Every two years we are treated to an International football tournament, alternating between a European Championship and a World Cup. Those of us who don’t have the luxury of Sky Sports don’t feel left out as ITV and BBC always have coverage of the games meaning we never miss a single kick. In seeing football live so regularly (twice a day for the group stages), a debate always arises regarding the quality of the pundits on each station and who is actually best, or worst as is more often the case. In a WWE Survivor Series-style bout, Marc Eadie, has set up a four v four of ITV and BBC’s finest and see who comes out on top.
Lee Dixon (BBC) v Gareth Southate (ITV)
Both former England players boasting over 1000 Premier League appearances between them, these guys come with experience. Arguably Southgate should have the edge here as he has managerial experience but does it come across when he is on that sofa? No. I don’t dislike Southgate but his input is of minimal interest and he never tells me anything I hadn’t already noticed in the game. He is just a guy who recalls what happens in a match. Thanks Gareth. Dixon, on the other hand, for me, is a good pundit. I like how he analyses the movement of teams and being a former defender he is good at highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of a side in defence. Neither are particularly personable guys, but I think Dixon just offers more in terms of his views and I often find myself agreeing with him as opposed to just blankly looking at Southgate and thinking ‘ok’.
WINNER: LEE DIXON (BBC)
Alan Shearer (BBC) v Jamie Carragher (ITV)
Again, two premier league veterans, although one far more experienced in sitting in a studio than the other. Shearer has been with the BBC for several years now and is a familiar face to all us Match Of The Day viewers whereas Carragher – who is still only 34 and still playing for club side Liverpool – is fairly new to our screens in a non-playing environment. So, again, Shearer should edge it on experience, right? Wrong. Shearer’s input is as dull as an Andy Murray phone call to Jack Dee. He is a likeable man, and is an absolute legend for what he achieved on the pitch, but when it comes to giving his analysis on games he is just plain poor. A fellow Talkingbaws writer mentioned that Shearer told us Robert Lewandowski was one ‘to watch out for’ like he was some sort of new, unknown entity – he was the leading scorer of a Bundesliga-winning Dortmund this season. At this level you expect your pundits to not necessarily know everything, but know a lot about what they are paid to discuss. Which takes us on to Carragher. While it may be difficult to process what he has just said with his heavy scouse accent his words do eventually at least make sense. He is opinionated and not afraid to stand by what he thinks rather than just fluff over it to avoid any fights with fellow pundits. I think he’ll do well if he continues on this path and for me, trounces Shearer on punditry ability.
WINNER: JAMIE CARRAGHER (ITV)
Alan Hansen (BBC) v Roy Keane (ITV)
This could easily be billed as battle of the c***s with everyone’s favourite English Scot Hansen pitted against Roy ‘I always look angry’ Keane. Hansen is the very definition of veteran. He has over 20 years of experience in giving his views on football matches. Known for his criticism of a team’s defending he has built up a solid reputation and would generally be referred to as one of the top pundits by many – although I wouldn’t quite agree personally. Keane, a former Republic of Ireland international, was known on the pitch for being quite rough and ready, never afraid to put the boot in as it were. Unfortunately, this obviously runs in his personality as he comes across the same on TV. When he is critical of a team, as he was of his own nation at this year’s Euros, he doesn’t hold back. His presenting style is therefore quite intimidating and, regardless of whether I agree with his opinions, I don’t value them as I lose respect for him in the way that he presents them. Hansen may not be the greatest in my eyes, but he is not the worst and compared to Roy Keane I’d have him on my telly any day.
WINNER: ALAN HANSEN (BBC)
Gary Lineker (BBC) v Adrian Chiles (ITV)
The team captains go head-to-head in a clash of the lead presenter titans. In one corner we have Gary Lineker, a footballing legend, and in the other we have Chiles, a guy who likes football but was also a journalist…
Okay, that’s a bit unfair to compare them like that. I’m supposed to be gauging them on their ability and quality as a football pundit. Chiles is obviously a massive football fan and has been involved with both BBC and ITV football coverage over the years. His down-to-earth, slightly grumpy, but goofy, presenting style seems to be appealing to his bosses and he is currently installed in the presenter’s chair for every Euro 2012 game on ITV. His job is to get the best out of Roy Keane and Gareth Southgate (good luck) and try to decipher the code that Jamie Carragher speaks. So in fairness, before we even consider his football knowledge, we must consider he is at a handicap from the outset. It doesn’t take away the spotlight from him too much though as we soon realise he is just irritating full stop. No matter what he is talking about. He rambles on usually complaining about something and doesn’t actually propose any insightful questions to his guests.
What about Lineker then? Well, I’m not a fan either to be honest. Similar to Chiles he has a slightly humorous way of presenting, and throws the odd gag in now and again, but it’s not that which puts me off him. It’s his blandness. Maybe as the anchor he is not supposed to toss his opinions about but there is always just a slight feeling of gloom from him as he half-heartedly asks his football friends about what they think. I see Jeff Stelling present Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports News and just think, ‘that’s what a presenter of a football show should be like’. Sadly, neither Chiles or Lineker are like him in the slightest. So, while I really think these two should tie in this battle, if it came down to it Lineker would win on penalties.
WINNER: LINEKER (BBC)
A comprehensive victory in the end for a BBC side who despite taking an early lead, gave away a sloppy goal before a resurgent second half performance saw them go on to beat a poor ITV side. It was no surprise to see ITV fail to use their substitute Patrick Vieira as his lack of knowledge of players names would have seen his side concede instantly.
Who do you think wins @Eadie84‘s Pundit Wars? The Lineker led BBC? Or Chiles’ ITV boys? Tweet Marc or comment below.