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The stuff pundits are made off

By Walter Broeckx

I think that apart from the more brainless football supporters not many take pundits seriously. But as the more brainless are also more active in sending emails the opinion of a pundit usually makes its way through their ranks and then we can also see some of them coming to Untold to post what any pundit has said he should think.  They also sometimes add the word FACT at the end of their statements.

Pundits explain this, pundits explain that… and these commentators even pretend to know the laws of the game and spout all kinds of nonsense about them. Nonsense that are taken as FACT by some.

The most funny pundit experience I have witnessed in the PL was Alan Shearer. I don’t know if he is still used as a pundit as I really cannot take the trouble to listen to them or even watch them. But we all remember how he sat in the MOTD studio telling us what went wrong here, there and everywhere. If you listened to him you surely thought : well this guy knows it all and is a far better manager than all the rest who really manage a team in the PL.

His moment de gloire as the French call it came when his beloved Newcastle called upon him to fill in a few seasons ago.  Joe Kinnear manager of Newcastle had a heart attack and on 1 April (what a day to announce it) it was confirmed that Alan Shearer would take over and would try to rescue Newcastle who were in position 18 at that moment with 29 points and 8 games to go.

At the end of that season Newcastle was still in the same relegation position with only 34 points. So from a possible 24 points our bright pundit light managed to get 5. 5 out of 24.

But after that he returned to MOTD and other punditry teams and started spouting his opinion again. He had failed as a manager. It didn’t matter to the broadcasters. One could think that they might have said: now wait a minute can we really put someone over there in that chair who tells us what managers did wrong who clearly was not good enough to do it on the field himself? No such thought in the football industry world.

So since then we have seen Shearer criticising Wenger for everything under the sun.   And other managers of course.  At least couldn’t they have had decency to use people who have proven that they know a thing or two about being a manager? People who have won something. People who have years of experience. People who have shown that they can keep a team in the PL against the odds. That kind of people. Not the Shearer one who clearly couldn’t do it and since then never was asked again. Or Alan Hansen who never managed not even an U9 side. Well not as far as I know anyway.

How on earth are they then picked to come to explain the mistakes from managers? Because of their first name? Or because of belonging to the little circle? A bit like the little referee circle world….

Anyway these thoughts slipped through my mind when I was watching Chelsea – Arsenal this weekend. As I had to do my own match as a referee at the same time I used the hard disk or whatever it is called where they store the matches these days to look at the match.

And to my big surprise there was a pundit in the studio that I knew rather well. The name is not that important in fact as you will never have heard of him and never ever will hear from him again. But it was the last player from the local team I support in Belgium that made it to the Belgian national team. He won the league as a player when playing for one of the smaller clubs in Belgium, so a great achievement.

He started his career at my local club from the youth teams and he was the best player in the last season my local club played at the highest level. Almost 26 years ago. And he was only 18-19 years old at the time. So he had a very decent football career and played 35 matches for Belgium.

So what is actually wrong then with the idea of giving him a podium to show his knowledge about football? So why can’t he be a pundit?

Well because that only last week he was give his marching orders in the last club he managed. And that club was…my local club. Yes he had gone back to where he started in his career and wanted to bring a new fresh start to my local club. Last season we managed to save ourselves in the last match of the season to avoid relegation. The trainer from that season didn’t continue any more and he went back to his old club to make sure it would be back amongst the better teams in the league.

This season after just 10 matches we are one position off the relegation places again. And we are lucky that for the moment there are 3 other clubs who are so weak that you cannot even imagine how weak they are. We only managed to take points in the matches against those teams more or less.  So even for an old club icon these bad results were not enough to save him and he got sacked. They called it leaving by mutual agreement. That sounds better to the outside world.

But here he is now. Telling us what Wenger and Mourinho should be doing, should have done and should do in the future. He even couldn’t lift a team in the third tier of football in Belgium to at least play a bit of good football.  But here he is, telling it and explaining things to us fools who sit in front of the TV.

So it isn’t just England where they have useless pundits. It’s just a global spreading disease it seems.

If only they could save us from those pundits. Why not bring back a band at half time. A marching band and show that on TV and leave us alone with opinions of people whose opinion is not interesting at all and who speak based on who they supported or still support. I think that would make football coverage much more bearable for most of us.

Or you could do like me and turn off the sound completely….

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37 comments to The stuff pundits are made off

  • Pete

    I have managed an U9 side!

    I must admit that – not consciously – I rarely now listen to the pundits when watching TV. Sometimes because of domestic chores but mainly because they are not adding to my appreciation of the match. At all. The TV goes on a few minutes before kick off, then I break away at half time and, usually, turn off again soon after the final whistle – perhaps lingering for a few minutes if Arsenal have won (if they have lost, the TV goes off within 5 seconds of the final whistle…).

    The exception to this is Match of the Day when the analysis is mercifully brief. But agree that Shearer really is awful. I have complained about him to a personal contact who I thought was in a position of authority at the BBC/MoTD – but apparently the pundits are chosen by an even higher clique.

  • apo Armani

    So Walter you have blown my mind with this spectacular article!!!!!

    By the way I have also managed an U9 side…where do I sue up for a pundits position??!!!

    Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen (of course many others like them) are examples of How NOT to DO IT (Punditry).

    I am afraid though most pundits even those in politics who get air time on TV are the ONLY people in on the planet one should NEVER listen and/or follow!!!

    Like blind leading the stupid and blind!

  • apo Armani

    @Pete
    October 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    My routine on match-day (TV) is the same as yours mate!

  • WalterBroeckx

    So is mine 🙂 I put on the Tv with sound low and when the teams are listed I take a look still with no sound. I only put the sound higher when we are in the lead to hear our supporters sing. But as soon as the reporter talks bullsh*t it goes down again.
    At half time I try to write already something for Untold based on what I have seen, have a drink in the kitchen and when the second half starts the sound is usually still low.
    At the end the tv goes off immediately from the sports channel. And the writing of the match report starts. My match report. My own personal feelings on how I experienced the match and the things I remembered most.

    That is of course when I can see the match as it happens. For some strange reason this season this only happened a few times as I usually get my own match when Arsenal plays….
    Otherwise it is even more simple and I can fast forward the half time rubbish at 64x the normal speed. 🙂

  • apo Armani

    Just told my wife about this (sorry guys I had to)…she said “so theres others like you!!” 🙂 🙂

  • menace

    ox passes to Welbeck for Englands 3rd goal

  • AB

    Your so right Walter there should be no commentary just the game , we don’t need all that pointless waffle. I go to all home games in club level very civilized everyone sits down and behaves .

  • AB

    Well done England well done Arsenal boys fantastic performance from you all credit to the club and true fans .

  • para

    Yes, it’s the little circle, the pundits are nodes on the web of deceit that spans across the world.
    They are clones in behaviour and presentation, they dare not make a slip.
    For when one falls, another is easily found.
    Being live on air is of course open to the real truth
    but hardly anyone dares to speak it, especially if they are in “the circle”, and the others who aren’t, well, they are made to silently (or sometimes spectacularly) fade away.

  • para

    The commentary of today makes that of the old days into something special.

  • Yassin

    Or you could do like me and go to your room and open untold-arsenal.

  • nicky

    Walter, the trouble with the media throughout the globe, is that the unusual, controversial or clearly irritating, increases ratings for TV or sales for newspapers. No room for the good guys.
    Hence folk like Shearer and Hansen. Bruce Forsyth, who now cannot say Good Evening without the aid of an idiot board. And the simpering Richard Arnold on morning ITV.
    We humans will watch and listen as a means of self-inflicted M & S.

  • bjtgooner

    @nicky

    Gibbs used his right foot tonight!! 🙂

  • Paul the gooner

    Every time I watch us on tv the sound is very low. I will never have the sound on normal unless we are winning.Then I enjoy listening to them squirm, like Tony Stupid Gale.Interesting why 2 Liverpool players were substituted,it had nothing to do with Storrington being injured before!

  • Paul the gooner

    It should have been Sturridge

  • bjtgooner

    One thing many pundits have in common is that they struggle to properly pronounce the names of our players – Ozil, Cazorla, Rosicky, Koscielny & Szczesny all come to mind. I find this very poor – we pay the various TV companies for better than this.

    Then we have very poor analysis from so called experts – Carragher is especially pathetic and Lennon hard to make out (some Irish accents are excellent – but he does not articulate), Neville does articulate, but has moved his position from his initial stance – at one time he seemed to be fair to Arsenal – not recently.

    Then we have the bias – everything we do on the pitch is criticized, the thug tackles we receive are minimized/ignored and the incompetent refs are protected.

    I agree it is better for the blood pressure to keep the sound down/off – although sometimes it is useful to know what an enemy is thinking.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Pete ……are you at liberty to tell us more of this clique?

  • Nonny

    Its very funny that most of us across the globe experience the same thing. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I listened to pundits.

    However, I thing the studios just throw any ex footballer at us and a few that got me so p**sed I vowed never to waste my time on them anymore show that although they were go footballers during their playing days, as pundits, they totally suck. So much so that with ur limited knowledge of the game, u can conclude with authority that they are talking trash. Its a pity!

  • Micheal Ram

    Walter,

    You are absolutely right. Case in point, my experience at least. Because of injuries, I have lost my opportunity to play professionally at the age of 22. However, I still played odd games here and there for fun, charity and with younger prodigies. Ironically, I was working as an animal trainer in a local zoo as a living. So, then I try to manage and coach any teams I played for. Just when I thought humans are not animals, they prove me wrong. Just when you thought you were holding garbage, you somehow found a pearl inside. Young, old, superstars, mediocres, angels, a**holes, propaganda a and the impossibles. I’m telling you, the experience changed my life. My perspective was bigger and deeper than before and it still is. There are millions of ways to score goals, be a team and win matches. Now, I look at football as an art form and a poet. It’s technical rather than brutal. It’s graceful rather than powerful. It’s fun rather than profession. The eleven players are a pattern rather than individuals. It’s a beautiful forest rather than a concrete mansion. It’s freedom of expression with moral and responsibility. It’s Wengerball.

  • nicky

    @bjtgooner,
    Yep! Only once but I saw it as well!
    I reckon he reads Untold, 😉

  • para

    @bjtgooner
    “Neville does articulate, but has moved his position from his initial stance – at one time he seemed to be fair to Arsenal – not recently.”
    Yea man, he has been obviously told to “get with the program” or move aside.

    @Mandy Dodd
    The “clique” or “circle”, it has many names, but it is quite(absolutely) clear to see if one is aware that something is wrong. It becomes hidden when one stops questioning.

    It would also be wrong to talk about them here in depth, Untold is doing a great job and I for one would not want that to end, even though I think Untold is already noticed, hence the cyber attacks and such.

    I think Untold will be attacked more in future, and the attacks on Arsenal will become more devious and hidden.

    //
    I hear rumours of the CL rules changing from next year, will probably be an article soon?

  • Highveld Gooner

    I absolutely love our tv broadcasts in South Africa, which show as live all Arsenal games, but mostly because they have the option of turning the commentary off, but keeping the noise made by the crowd. Absolutely despise the sky pundits most of the time, blatant anti-arsenal bias, and the local pundits are even worse (the main pundit supports the scum)

  • WalterBroeckx

    Well Highveld Gooner I think most of us would pay some extra money to have that option you seem to have!!!

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Walter , another fine article with some fine comments and links from the faithful . We used to have the now well known Shebby Singh but others have taken his place . Just glad I don’t have to listen to the level of crap that most of you are exposed to.
    I too mute the commentary as I can see for myself the goings on on the pitch , but would love to have that gadget / option that Highveld Gooner has .

    Here is an article about human nature that you can view at your leisure , which I just received today .
    Human Nature by Eric R. Pianka.

    http://www.zo.utexas.edu/courses/THOC/HumanNature.html

  • Pat

    I don’t know if anybody else noticed, but yesterday in the England match the commentators seemed to notice every shirt pull, every foul by San Marino – all the things they seem to be blind to when they’re happening to Arsenal.

  • Pete

    In the early days of Sky I think there was an option to watch the game with just the crowd noise. They also had the option of watching the game with commentary from a fan of your team (so two separate streams obviously). I think the most famous example of this was the Chelsea fan commentating on our Cup Final with them who said something along the lines of “Don’t worry – it’s only Ray Parlour……” as the ball sailed into the top corner!

    As for the BBC Clique. Can’t add much more I’m afraid. My friend is one of the most senior production people (you will appreciate I can’t identify him by name – but he does not support one of the current big boys) who has been part of the show for many years. I suspect that he may have been diplomatically avoiding discussion on this point. But his job is to produce a slick programme. I think it is credible that the pundits may be selected by the “Talent” side of the BBC? Again, he was too diplomatic but didn’t disagree when I challenged him that some of the longer-serving pundits had become a bit “tired” (this was around the time that it was announced that Hansen was being pensioned off).

    Unfortunately, I don’t see him too often these days as (i) he had to move to Manchester and (ii) he is always, obviously, working at weekends!

  • apo Armani

    @Pat
    October 10, 2014 at 9:54 am

    It sure was noticed…very confusing though since 5 of those guys wore red against another blue team on the weekend. Perhaps white tops make it easier for color blind pundits to spot the tugs/pulls/fowls 🙂

  • finsbury

    The following satire/spoof of your Standard football plundit was made in 1994. Twenty years ago.

    http://youtu.be/Xhlx43rTs2Q

    It could’ve been made yesterday! 🙂

  • finsbury

    There have been a few broadcasts of friendly international games on the FUFA website of games with no commentary, just the ambient noise from the game and the crowd. It’s good. It’s what people want to see!

    As Brian clough said many many years ago people aren’t interested in listening to the plunditiocrcy, they just want to watch the football.

  • Mahdain

    Great article Walter. I too dont bother listening to pundits as they are just not worth it. When we still got Bein Sports in our country i didnt watch any of the pre match, half time or full time “analysis”. I got in the room when the match started, get out during half time, get back when match is restarting and get out when itd full time. Nowadays due to some rights reason we no longer get Bein(Thanks Supersport….NOT) and my cable provider replaced them with Canal sports. I no longer need to turn down the volume or leave the room as i dont know a single French phrase ☺

  • Quincy

    The problem of ALL media today is that it appeals to the lowest factor in human beings, it is dumbed down to appeal to the dumbest. No newspaper or broadcaster has standards these. The rot started with people like Rupert Murdoch, just think of what he did to the newspapers in the UK. Then to compete, even the likes of the BBC had to lower their standards drastically. The media used to have standards. They used to assume that working class people valued honest discussion. But then the Murdochs of the world took over and decided we don’t need to get any sort of honest and valuable work from the media. Murdoch and his kind are intentionally trying to lower our standards. I think we can update Marx and say the popular media is the opiate of the masses.

  • jayramfootball

    Listening to ‘pundits’ like Andy Townsend so openly pulling for any team playing against Arsenal whilst he is commentating, ignoring all the fouls on our players and obvious refereeing mistakes, makes me feel sick. So much so that I do indeed have to turn the sound down now when watching football. I used to listen to radio broadcasts when watching but that has become as bad. Basically I watch football on TV in silence now. I may record some crowd noise haha. Anything is better than listening to the fools who call themselves experts on TV.

  • Micheal Ram

    I think it’s all about power. Like little boys with toys, they abuse it without a sense of responsibility. And like little boys, the media are not ashamed of it. Wonder what a few good men will do.

  • Gord

    I have had the “pleasure” of watching ex-professional athletes in the weight room, instructing clients how to do things. More often than not, the advice they provide is a recipe to becoming injured. They came into sports with a natural inclination with respect to the sport in question, and being very strong (compared to others). You cannot expect people relatively new to fitness (or to some new pursuit), to have a high level of strength, flexibility and endurance to this new activity.

    Just because a personal was trainable to become an elite athlete, doesn’t give them any predisposition to make elite athletes out of others. Especially in pursuits different from the sport they were professional in.