Pundits in the spotlight – The Arsenal-hating Neville Brothers

PUNDITS AND PUNDITRY – AN ART FORM OR EX MANAGERS/PLAYERS WHO ARE PAID A FORTUNE TO GIVE PERSONAL OPINIONS?

The dictionary’s definition of a pundit:

1. A self-appointed expert.
2. formerly a learned person.

Now Arsenal have been a focus of these self-appointed experts on many occasions and with varying degrees of opinions.

They tend to be ex-professional players, some very successful and others not quite so, ex-managers, ex-player/managers and even ex-commentators who now see themselves as pundits.

Let’s have a look at the second and third of these experts/pundits who have done both sides of the coin and discuss their personal merits and in no particular order:

In this article, I want to look at the Neville brothers, their time as players, managers/coaches and pundits, especially in relation to The Arsenal:

Gary Neville – Defender – Club – Man. Utd for total career of twenty years 1991 / 2011– Won a total of 20trophies.

England Full International 1995/2007 with 85 caps – holds the record for the most capped right back. Known as an “old fashioned” defender, his playing career was one of tremendous success at the highest level.

There is no question that he had the knowledge to be described as a pundit regarding football in the art of defending.

He writes a weekly column for The Sunday Times of Malta, where the oldest recognised MU Supporters club is based. He then joined the Daily Telegraph in 2014, as a sports columnist.

My personal problem with his punditry, is when we look at his managerial record and how he advises premier league managers/coaches what they should be doing.

On the 14th May 2012, he joined the England camp, on a four-year contract as part of the coaching team and was involved in both the 2012 and 2016 euros and the 2014 World Cup, where England were eliminated in the group stages.

They finished bottom of their group, drawing just one game, consisting of Costa Rica, Uruguay and Italy.
He joined Valencia in December 2015 and was sacked after only four months in the job. His record at the Spanish club in La Liga was: Played 16 – Won 3 – not one clean sheet recorded.

He also oversaw the elimination from the Europa league, being sent off in the process for protesting about a goal awarded. When he left the club, they were only six points away from the relegation zone (shades of UE!!!!)

Now, if that kind of managerial record gives him the title of a pundit, then Unai Emery should be his boss. But there we sit, listening to him telling us all what premier league managers are doing wrong.
With his obvious history of conflict regarding our club, he seems intent on belittling everything we do and never seems to question dubious refereeing decisions.

Phil Neville – Defender / Midfield – Clubs Man Utd (10 years) Everton (8 years) – winning 11 trophies. A full England International from 1996-2007, winning 59 caps. Not as impressive as his older brother, but a success, nonetheless.

Again though, when we look at his managerial career, the same questions arise. His only senior managerial record is listed as Manager of the England Women’s team from 17th January 2018 to July 2021. He oversaw 35 games, of which 19 were wins, 5 drawn and 11 lost.

He was also assistant manager to his brother at Valencia and followed his brother out of the club, following the miserable results detailed above.

So, I ask, once again, what makes Phil Neville an expert in the management side of punditry? What evidence is there that he should be able to sit in his chair, telling anyone who wants to listen what managers/coaches are doing wrong?

I also listen on in amazement, when either of the Nevilles condemn players who are caught out on TV using bad tackles that might end a players career.

I am sure every Gooner will remember these two brothers doing a hatchet job on Jose Antonio Reyes, supported in no small way by the referee, as they ended our Invincible run?

There is no doubt in my mind, that they were sent out to injure Jose as a minimum result of their assault on our player. When questioned about it, Gary maintains that it was all part of the rough and tumble that happened when the two clubs met, while Phil was reported as saying: “They [Arsenal] had a young Spanish winger called Juan(sic) Antonio Reyes, and we literally kicked him off the park. Every time he got the ball, Gary smashed him. Next time he got the ball, I smashed him. I remember looking at him and thinking, ‘What am I doing in English football?'”

We should also remember that Phil was warned over his remarks on a MOTD show, when he said that he would take a player out of the game if he had seen them perform a pass without looking – these comment were made after he had watched Tomas Rosicky pull off this feat, in a 3-2 FA cup win against BHA.

The full quote? “If that was a training session and somebody did that, I’d probably look to two-foot him or take him out of the game. If somebody did that in training to me, winding me up, I would be straight in there, I’d smash them.”…it seems to me that is exactly what you and your brother tried to do to Jose and it’s no coincidence he went back to Spain, following this planned attack on a fellow professional.
RIP Jose.

Now are these the kind of “pundits” that should be telling everyone how to play the game, how to manage a successful premier league club, or comment on how a player needs to be judged within the rules of the game?

As it is all about personal opinions, I will just give you my view – never in a month of Sundays…

ken1945

21 Comments

  1. Declan says:

    Morning ken, good article but I think the title is somewhat strong, but I don’t expect you actually wrote it.
    I don’t think ex players should be criticised for being pundits but yes criticism of what they say is absolutely ok. They do do not set themselves up as pundits but are asked by Sky, BT and the BBC etc to comment on games, would you turn down £20,000 per program if asked? Don’t blame them for being on TV slagging us off, blame the TV companies who employ them knowing them to be biased and controversial. It’s the equivalent of click bait which happens in all forms of media as we know on here🤔. Just my humble opinion.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Good points Declan, especially the salaries side of the argument.

      Having watched many old MOTD’s etc during this lock down, the way summaries were conducted then, seem to be much more unbiased.

      I guess I could have become a cynical old git, responding with my Arsenal glasses on, but that hatchet job on Reyes still angers me to this day.

    2. Highbury Hero says:

      Still pundits being fans clearly and shamelessly favoring their favorite teams defeat the purpose of punditry doesn’t it?

      That’s why i don’t like Carragher and I am very happy he never lifted the EPL trophy even though I wish Gerald should’ve.

      I have seen this only in English football and English medias.

  2. Lord Denning says:

    If you’re are a football legend definitely you know football and deserve to be a pundit.Again you can give your views in light of your footballing experience, experience is the best teacher you don’t need to be a professional pundit with some funny courses in sports management.Having said that even a bet placer can’t give you a sure bet in most of the games so take what pundits say as abita dicta.

  3. Sue says:

    Great article, Ken 👍
    Poor Reyes, that was awful, like something straight out of Stoke…. those were the days when anything went at Old Trafford, for the home side, of course!
    Out of the 2, I prefer listening to Gary. Phil bores me to tears.. and always ends up on those football funnies programmes, for his inability to count 😂
    I think if I had to choose a Neville to be my coach/manager….it’d be their sister, Tracey 😉😂😂

    1. Highbury Hero says:

      That last line is murder!

  4. Akinlatun Wale says:

    A good pundit should be objective in his assessment and comments. These ones are clearly not one

  5. Grandad. says:

    One thing the Brothers Neville will never be accused of is being handsome.For footballers of limited ability, they did remarkably well, but they would find it a lot more difficult to make it in the game today.To be fair to Gary, he has readily admitted fai!ing at Valencia and I have never found him to be too unfair when discussing the current Arsenal team.Like most fans , he highlights the areas where we are weak, but like the vast majority of Pundits on TV really constructive suggestions are few and far between.To stir up a hornets nest I personally find Danny Murphy one of the more intelligent pundits .Who is your personal favourite Ken?.

  6. Grandad. says:

    Good article Ken.For two players of limited ability, they both did well to gain as many international caps although I wonder if they would have been awarded any had they played for a less fashionable Club side.In any event, to be fair to Gary, he has openly admitted fai!ing at Valencia and I have never found him to be over critical of the current Arsenal team.Like most Arsenal fans, he highlights the areas where we are weak, and I think he shares our frustrations at the lack of progress being made to bring about an improvement. I may stir up a hornets nest, but one Pundit I find interesting, and at times astute, is Danny Murphy.Do you have a personal favourite Ken.Great article by the way.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Thanks Grandad, as you point out, Gary has admitted his limitations regarding his time in management and thay makes it all the mmore galling (for me) when he tells everyone what a manager iss doing wrong!

      I agree with youregarding Danny Murphy, he does seem to rely as much on his experience as using ummpteen cameras and moving players across a board, indicating where they should have been. But again, I don’t think he has managerial experience.

      I really like our own Martin Keown….yes I knowhe has zero managerial experience, but he is very honest and doesn’t favour anyone, especially The Arsenal.
      His criticism of one of our own players (Ozil) has been very personal at times, but I find myself aggreeing with most of what he says.

      As, Akinlatun rightly says, pundits should be unbiased and most clearly are not, in my opinion.

  7. Grandad says:

    Technical problems at my end caused the duplication.My apologies.

  8. Dan kit says:

    I don’t mind Gary TBF ,he always had a soft spot for Arsenal Wenger when he was going through the rough patch here when the fans were turning on him .
    Regarding his punditry skills he is one of few that I wouldn’t turn the channel over to get away from listening to .
    If I had to sit and listen to Alan shearer or Micheal Owen then I would throw myself through my tv .
    Shame we don’t get to listen to Andy Gray and Richard Keys ,now they were great to watch .

    1. ken1945 says:

      Dan, they are actually together again on another sports channel and for the life of me, I can’t remember what that channel is.

      They were very good at the time they were on sky, but they do seem a little bit out of date and weary in the way the present today – just like me, they have put some weight on as well!!

      1. Dan kit says:

        I’ve seen them also when I’ve been streaming ,think it’s some American network ,yes it wouldn’t be the same these days ,things move on unfortunately .

      2. Dan says:

        Bein Sports
        I watch clips of their coverage on Youtube
        Although that might be the station Saudi Arabia just banned

    2. odey says:

      Absolutely Dan. Michael O., Gary N, Andy Townsend, and Phil are very poor in their analysis. seeing their biasness and hatred for Arsenal is really absurd. They fail to understand/realize that they all are faces of the British media.
      they should go learn from Don Hutch.

  9. Andrew Elder says:

    Great article Ken. The main culprit that day was Sir Alec, the Neville (Mitchell*) brothers were merely the willing hitmen. Lovely guy was Jose Reyes still can’t believe he’s gone.

    * I nicked this from Perry Groves.

    1. ken1945 says:

      Spot on Andrew, the Neville, Mitchell, Hatchet brothers…or could it be the Chuckle Brothers regarding their management records punditry?

      1. Andrew Elder says:

        👍Good one Ken!!

  10. odey says:

    thumbs up to u ken… I always love reading ur articles

    1. ken1945 says:

      ThanksSue, Andrew and odey, really appreciate your comments.

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