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 we 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 first of these experts/pundits who have done both sides of the coin and discuss their personal merits and in no particular order:
Alan Shearer CBE: A brief overview of his career:
He is the premier league’s record goal scorer and recognised as one of the best strikers in the history of the premier league.
Played for Southampton, Blackburn Rovers and Newcastle United and received 63 full international caps for England from 1992 – 2000.
He never played in any other position except that of a striker.
Managed Newcastle United for eight games in the 2008/2009 season, in an attempt to save the club from relegation – of the eight games he was the official manager, just five points were obtained from a possible 24 – Newcastle were relegated from the top tier for the first time in 16 years.
On the disciplinary front, he received two red cards and fifty-nine yellow cards.
So, we watch this excellent player nearly every week, commenting on everything from tackles, tactics, individual players, managers/coaches, in fact, everything to do with football.
What expertise does he have in the art of defending or midfield play?
What expertise does he have in the game today and the players involved?
He tweeted in August 2018 when someone criticised his style of play the following: “Not sure if you noticed but I retired 12 years ago. The game has changed. Try and keep up.”
Never was a truer word said Alan, but here you are, giving it out to today’s players – no matter what position they play in – with the help of umpteen camera angles and slow motion – crucifying players who, in your opinion, make bad challenges and telling them how they should play the game, learn how to defend, play the midfield role and avoid the offside trap.
Interesting to note that on that final point, Keith Hackett, the then head of the Premier League referees, offered to educate Shearer in 2008, on the rules of the offside laws, after he criticised Mark Halsey for not ruling out a goal in one particular match. The decision was correct, of course.
Perhaps this is the reason that Alan finds it nigh on impossible to offer any criticism of today’s referees, especially when the mistake is glaringly obvious?
Once bitten, twice shy?
Now let’s look at his “managerial career” – short but very telling – led Newcastle to relegation in 2008/09, with five points from twenty-four – simple as that.
Yet, once again, over a decade later, he tells the world and his dog, what mistakes the current premier league managers are making, how they should be lining up at free kicks, etc, etc, etc.
Alan, if only you had done that in those eight games, back in 2008/09, when it was your responsibility to do so, your observations and critiques might hold a little more water.
It was also reported in The Guardian (25/5/2009) that Alan was to have talks with Mike Ashley over a four year deal and a £30 million kitty for transfers, to try and get Newcastle back into the top flight, while also demanding complete control of the club – no sign of lacking in confidence or not wanting the job then Alan?
If Alan was employed as a pundit with regards to forward play, comparing his time as a truly gifted and successful forward, and discussing that position versus todays vastly different role as a striker, his views would be relevant and interesting, especially if sitting next to, say, Aubameyang.
But to say the has the credentials to pass judgement on goalkeepers, defenders, midfield players and/or managers, in today’s game, while awarding him the title of “pundit” in these areas is plain silly.
A great striker, one of the very best in my opinion, wished he had played for our club, a Newcastle legend… but a legitimate pundit of today’s premier league?
If the response and interest warrant it, next on the list will be that wonderful duo, the Neville brothers.