So, there were zero pundits on this week’s Match Of The Day as well as commentary.
I gave my views that Gary Lineker shouldn’t have been asked to ‘step away’ based on a tweet he made on his own account on his day off.
So from a free speech perspective, yes the 62 year old should have been allowed to go to work.
Looking at things more lightly (it is sport after all), as a viewer, I’m not sure I actually missed the analysis BBC usually offers.
In fact of the various Football shows I digest every weekend, if there was one panel I would change it would be the one existing of Lineker and Shearer. I certainly didn’t miss the commentary the channel offers.
Years ago Sky used the controversial sexist comments from Richard Keys and Andy Gray as a convenient opportunity to make their presenters younger.
While they would never publicly admit it, it was like they were waiting for the opportunity to make changes without being accused of ageism.
Sky’s coverage has come into criticism, fans feeling Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have become too character based.
With their own podcasts and YouTube channels the accusation is they feel their own voices are more important than the action they should be dissecting.
With an apology unlikely, BBC bosses have decisions to make to safe guard programmes on TV and radio, some of which had to be cancelled to what became a boycott.
Some will quietly resume their jobs but it takes a brave man or women to take Lineker’s chair.
So for fun if you were running the BBC and had your pick of the industry, who would you employ?
You need to hire a host, 2/3 to be on your panel, a play by play commentator and a co-commentator.
Here are my choices…..
Host – Jeff Stelling
Because he’s not a former player he’s relatable to viewers.
He’s one of us, simply a fan with the dream job, being paid to talk about football.
However popular he’s become, he’s never let it go to his head and think that his opinion is more unique then others.
He finds that balance between encouraging debate, but never taking things too seriously where he causes an argument for the sake of YouTube clicks.
He’s like one of your mates talking about the Sport down the pub. A bit of banter, but at the end of the day it’s a trivial subject compared to what else is going on in the world .
Makes both those at home and his guests feel comfortable.
Roy Keane – Panel
The issue with Sky Sport’s team is their pundits have become too much of the show.
They will argue that their social media numbers show that people care.
Yet it’s overbearing and not organic.
Grame Souness was once a decent pundit because once his delivery was sharp and direct. Now it feels like someone has asked him to be that way.
Micah Richards was originally refreshing because his personality is engaging.
It doesn’t work when a producer is in his ear telling him to laugh out loud and act like a clown.
Roy Keane is in danger of being manufactured but I still feel give him a topic he cares about, something to get his teeth into, and you get his honest account.
In any team you need to have that balance.
Keane’s my no-nonsense pundit but not because he’s a character, but because that’s who he is .
Gary Neville – Panel
He’s like marmite but there is room for Gary Neville next to the right two personalities and if he’s managed correctly.
As a former player who won everything in the sport, played with some of the biggest names, one of the most successful manager in history, a businessman and co-owner of his own club, there are issues I want to hear the 48 years old’s opinion on.
Again, numbers don’t lie. There is a reason he has his own Podcast and YouTube channel.
The mistake his employers made was to bring in Jamie Carragher who simply can’t do what Neville does ,but thinks he can.
What you are left with is the two taking cheap shots at each other every week which overshadows the product they are meant to be talking about. The duo are not even an entertaining double act .
Put Neville on a strong panel, tell him when he can talk and he can be effective.
Andy Gray – Panel
Most of us grew up with the 67-year-old on Super Sunday.
Whether on the microphone or in the studio he gave some great sound bites over the years.
You could argue that he started to know it and his play by play became less organic, like he was trying too hard to find that next iconic line?
The biggest compliment I can give the ex-striker is he was a legend in his playing days, but out of the players turned pundits it’s not obvious to the observer who he used to play for.
That’s because he will talk with the same passion regarding Everton as he would Bolton.
There is the reason I’m putting him in the studio.
Clive Tyldesley or Peter Drury – commentator
I grew up with these two back when ITV had the rights to the Champions League, and for a couple of years Prem highlights.
It always astounded me that a BBC or Sky didn’t employ either over the years.
Both have given so many soundbites over the years
Some feel they overdo it. Almost like they have a reputation for their Shakespearian language and try and do it all the time.
In terms of making a game or goal feel big, they are unrivalled.
They are just as comfortable in a one man booth as they want to do the play by play, but also then give a soundbite while the goal is being replayed.
That’s why I’m putting Andy Gray in the studio as two strong personalities might get in each other way?
Tyldesley or Drury need to work with someone who can offer tactical insight, but let them do their thing.
Emma Hayes– Co commentator
Hayes has that perfect balance between knowing what she’s talking about, but knowing when to speak.
She’s happy to offer tactical insight without the need to get herself over.
One of the few co-commentators where I feel I learn something.
Unlike others, she doesn’t rely on her background in the sport. She is well researched and explains to viewers tactically what they are seeing.
Corporations were under pressure to have more diversity on TV.
She might have got the opportunity just to tick a PR box, but it’s not how you get the ball, it’s what you do with it when you get it .
She ran with it and now you don’t notice what gender she is, she’s there on merit. Exactly How it should be.
If she ever takes a break from management, a broadcaster will snap her up.
Put your team in the comments.
Be respectful, just a bit of fun