Arsenal Pundits 1 - United Pundits 0
There was a moment during the England vs Wales, Sky Sports Broadcast the other week, just a fleeting moment, that Ryan Giggs showed weakness. As he finished his monologue about how great it is to play for your country (just as long it doesn`t get in the way of making an extra £10,000 courtesy of Rupert Murdoch) he wrongly thought the camera had switched to the game. There was an all too brief glimpse into his soul. His eyes told the story of a sad man; a man who had, in an instant, come to realise that a door had been shut on him. He could never be a pundit.
Giggs` on screen performance was a masterclass in tedium. The Manchester City of TV punditry. "Wales tried hard, but respect to England" etc. boring etc.
NO NO NO Ryan. Wales didn`t try hard. They just moaned a lot and looked sorry for themselves. And there`s no respect deserved by England. Apart from Jack Wilshere, who charged about like an ADHD kid after a barrel of blue smarties, the rest of the 3 lions decided 2-0 was enough, and to get any more goals would involve effort, and you should know by now that isn`t the point of playing for your country thank you very much.
That`s not the reason why Giggs looked so forlorn and so accepting of the end of his TV career before it began. Anybody watching Alan Shearer read through his Match Magazine Book of Football Cliches on MOTD will know a lack of talent is no stumbling block to a career in the football media.
It`s because Ryan Giggs is a perfectionist. Anybody who has played at the level that he has for the length of time he has must be. They must have an obsessive level of pride in performance, and that above all else will stop Ryan Giggs becoming a TV pundit.
Gary Neville on the other hand has no such pride and is quite happy to take the money. Whilst watching a clip of Wayne Rooney attempting to kick the shins of every Welsh player, like a 7 year old flirting, Gary delved deep into his encyclopaedic bag of football knowledge to shower us with gifts such as. "You don`t want to take that out of Wayne`s game."
Actually Gary, yes you do. Kicking people and then snarling over them does not a tackle make, and perhaps if somebody had told you that earlier in your career you could have saved us all 12 years of shouting angrily at our TV sets whenever you and your prepubescent beardy face appeared.
Over on the BBC Lee Dixon writes a weekly tactics column and offers the kind of impartial insight that only years of studying the game can bring. Martin Keown is TVs most underrated pundit and calls it exactly as he sees it, often saying of ex teammates that they 'must do better.`
During the World Cup Patrick Viera showed, through his second language, a character trait all too often seemingly missing in footballers, intelligence.
Andrew Cole has had his thoughts put down on paper by The Independent . Such thoughts have included telling the world why he never spoke to Teddy Sheringham:
"I walk on to the pitch, 60,000 or so watching. I expect a brief handshake, a 'Good luck, Coley', something. He walks off. I was confused. And there you have it. From that moment on, I knew Sheringham was not for me."
16 years of refusing to talk to somebody because they ran past him. No wonder Titus Bramble never speaks in games.
Is it any wonder that three of Wenger`s ex players have made such good pundits? At Arsenal players are given the chance to think for themselves and are treated like adults. From Henry`s jokes, to Tony Adam`s trying to sound like an Oxford graduate and now Wilshere on twitter; Wenger allows his players to express themselves, not just on the pitch, but off it too.
Ryan Giggs once had to hide in a cupboard at one of Lee Sharpe`s parties to avoid Alex Ferguson. The same Ryan Giggs that barely drinks, does yoga to prolong his career, and is still playing at 37. He`s hardly Kieron Dyer.
The Independent once ran an article entitled '10 players that fell out with Fergie.` Some of the reasons players were sold include horrific crimes to football such as saying Ronaldo was soft, disagreeing with Ferguson and being Gordon Strachan.
Players are treated like children at Old Trafford, never more in evidence than after the defeat to Liverpool when they were instructed not to speak to the media under any circumstances. It`s no wonder they struggle so much when presented with an adult job, with an adult job description, such as 'form coherent sentences about the game you play without being boring.`
Having said all that, Emmanuel Adabayor is a rubbish pundit.