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Arsenal Pundits 1 - United Pundits 0

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.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:Lewis Wright
Date:Friday April 8 2011
Time: 10:55AM


Good article and a nice way to set out the different ways that Arsene and Fergie treat their players. Arguably Fergie's sergeant major style is more effective than Arsene's more scholarly approach. Certainly in the winning of trophies it has been yet over their careers at their current clubs only one has gone unbeaten and their win percentages are very similar indeed. The difference is that other than Fergie's early 90's group Arsene has relied rather more on nurturing players - partly out of necessity and partly ideology. Allowing people to think for themselves has its drawbacks but the rewards can be very satisfying too.
08/04/2011 11:56:00
Failing off the pitch is one thing, But Fergie's boys 99 times out of a100 out perform us on it, isn't that were it really counts?
08/04/2011 13:03:00
Not 99 times out of 100. They've met 41 times so far with Fergie winning 18 and Arsene 13 so that would be more like 44 times out of 100. It is indeed what really counts but the article still uses context cleverly to make an interesting observation.
08/04/2011 14:37:00
Interesting take and agree that Dixon and Keown are good. Despite his attitude toward female referees, I actually thought Andy Gray was a good pundit. But there are loads of mediocre ones - Garth Crooks, Mark Bright, Andy Townsend, Mark Lawrenson, Alan Hansen and Alan Shearer are the worst IMO.
08/04/2011 16:37:00
Bit over the top rating Mark Bright as much as mediocre
08/04/2011 22:10:00
What is the point of this article.. are we supposed to be proud that dixon and keown are better commentator than giggs.. is that what we hv been reduced to.. we can ridicule united all day long but fact is, when they get on the football field, they know how to find the right result and we are hopeless.
09/04/2011 12:23:00
The point of the article is for the entertainment it provides and for an interesting comparison of people skills and the environment in which they might develop best. Of course if all you want to read is "X is **** and Y is brilliant" then you'll see little point to the article although ironically you can apply the point it does make to those who only want to read that "X is **** and Y is brilliant"
09/04/2011 13:21:00
Thanks for the comments. I have to say I think Mark Bright is a good pundit, but I'm aware he may be masking a lack of ability with sheer enthusiasm. I'm sorry you didn't like the article to the point of saying it's a waste of energy, but I do think if that's your attitude you'd probably think that about 90% of writing, which is to generate debate and discussion; surely one of the best parts of football? I'm not proud of Dixon and Keown being better pundits, just wanted to point out something I happen to think is an interesting trend, and ask the question - what situation generates a good pundit?
09/04/2011 21:41:00
It's a shame Graeme Le Saux had his hissy fit with the BBC because he was a good pundit. Interestingly he played under Glenn Hoddle, Ruud Gullit and Gianluca Vialli. For better or worse they're managers that like their players to express themselves.
09/04/2011 21:51:00
Ian Wright
10/04/2011 04:10:00
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