What is our obsession with pundits being Ex-Pros?By: Rob | September 21st, 2010
“No-one really knows that muich about Ben Arfa”
Really? Alan Shearer delivered those words on Saturday night on BBC Staple Match of the Day, met with a splutter from serious football fans from around the land. Really? We don’t know that much about Ben Arfa? The Ben Arfa that’s been playing in the Champions League on a regular basis? The one who has been capped by his country and that even Raymond Domenech realised would be a good player to take to the World Cup?Sheesh! As a Geordie, I assumed Shearer would have at least have done his research to find out about this new guy Newcastle had signed on loan. Especially if that is EXACTLY WHAT HIS JOB WAS.
Still, its nothing new. TV stations constantly employ “pundits” who are invariably famous ex-pros, who usually don’t actually know very much about the game. It seems odd, you would think being an ex-pro you would know all about the game, but that obviously isn’t the case. There are some aspects of the game that only a pro can really relate to – say the feeling of scoring in a cup final – but of actual game analysis, footballers aren’t required to be that knowledgeable.
Yet reading newspapers (and often, blogs) you find intelligent, cutting analysis. Goodness knows why these people aren’t on TV, you know the ones that understand the game, because they’ve spent their whole life analysing it.
Of course its because the general public wouldn’t recognise these knowledgeable beings, and the casual football fan doesn’t want to see Rafael Honigstien or Henry Winter, or Barney Ronay or Simon Kuper, they want to see someone they recognise. Alan Shearer, Jamie Redknapp, Andy Townsend or Robbie Earle.
But for anyone with more than a basic knowledge of the game, these pundits often come up shockingly short. Remember in the World Cup where the BBC Team proudly stated that basically none of the German side would get in the England team (based on the fact they hadn’t heard of most of them)?
There has to be a balance. Get an ex-pro as the “face” by all means, but don’t supplement them with even less knowledgeable ex-pros (or worse, failed ex-managers who can’t get a job in the real world) back them up with people who know what they are talking about, or at least have a bloody opinon instead of stating some cliché or horrible lack of knowledge.
Which pundits would you like to see in the studio on BBC or ITV or wherever? Which ones are th exceptions? And who must go as soon as possible?