Fantasy Football pundits
Following on from the news that Steve Coppell has left Bristol City under distinctly odd and unclear circumstances, it was pointed out by a friend that Coppell will probably return to his easy life of doing occasional but extremely dull punditry. The thought of him boring us into submission during half time of an uninteresting early Sunday afternoon match on Sky is one that fills me with dread. It also raises the spectre of the bland punditry that football fans were forced to endure during the World Cup, which in turn prompted equally tedious jokes about droning, vuvuzelas, pundits and mute buttons.
But let’s stop this whinging and be slightly more positive. It’s the start of the new season, and we should be looking forward to the thrills and spills and excitement of it all. We shouldn’t be contemplating driving sleet on open terraces midweek in February or the utter pointlessness of the Champions League group stages. That’s for later on in the year.
So, in that vein of positivity, who would make up your dream punditry line-up for the coming season? Who do you think would be the ultimate team to analyse and take apart even the most excruciating lower mid-table clash and imbue it with interest, insight and humour? Here’s mine:
I grew up watching AC Jimbo on Gazzetta Football Italia and that man has played a huge part in my football education. Therefore I will always have a huge soft spot for him. But he’s still the best host out there and one who’s been sadly left on the bench for too long. He brings terrible (but hilarious) puns and similes, great knowledge of the ins and outs of the game off the pitch, a wealth of European experience and the ability to look effortlessly cool eating ice cream and reading the newspapers in an Italian piazza. Just having someone with an open mind and knowledge of football on the continent and further afield guiding the conversation will mean that talking points will not be confined to the Premiership and an unhealthy fixation on the fate of the England national side. Which is a crime that far too many BBC, ITV and to a lesser extent Sky pundits and anchors are guilty of. He also has the ability to manage an unruly mob of whingers and malcontents, as can be seen from his work on the Guardian Football Weekly Podcast. Anyone who can keep serial miserabilist Barry Glendenning (largely) on the straight and narrow deserves high praise.
Honourable mention goes to Jeff Stelling. We love you Jeff, but you’re just not as cool as Jimbo.
Newly available for punditry duties following his exit from Aston Villa, O’Neill can be combative, slightly spiky and unafraid to speak his mind and tell other people that they are wrong. This would be annoying if he didn’t bring years of first hand experience to the shiny studio coffee table which he’s perfectly happy to share in an uncomplicated manner, and it’s clear that if he does wind people up it’s not simply for the sake of it. O’Neill replaces ‘Woy’ Hodgson, who was a highlight of the World Cup.
Mr Cool. Extremely intelligent, well spoken and unafraid to throw in a slightly elaborate metaphor. Which is good, as football shouldn’t be totally dumbed down, it can be complicated. He has an easy, relaxed manner in the studio, seems comfortable with a bit of light banter and is not afraid to make fun of himself.
This will be the one that will raise people’s eyebrows, but the fact is that Stan is a highly intelligent, astute reader of the game who has been, ahem, dogged by controversy throughout his playing career and subsequent stint at punditry. He’s been harshly treated, undeservedly so (read his frankly excellent autobiography to find out the details of it) and his early promise warrants a stint in the big leagues so he can show us what he’s capable of.
Roving pitchside reporter
Everyone loves Kammy, don’t they? Worth inclusion for the ‘tache alone.
It was also suggested that Martin Keown could be given a free role to add that ‘psycopath lurking’ factor. An interesting (if terrifying) proposition.
I’m pretty sure lots of people will disagree with these choices, so let us know who you think would make a better line-up.