Sky Sports and bad punditry

by Kobina Monney

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

I’m not a fan of Sky Sports; despite watching it more than I should. It’s shallow and far too excitable when covering the most mundane topic. I watch it anyway and it can be funny in seeing how relentless they can be in self-promotion. What annoys me though is the punditry, and how bad it is at times.

Sky Sports News on Saturday or to give its (infuriating) full name, Gillette Soccer Saturday (we’re not in America people), has its panel of footballing “experts” parading such messiahs (or pariahs) in the shape of Paul Merson and big nose Phil Thompson. On the subject of Tottenham’s result against Liverpool, Merson uttered that Carroll, Henderson and Adam wouldn’t get into the Spurs first team, obviously forgetting that this was a club that gave Peter Crouch, Alan Hutton and Jermaine Jenas an opportunity to earn their wages last season.

Without any analytical insight, Merson gave this baseless, thoughtless opinion as if it were a indisputable fact and it struck me just how little ex-footballers know or understand football. Thompson came back with the retort of (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘why did Tottenham try to sign Adam then?’ before Merson bundled out an illogical response. For people who get paid to talk about football, and convincingly for that matter, it’s alarming these critical insights are anything but insightful.

And it happens elsewhere, Match of the Day gets stick for their genial banter and analysis that revolves around very well worn clichés. Shearer’s comment on Ben Arfa as being “some player from France” showed a lack of consideration for foreign leagues, players and anything that doesn’t sprout up from the green, crisp surfaces of England’s football pitches. Nonetheless, there are a few bright spots.

ESPN’s Press Pass is a good analytical “talk-show” and although it covers few leagues in its short half-hour runtime (Bundesliga, La Liga, Premier League, Serie A, Eredivisie), it does so in great detail, spurring up some heated debate and looking at an issue from a multitude of viewpoints. Just hearing Janusz Michallik and Gabrielle Marcotti have a conversation and your interest in leagues other than the Premier League should go up.

Another bright spot is Football Weekly, the podcast from The Guardian that espouses on everything football-related covering the major (and some minor) leagues on the continent. It’s hosted by James Richardson (that’s Jimbo to all us Football Weekly fans), the presentor who used to host the terrific TV magazine Football Italia and should, if we were living in an almost perfect world, be the host of Match of the Day (at the very least MOTD 2).

I don’t expect football punditry to get any better than it is right now but at least there are some shows that don’t pander to the lowest common denominator.

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  • Joe Turnbull

    I completely agree actually sometimes it leaves me with my head in my hands

  • paul

    Gabrielle Marcotti is the best pundit by a mile, he really does know his stuff. The fact is, because he has an American accent people don’t take him seriously, which is wrong, because this guy should be prime time viewing!

  • SRJ

    Carroll, Henderson and Adam would not get in Spurs first team. Parker > Adam, Bale/Modric > Henderson, Adebayor > Carroll…just because Liverpool paid well over the odds for all 3 does not make them better than the average players they really are. You’re just a typical, bitter Liverpool fan who can’t see sense, just like Thompson.

  • Kobina Monney

    What on earth are you talking about? Where did I say they were better, where did i talk about how much they cost? That’s not even what the article is about (hence the title) and no, I’m not a Liverpool fan, perhaps you should read the article properly before you spout needless drivel

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