Ultimate XI – Football Pundits

by Sam Rider

Saturday, May 16th, 2009

Now I don’t mean to rip off the idea Dexy, but this whole best XI business somehow got my mind racing. It got me thinking about those past and present who have been our eyes, ears and experts on the game, and just what we think about them. Who do we appreciate (see below) and who are best forgotten (see David Pleat, Mark Lawrenson, John Barnes, etc.). So here is my Ultimate 11 of pundits, critics, presenters and commentators for the game we all know and love:

Bob Primrose Wilson


A stalwart of British football broadcasting on BBC and ITV. His dignified refined manner and caring charitable spirit have earned him an OBE, yet with a middle name being the source of ridicule in the past, a savage side boils just under the surface. A keeper with a complex makes a much more dangerous proposition, so don’t expect any charity in the commentary box Lowro or to get away with any mumblings from Mr Pleat. He won’t take no shit.

Alan Hansen

Center Back

wise old head at the back who is still repenting for his comments: “You’ll never win anything with kids”. But thereby lies his value. He’d have plenty to prove to the young start ups coming into the punditry world like that Jamie ‘one suit, Andy Gray suck up’ Redknapp.

Marcel Desailly

Center Back

With heart on his sleeve performances and sheer jubilance on the touch lines before a big game, it is clear he’s just happy to be there. Rubbing shoulders with a plethora of footballing greats across Europe and Africa, he has combined a French panache with his Ghanaian gusto to enthrall viewers the world over.

Soccer AM’s Tim Lovejoy and Helen Chamberlain

Full backs

Their partnership for the better side of a decade on the Saturday morning show, witnessed more often than is healthy with a pounding dehydrating hang over, did more to whet the appetite for a weekend of football festivities than a lifetime supply of gobstoppers. With these two flanking the hard nuts in the centre, their enthusiasm and joviality would invigorate the Pundit XI, though their repeated attempts at the Cross-Bar challenge could disrupt proceedings slightly.

Jeff Stelling (Captain)

Center Midfield

With a patented drinking game and forays into day time TV on Countdown, Jeff’s international recognition would be priceless for shirt sales and merchandising. His ability to orchestrate his comrades every frantic Saturday afternoon and his loyal devotion to his hometown club Hartlepool have solidified his symbolic stature and role model capabilities for generations to come.

Chris Kamara

Center Midfield

“It’s unbelievable Jeff!” Chris Kamara truly is just that. A hard man on the pitch and a nutter off it, he has the ability to excite even the most mundane of Middlesbrough matches and his off camera antics would keep studio morale on the up even when the bitter Hansen tries to douse it.

Matt Le Tissier

Right Wing

A spot kick expert, he is generally spot-on when it comes to crunch time. With a formidable gut, you know he could handle his bitter on the South coast (better than his weathered colleague Paul Merson), and his aptness for the majestic has been carried over from his playing days to the Soccer Saturday live-commentary team, excelling where the mere mortals of Charlie Nickolas and Phil Thompson simply cannot compete.

Guillem Balague

Left Wing

To satiate Sepp Bleater, we’ve rationed the foreign imports to just two, but drawn the cultured penmanship and multi-lingual abilities of Guillem to these shores. As a shrewd tactician with a continental craftiness, he would be in the know for those vital European fixtures and have the tricks up his sleeve to mesmerise the audience with his Catalan control of the mic. GOOOOOOOOAAAAAAALLLLLLLLL.

Andy Grey

Center Foward

He may be a biased bastard but he sure knows a thing or two about the game and can be relied on to have the final astute word. Sky are reportedly throwing 20 grand a week at him and have even introduced that fool Redknapp to whisper sweet nothings in his ear and keep him sweet. Golden Boots, Young Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year during his career and a renowned playboy and womanizer off the pitch underline his value to our Pundit XI. Take a bow, son.

Martin Tyler

Center Foward

Like Bangers and Mash, Torvill and Dean, Kylie and hot pants, the combination of Gray and Tyler makes as much sense as it does quality punditry. Their harmonious collaborations provide perfect symmetry to the football game. As a striking double act for a Commentators XI charity game, in which he scored from an Andy Gray cross, underlines their potency in spearheading this team against all the young pretenders of Setanta and ITV.

Des Lynam


Old Des needs no introducing. His presenting skills span a multitude of formats, fermenting his talents on Match of the Day, before the big eared Lineker filled his boots; a favourite amongst the ladies, young and old, has seen him hold the allure of the feisty Vorderman on Countdown, before Jeff bumped her for a younger model. Similarly to Wilson, an OBE has been his reward for his charismatic performances on the box. And his enigmatic charm, of which Mourinho would be proud, would captivate the press room and inspire the pundit’s dressing room alike. All in a day’s work for Des and his boys.

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  • http://reassessthepress.wordpress.com Sam

    Think you’ve got Marcel Desailly mixed up with Alan Hansen and there’s no bit about the Scot centre back. Just noticed.

  • Stevie

    Jeff Stelling is the king! It used to be Des but he was only good with his team of Hansen and Lawernson.

    Jamie Redknapp is the most positive man in the world. Half time England 0 Andorra 0, Redknapp says at least we are getting forward. Right O Jamie with your hands on your knees from presenting school…

  • Jackie Emu

    Can’t stand Jamie Redknapp…it’s always a friller and he’s such a fret at
    set pieces…they deserve free nil…please speak without the cockney twang
    it drives me up the wall. And he’s started hosting… he asks other guest
    questions calm down jamie. And why does he get to comment on his dad’s
    teams? he’s never going to critise the old tic toc is he…

    Andy Gray don’t get me started on him…he basically favours which ever team
    is winning…embarrassing…he’s the first to critcise any team outside the
    top 6 yet he couldn’t hack life as a coach himself…andy gray p*ss off.

    Merson’s not on this least but he’s terrible as well…as Jamie can’t talk

    The best for me Kamara and Stelling the most impartial and the funniest…

  • Dan Church

    Merson…..oooooooooohhhhh hes hit the beans on toast…..classic.

  • http://ukfootballfinder.co.uk/ Darren

    I rate Merson, he’s as thick as but funny with it.

    Jackie Emu is bitter as he slags of Boro all the time, lets face it, who doesn’t!!

  • dexylongshot

    No worries on the rip off Sam, everybodie’s at it, it’s the new black.

    Pretty much spot on with all of them.
    Although can I suggest the grand-daddy of them all, Brian moore. R.I.P.
    What a ledge.

  • http://www.ukfootballfinder.co.uk Darren

    although Satanda is pretty crap I have to say Chris Waddle is legend, referring to the PR stunt with the shirts, ‘That’s just sad’. Brilliant!

  • Patrick

    Bob Wilson was sh*te. I reckon Leonardo was quality at the 2006 World Cup when he blatantly showed up Ian ‘Wrighty’ Wright with some awesome skills. Martin O’Neill is pretty decent too. Tells it like it is. Worst ever would have to Garth Crooks. The slowest speaker ever. And always so serious. What a tw*t.

  • http://reassessthepress.wordpress.com Sam

    Too right with Leonardo, he had a class tournament. But O’Neill has never done it for me. His management style may be reserved and meticulous but his punditry style needs a bit of updating. He seemed to suck all the banter out the room when he was speaking. And as for Wilson – well I was looking for someone good between the sticks and Schmiechel’s nose is far too red and Danish accent far too manc for him to be my pick.

  • Martin Tibbetts

    Andy Gray!!! Knows what he is talking about! You are having a laugh aren’t you? Arrogant, opinionated bastard, no problem with that but opinion changes daily. And his interpretation of the rules are dubious at best. The man can never be wrong.

    I remember a few years ago an incident when a whistle was blown in the crowd, some players stopped and a goal was scored and given. In his wisdom afterwards our Andy claimed that if a whistle goes in the crowd the game should immediately be stopped and a drop ball take place – didn’t cross his mind that this would lead to every fan turning up with a whistle and blowing it at every goal scoring opportunity. The man is a cretin.

  • http://reassessthepress.wordpress.com Sam

    Ah! thought someone would be agahst to see Andrew Gay up there as Jamie Redknapp affectionately calls him. But in my experience he is more often than not on the money if you cut through all the pretences and ‘trends of the day’ that he latches onto. Plus as I mentioned you have to put up with Gray to get the best out of Tyler. They’re one package and he normally keeps him in check.

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