The partisan TV pundits are taking over football - but does it matter?

Saturday, 18 May, 2019 41comments  |  Jump to last
"Today's product takes elements of the short-lived FanZone option with ex-players failing to conceal their emotions," writes Jonathan Liew.

"These days, it's virtually a given that an analyst – or even a presenter – will come with pre-existing allegiances that they will make no attempt to suppress.

"[I]n the intensely tribal world of club football, allegiance often goes much further than self-identity. In an environment where everybody is convinced the media has an agenda against their club, there seems to be an expectation from fans – and occasionally from clubs themselves – that ex-players should use the media to openly advocate for their club, as a sort of unofficial mouthpiece.

"[T]here are some honest-to-God real problems in football that we need to talk about... But these are questions that often don't fit neatly into a tribal discourse, that don't translate into a viral video on the BT Sport Twitter feed, that strike at the very fundamentals of the game and often affect its most powerful stakeholders. The hope, perhaps, is that if we're constantly being encouraged to turn on each other, they'll never get asked.

» Read the full article at The Independent

Reader Comments (41)

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Alexander Murphy
1 Posted 19/05/2019 at 08:00:20
As if by magic just as I read this here last night, the following arrived on My phone.

City Fan

Stan Schofield
2 Posted 19/05/2019 at 11:27:40
I avoid all the shite talked by the biased media as much as I can do, for example by not reading reports from the BBC and switching the sound off when watching MOTD. But I should not have to feel compelled to do all this.

There is a massive problem of bias in the media, that really equates to propaganda towards certain clubs. It does matter, and it matters a lot, because as always with propaganda it is a distortion of the truth.

It's an extremely irritating issue when even though you can try to avoid reading or listening to the media drivel, it's impossible to avoid people generally who have been exposed to it and regurgitate it. So you have to listen to people spouting shite, most of whom seem to have little awareness of history.

Vincent Kompany has said that City's achievements are upsetting the established order of things in football. I agree with him in the sense that City's style and panache truly reflects the 'beautiful game', football how it should be played as opposed to the baser and more workmanlike version from most other teams in Britain including the likes of Liverpool. But City's style certainly does not prevent the continued biases we see, an apparent reluctance to recognise the difference in quality and status between them and all others that their style reflects.

City remind me of Everton in the late 60s, a brand of football unequalled in this country. Like them, the recognition of it in many parts of the media has been scant and reluctant, and very irritating to Evertonians of my vintage.

Dave Abrahams
3 Posted 19/05/2019 at 12:21:25
Didn't know which thread to put this——-: I was asked a question last night but couldn't remember the answer, What colours did Everton play in when they played Inter Milan in the European Cup at Goodison Park in 1963?
Rob Halligan
4 Posted 19/05/2019 at 12:42:54
Dave, did we play in all white?
Brian Williams
5 Posted 19/05/2019 at 12:44:46
Gotta love that City supporter, and he's right to a certain extent. The number of ex rs pundits and co-commentators is sickening and over the top. The media wanted the rs to win the Premier League because it's more of a story for them and they can spout more shite for longer periods.

I just hope Spurs do the footballing world a favour and beat them in the Champions League Final and maybe (though not likely) they'll shut the fuck up for a couple of months.

Dave Abrahams
6 Posted 19/05/2019 at 12:53:30
Rob (4), yes, but I was at the game and thought we played in our normal colours, but apparently Inter Milan played in their normal colours and we played in all white, don’t know why, Still can’t recall us playing in all white in that game.
Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 19/05/2019 at 13:03:38
Brian, if Spurs win the cup, then watch the real bitters try and turn on little Everton mate.

That City fan, is correct, but he’s playing right into the hands of many delusional Liverpudlians, and he should have just celebrated his teams fantastic achievement.

The media are in-charge though, but the boot is definitely on the wrong foot so to Speak!

Brent Stephens
8 Posted 19/05/2019 at 13:23:32
Stan Schofield
9 Posted 19/05/2019 at 13:37:16
Tony@7: Yes, he should have focused just on City, he's giving the Shite the attention they crave.
John McFarlane Snr
10 Posted 19/05/2019 at 13:48:54
Hi Dave, [6] like yourself, I too was at the Inter Milan game and have no recollection of the colours worn. I have to rely on photographic evidence, [things you remember and things you don't.] I can only imagine that the toss of a coin decided the issue.
Derek Knox
11 Posted 19/05/2019 at 14:30:55
Dave A @6, and John @ 10, in medical terms I think you must have both have had a 'white out' but seriously, sometimes as John alluded too, you remember certain things, while others seem to completely vanish altogether.

Stan @2, with you 110% there mate, it is so annoying, especially for us, as most of the pundits are of the RS persuasion, you shouldn't have to turn the sound off or down because of those gobshites. It is encouraging in some small measure that the City fan has brought this up, but doubt if anything will ever change, or be done about it in the near future either.

Dave Abrahams
12 Posted 19/05/2019 at 20:25:40
Brent (8), belated thanks for that confirmation.

John (10), yes I accepted, last night or about 2-00am this morning, that we had played in all white because the fella who asked me knows his stuff, and I suggested maybe they tossed up to decide who played in those colours.

Derek (11), yes it’s strange how you can remember with certainty many things but have no recollection of others.

Bill Watson
13 Posted 19/05/2019 at 20:46:46
I was at that game but, even though I'm usually good at trivial stuff like that, I just don't recall it. Very odd!
Dermot Byrne
14 Posted 19/05/2019 at 21:26:20
Is there equally a sense that we have got to a point that unless pundits say we or anyone are good, then they aren't?

In the end most pundits say what the producers tell them to say and the big reason they talk about Man Utd, RS and others is they have biggest following abroad. And those fans abroad also want to see guys from "their" teams talking about "their" clubs.

And MotD etc make big big money from selling PL programmes abroad.

So expect no change and when ya realise the reasons behind it, it is just another example of a corrupt and stacked PL.

Andy Meighan
15 Posted 19/05/2019 at 21:32:43

We played in all-white.

Obviously I wasn't at the game but a mate of mine who's a few years older was and he often asks anyone who's prepared to listen, "What colours did we play in?"

I've seen many a fanatical blue look at him quizzically and say "Blue, what do you bleeding think?"

He'll then say, smirking, "No, all-white!" Still makes me laugh, though.

Derek Thomas
16 Posted 19/05/2019 at 22:27:20
The rule was back then in the two big cups, FA & European. That the Home team changed if there was a clash. As they had ready access to a different strip.

There does seem to be a small ground swell of awareness now to the rs infiltration. We've been saying it for years obviously, but we didn't count, we were not a sky darling and the rs infiltration just called us bitter.

City have broken the spell but are the 'wrong manchester' team. We need to break the self imposed spell ourselves. If WHU ever did something (Ha) they would be the 'wrong London' club.

Christine Foster
17 Posted 19/05/2019 at 23:20:20
Yes, at that game, it was white and I remember Alex Young with his shirt ripped to bits in front of me. I was in the front of Goodison road by the dugouts on a barrier.. shouting my little voice horse to no avail.. what an atmosphere though.. Once it bites you there is no going back..
Ste Traverse
18 Posted 19/05/2019 at 23:25:53
Personally I'm long since bored shitless with paranoid football fans constantly cryarseing over what pundits say. Reading sites of other clubs nearly all of them have fans who believe the media hates them and has an agenda against their club.

If you don't like certain pundits then put your fucking mute button to good use.

Jamie Crowley
19 Posted 20/05/2019 at 02:16:35
I don't blame pundits waxing lyrical over Man City and the rs this year.


Because in an honest moment they were both stellar teams. And that two horse race was a good one. It was news, and it's their job to analyze the big games and stories.

I do think there's a fairly obvious bias towards the rs in the English media. It is what it is, it drives me nuts, and I don't have to live with it every damn day.

But I have to agree with Ste. If it bugs you that much, have a bitch, or implement the button on your remote that says mute.

I do wish the pundits paid more attention to the "other" teams. Here in America you only hear about the top teams. I'd like them to analyze why Fulham had such a crap year, why Southampton avoided the drop, and yes, why Wolves were so successful. Hell, how about talking about the job the Fat Spanish Waiter did with dysfunctional ownership and no real money at New Castle? It's part of football, and for me it's just as engaging as Man City's superior season, Man U's "fall", the rs's season, all of it. More coverage of the entire league would be welcome.

England seemingly hires a hell of a lot of pundits from the rs and Man U. They need to hire more pundits from other clubs, and I think you'd have more balanced coverage.

Kyle Martino, Robbie Earl, Robbie Mustoe, Warren Barton, etc., do a really good job over here being very balanced and fair. I do indeed see way more bias in England. Little comments, digs, the blatant excitement for a side, it all rears its ugly head when I watch / listen to the English coverage. Don't know why, but I do believe it's very real. And I have a barometer to check it against over here.

Eric Myles
20 Posted 20/05/2019 at 03:32:35
Dermot #14, I don't think MOTD is sold overseas, all the countries I've been in have their own pundits doing analysis, or show the Sky punditry.

I've never seen MOTD in any other country but England.

Dermot Byrne
21 Posted 20/05/2019 at 06:40:04
And there my argument and paranoia fall to the ground Eric! Still, no harm in admitting a post written after a glass on a Sunday evening was not perhaps as thought-through as it may have been!

Mercifully it doesn't matter a jot!

Eddie Dunn
22 Posted 20/05/2019 at 07:53:44
Jamie- Watching the U.S. coverage with the likes of Mustoe and Earl has been a revelation for me. The pundits are much more fair, as you say and the whole feel to the shows is straightforward, honest assessment.
The fawning commentators and boring stereotypes we have here in Britain are just bigger names.
It is a shame that BT Sport now share people from BBC as the tv rights have been carved-up but the lazy broadcasters use the same old faces as the status quo is maintained.
Si Cooper
23 Posted 20/05/2019 at 08:35:17
I’m not as bothered about pundits openly displaying their allegiances (that doesn’t necessarily have to result in flagrant bias - witness our old boys Leon Osman and Kevin Kilbane maintaining their objectivity) as I am by rank bad commentary. Mowbray and Jenas make me cringe as they just don’t seem to have the common touch. Mowbray obviously believes hyperbole trumps nuance and insight and the pair had me ranting at the TV screen again on Saturday when they failed to see Cholevas clearly playing the ball against the Citeh player’s foot in the slow-mo replay. At least the assistant ref had the excuse of one viewing at full speed!
As for the article’s insinuation that the trend is mainly about masking broader issues; nah, it is simply that tribalism has never had as much commercial clout and the media will always go with what is popular with the masses.
Stan Schofield
24 Posted 20/05/2019 at 08:39:01
Ste@18 and Jamie@19: Yes, it is possible to use the mute button, and also to not bother reading a biased media. This is what some of us do, as @2. But a point of this thread is a discussion of the bias and whether it matters. It clearly does matter, no matter how much we try to avoid the shite being talked by the media.
Dave Abrahams
25 Posted 20/05/2019 at 09:05:57
Stan (24), first of all sorry for stealing some of your thread with my question about Everton’s colours Ijust chose a thread at random.

As for for pundits, no real football fan needs them,we mostly understand football and don’t want “professionals” giving us their opinion biased or otherwise. Looking at the vastly overpaid smug Lineker is more than enough for me on the rare occasions I watch MOTD and that goes for all of the others.

Liam Reilly
26 Posted 20/05/2019 at 10:28:32
There's a lot of ex reds pundits and several of them wear their colours on their sleeves; but so do the Ex-Evertonian's: Peter Reid, Tim Cahill; even Moyes was on Sky recently saying 'US' when talking about Everton.

Some of the reds though make sense: Carragher talking about a mental issue with Everton against the big boy's - that's spot on (although slowly changing under Silva). Souness is often spot on too as is McManaman; because sometimes the truth hurts.

It's the papers and online reporting that gets me. Recently the Mail had a spread on how harsh losing the league was on LPL and the headline ' Now go and conquer Europe'. Disgraceful bias and totally disrespectful to Tottenham.

I'm sure if spurs do beat them, there will be a petition to replay the game.

Ray Smith
27 Posted 20/05/2019 at 10:31:48
You would think the pundits who were generally very good footballers never missed a sitter, or were never caught out at the back.

Commentators/Pundits have lost the art of commentating on the match they are watching, making trivial comments about games they remember in the past. Dig up Ken Wolstenholme, I’m sure he’d do better than Martin Tyler who’s sell by date is long gone along with Geoff Stelling.

Paul Johnson
28 Posted 20/05/2019 at 11:47:20
Comment of the season - Souness at half time claiming that the Richarlison overhead kick v Man Utd should have been disallowed for dangerous kicking.
One eyed monster. I don’t expect much except a little balance. It runs deeper than just commentator bias, during the final game of the season we had twice as many efforts on goal as spurs, both on and off target yet the match of the day coverage did not reflect this stat. A bit to much of big brother for me particularly when you consider the BBC is a publicly funded organisation.
Kevin Molloy
29 Posted 20/05/2019 at 12:28:15
The pundits now all desperately compete to be the first to notice something an ordinary fan might not. So, if Alan Smith spots our winger was a yard offside when he crosses for a goal, that is a feather in his cap. I suspect that is why Souness is flogging that particular dead horse, if their resident ref had agreed with him, it is all brownie points with his sky masters.
Eddie Dunn
30 Posted 20/05/2019 at 12:41:00
Well Jenas giving MotM to a bloke who came on after 50 mins was purely an example of him (Jenas) desperately trying to be too clever. Sterling, Bernado and Jesus had all worked tirelessly with considerable skill to take the game away from Watford before De Bruyne put the icing on the cake with his (admittedly) superb cameo.
Joe Corgan
31 Posted 20/05/2019 at 13:29:35
Shoot me down in flames if you like, but I don't personally understand why ALL pundits have to be ex-players now. I appreciate they've played the game, often at the highest level, but there are many, many people out there who arguably know more about football than they do!

Being blessed with the talent to play football professionally and being able to offer an insight into what happens behind the scenes at a football club is one thing, but truly understanding the game is not something that even the best players necessarily do. There are many fans out there who truly study the game and, I'm sure, could do a better job of communicating their opinions to viewers. Let's face it, a former player's ability to communicate seems to have little bearing on whether they're employed as pundits (Andy Townsend, Martin Keown, Michael Owen, I'm looking at you!)

Paul Baxter
32 Posted 20/05/2019 at 14:35:46
My wife has no interest whatsoever in football at all and she sums them all up perfectly whenever I've watched a live match...

“Why do all these dickheads have to discuss the match for an hour after it's finished?”

Phil (Kelsall) Roberts
33 Posted 20/05/2019 at 15:26:16
Paul, tell your wife "what do you think we talk about in the pub/car after the game and before we arrive home?

Picking up a different point. Can you work out how long it would be from public statement to sacking if Leon was openly anti-Liverpool and questioned Barcelona's bottle and that was why they lost or punched the air after 0-0 at Goodison and said it is now City's title to lose and that is 29 years and counting. Serves them right for Hyssel and stopping Everton conquering Europe.

So do measure it in milliseconds?

Martin Nicholls
34 Posted 20/05/2019 at 15:51:52
Joe#31 - good shout about Townsend, Keown and Owen but for me the worst of the lot is Ian Wright. I'll never forget in summarising what went wrong in a particular move, his insightful "if 'ed'a went there, 'ed'a been there"!
Tom Bowers
35 Posted 20/05/2019 at 16:02:20
I, like some fans, switch off all the pre-match and post-match opinions as they are quite boring. Most of us know what's going on and don't want their slants on the players, the teams or what the managers did wrong or right.

It's bad enough having to listen to some of them doing commentary during the game, one of the worst of them is Gary Neville.

Jamie Crowley
36 Posted 20/05/2019 at 20:03:00
Stan @ 24 -

Fair enough. I did try to add to the discussion above and beyond the mute button, but point taken.

Eddie @ 22 -

Once you get a taste of the USA coverage, it's really obvious watching English coverage in my opinion. Our coverage is so much better on the whole. We're very fortunate. Robbie Earl is generally fantastic with Everton in my opinion. He's often stated how big a club we are, and how we simply need to demand and aspire to more success.

Darren Hind
37 Posted 20/05/2019 at 20:21:22
I don't mind it at all. They give you endless supplies of Ammo.

Young lad down our street (natural born Kopite winder upper) rode up and down on his bike after City beat Leicester shouting "You fucking dancer, Kompany"

One of those rare moments when you wished Carragher was a neighbour.

William Gall
38 Posted 20/05/2019 at 20:45:03
I was at the game against Inter, in the Gwladys Street End, but I don't remember the colours but I believe that was the game where Tony Kay sent their winger Jair about 3ft off the ground on the paddock street side of the ground.
William Gall
39 Posted 20/05/2019 at 20:58:50
Edie #22,

I live in Canada and they have ex Premier League players for pundits, who seem more normal with their comments on the games shown while trying to give an honest assessment on the games.

Regarding your comment on the Premier League games being carved up to various media coverage, in Canada we had nearly every game that was played on the weekend and Monday showed by TSN. They have now lost the rights to the Premier League and we will have to pay DANZ in America to stream the games.

Tony Abrahams
40 Posted 20/05/2019 at 21:29:47
Sounds like a good kid him Darren! My mates lad is eleven, and he had a bet that he would run up and down his street bollocko if City won the league.

When City made it four at Brighton the kid was off, screaming his head off and punching the air in delight, and probably telling everyone he was an even better dancer than Kompany!

Brian Wilkinson
41 Posted 28/05/2019 at 17:26:23
Tony@7, could not agree more mate, and they have the cheek to call us bitters, be all smiles beforehand, Klopp smiling, the media gushing and laughing back at his pre match interview, if it goes tits up a different mood altogether, from Klopp snarling, and their supporters dragging past glories up o the media sucking up to Klopp.

Will get shot down in flames here but if it goes tits up a certain event will be brought back into the lime light to deflect the defeat away, will say no more, but sure most Evertonians will know what I mean, freedom of speech a thing of the past, but mark my word, if it goes tits up, we will be the blunt of their anger.

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