Ruud Gullit Hiring Shows ESPN’s Commitment to Doing it Right in 2010


ESPN’s coverage plans for the World Cup continue to get more detailed and exciting. Ruud Gullit, who is one of the most significant figures in Football over the past twenty five years, has been hired to provide commentary for the network.

Gullit is best remembered as World Player of the Year both with PSV and AC Milan, as well as being the manager who brought Chelsea its first domestic silverware in over twenty five years.  Gullit’s hiring is especially significant for this particular World Cup as he dedicated his 1987 World Player of the Year award to then jailed Nelson Mandela.

Gullit won three Scudetto’s with AC Milan, as well as three European Cups/Champions Leagues. Gullit’s signifgance as a manager in the Premier League has been undersold. He developed the first truly cosmopolitan side in English club football history at Chelsea, signing players such as Zola and Vialli from England, Petrescu from Romania and Frank LeBoeuf from France.

LeBoeuf will also be part of ESPN’s commentary team and has already joined the network for occasional Press Pass appearances.

Gullit, will no doubt be critiqued by some MLS fans as lacking the credibility to cover the World Cup for an American audience after his firing by the Los Angeles Galaxy. While some MLS oriented fans may minimize the importance of the Gullit hiring, those who support Chelsea, or Milan have very different memories of the man.

Additionally, Gullit’s brand name among general fans of World Football is very high. After a World Cup in 2006, where ESPN’s credibility was undermined by the use of Baseball announcers and jingoistic code throughout the telecasts, 2010 appears to have a different bent.

The hiring of Gullit was preceded by Martin Tyler, Efan Ekoku and Steve McManaman, all individuals of impeccable reputations and credibility as broadcasters. ESPN’s coverage will also be enhanced by the hiring of Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez and the continued presence of LeBoeuf and former West Ham/Pompey Goalkeeper Shaka Hislop.

The hiring of Gullit brings an unmatched credibility to ESPN’s coverage. A commentator who has been highly sought after in Holland and England, Gullit’s sharp opinions have helped to characterize the success of Sky Sports and ITV’s football coverage.

Gullit’s task will be to bring the same controversial, but razor sharp analysis of the game to an American audience that he has been so successfully critiqued for across the pond.

ESPN has a choice with the versatile Gullit: he can be used as a studio analyst, alongside Steve McManaman or used as a match commentator alongside Martin Tyler, Derek Rae or Adrian Healey. Either way, ESPN cannot lose with the hard core World Football fan.

22 thoughts on “Ruud Gullit Hiring Shows ESPN’s Commitment to Doing it Right in 2010”

  1. Gullitt seems like a good choice especially after the inept announcers that have been pawned off on MLS in the past, Lalas being one of the worst. I would also like to see a lot more of Efam Ekoku — he sounds like an announcer and looks like a soccer player.

  2. during the espn telecast of the draw jeremy schaap talked to gullit about the events of the day and gillit could not have sounded less informed, less inspired and less humble – i hope i will be proven wrong by gullit, but i am not afraid to be one of the few who says that i have serious doubts about him

    and add to that we have mcmanaman and ekoku who talk as though the entire football world begins and ends with the english premiership

    the best part of euro 2008 was the fact that england were not in it, which made the commentators stretch a little and acknowledge skill from all corners

  3. Really? Gullitt makes their efforts seem legitimate? No, Martin Tyler makes them seem legitimate. Gullitt makes me think twice. This is to be broadcast for an American audience and the man clearly has no respect for the American game. He is a cocky old geezer who couldn’t hack it managing in the MLS and pitched a fit about it afterward instead of admitting it was simply a different challenge and one he wasn’t up to.

    Martin Tyler will be good, Ruud Gullitt makes me wretch.

  4. That Gullit interview with Schaap was truly terrible, easily the worst part of the draw show. Gullit had nothing to offer. Also, somebody needs to tell him that Michael Essien plays for Ghana.

    He needs to be much better informed if he is going to do an even passable job as an analyst during the World Cup.

  5. ESPN’s team is absolutely top notch. Ekoku, Lalas, and McManaman are going to be great. I’m not familiar with Gullit as an announcer or pundit, so I’ll reserve judgment, but Kartik is usually always right :)

  6. What no Eric Wynalda since he maybe coaching the Fire?

    Yes, it seems that ESPN has gone top shelf to bring an “A” team to the World Cup coverage. Despite any discussion of Guillet’s record in MLS he brings a voice of world wide note to American viewers. Well done to the World Wide Leader and another sign soccer means something to American’s.

    1. I want you to be lying about Wynalda. Has he ever demonstrated a capacity to coach? I swear on a stack of holy things, Hauptman… You own Chicago, not RBNY. Hire someone worthy to take the reins.

    2. Wynalda recently admitted that ESPN told him to over hype the US team and he really did not believe the 2006 team was very good before the World Cup. I don’t think they will be re-hiring him.

      Wylanda’s criticisms of MLS and the US Player Development system are mostly right on, but we have a system in this country that punishes dissent even from your greatest players, so I am sure he will not get a job in the league.

      Ironic, since this nation’s value system is contrary to those of US Soccer and MLS in many ways. We encourage free speech and dissent. But the league and federation are so paranoid about those like Waldo actually making cognizant points about where we are failing that they want them ostracized and shut up.

      1. Thanks for the info on Wynalda. I never heard an explanation for his departure. It was a terrible decision to let him go. He was a REAL announcer, truly telling it like he saw it. Even when I disagreed, which was often, he made me feel like soccer was truly mainstream. Listen to other sports announcers and you will hear negatives being voiced. The EPL announcers are great for trashing outrageously bad play.
        Bring Waldo back but not as the Fire coach—–I want Caleb Porter !!!!!

      2. K–

        Where and when did Wynalda say this? Any links to that story?

        Also, while I think that what ESPN is doing is in the right direction–at least it looks like they are trying to do something for the sport–do you have a sense as to how their non-soccer coverage/shows are going to be impacted by the World Cup? I remember hearing something about Sportscenter at the World Cup.

        Where I get nervous is if too many of ESPN’s “local talent”–i.e. those jokers who shuck and jive and make fools of themselves every morning on Sportscenter–are going to somehow be shoehorned into ESPN’s coverage. (Just the idea of having those dolts try to show soccer highlights makes me sick.) These dolts have proven, with the small number of highlights already aired on Sportscenter, that they have little knowledge of the game; further, there is a general repugance for our game in their attempts to have fun at soccer’s expense. John Anderson, one of the worst of ESPN’s hacks, did a radio piece (I think they called it “commentary”) during the summer that, beyond its startling ignorance and error, was extremely critical of the sport. Unfortunately, can’t seem to find the clip; heard it on the radio during the summer, and it might have been related to the Conferations Cup. A stirling piece of ignorance from a true dunce.

    1. Sure, he knows EPL. Does he know anything else? Anything that would be helpful to a US audience?

      This is hardly the first time US broadcasters have hired foreigners. It’s nice to have something besides people who are really baseball experts pretending to be soccer experts, but just because he knows EPL doesn’t mean he’ll be good covering the World Cup for ESPN. We’ll see.

  7. If he’s mixed in with Lalas and Foudy and Harkes I could see him possibly being a compliment. He would be in a good position to analyze the European teams. My only concern is that ESPN will kill off the appeal to new American soccer fans and non-fans checking it out for the first time by loading up on people with foreign accents. We need commentators and analysts with American English accents, too. I even hope for a TV personality with a Southern American English accent since the game has made such weaker inroads down there.

    There should be at least one commentator with an American accent for the USA game telecasts. The telecasts should appeal to all potentail TV viewers, not just the coveted Eurosnob/Europhile.

  8. Anytime the EPL gets mentioned there is a reflexive outpouring of anger . Sorry but I don’t get it!! First of all the EPL is not a monolithic entity. As far as teams go, the top of the table has some fantastic teams, the bottom has teams that actually hurt your eyes to watch. Therefore we should appreciate and emulate the best and ignore the worst. Same goes for EPL announcers. some are top rate and many are pitiful — just like the NFL.
    The constant whining just makes us look like pathetic wannabe’s. If we are going to progress then we need to recognize excellence and emulate it where-ever it exists. However, for those similarly close-minded EPL fans, I would urge you to take a close look at Stoke City before you start criticizing MLS.

  9. I get it.
    The Euro-lovers (not all of course, maybe not even most….who knows ) watching the EPL games, while declaring the MLS unwatchable are screwing over soccer in this country. Both MLS and USMNT.
    MLS will never be great until the rest of the league draws like the Sounders, with higher TV ratings. That will never happen until people pay to watch it.
    EPL IS the biggest competition.
    The USMNT will never be great until the soccer league in THIS country is great.

    Check out ESPN site today, EPL scores scrolling across the top…that ever happen for MLS ?

    Nuf to put a guy to post “angry” posts.

  10. Gullit is a great hiring. Everything I have read about his work on Sky Sports in the UK has been positive. The man has a great knowledge of soccer, so I look forward to seeing/hearing his comments come June.

  11. Hello ESPN!!!!!!!!!!!
    If you want to control the emotions of football lovers ( here in the US you said soccer) and to continue to dominate the market, hold on to Guulit.


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