Who Are Your Favorite Pundits in the Premier League?

Turn on your TV to watch a game anywhere in the world and the chances are that you will soon see the face of an ex-footballer attempting to share his knowledge of the game with you. Except that all too often it appears as though that knowledge, or at the very least the ability to express it, is very limited.

Stan Collymore has brought this topic up on Twitter in the past week and it has become fashionable amongst football fans to bemoan the quality of analysis from ex-footballers. But is this a huge generalization? And what do we mean when we say that someone’s analysis has been poor?

Kristan has made the point on the podcast before that as a journalist working on football he spends a large amount of his time doing research. This means looking at players linked to clubs, finding articles about them, looking at match footage and generally improving his knowledge of the game. It appears as though many of the ex-pros on our screens do not engage in this practice.

How many times have you heard the phrase “We don’t know too much about this guy” or similar? My guess is that your answer is somewhere along the lines of “too often.”

Televised football has become such a big industry today that the demand for quality rightly stretches far beyond the on-pitch product. We all expect to see the best use of statistics and graphics. We also expect to have our appreciation of the game enhanced by those paid to watch and analyze it. Too often though the best analysis comes the day after in the newspaper and dare I say it in blogs.

However we should not fall into the trap of lazy analysis of the analysts. Not all ex-pros are bad at being pundits, just as not all those who write about the sport for a living are good at it. Gary Neville has been a breath of fresh air on Sky whilst my personal favourite is Pat Nevin, until recently only used on Radio 5Live but now appearing on Match of the Day 2 occasionally.

Both of these use their years as footballers to offer what even the best writer or broadcaster can not; how a footballer sees events. The best analysis by those who have played the game always enlightens. It gives those of us not good enough to play the game at that level a little bit of insight into the ways that players see the game differently from fans.

As Kristan puts the issue very succinctly, “The problem is not with footballers as pundits … It’s those who believe their esoteric experience is enough to guide them through analysing any situation.”

In essence the problem that many have is I believe in the attitude of entitlement shown by many ex-pros. There seems to be a believe in football that once you have finished playing, you can move straight into the TV or Radio studio, when in fact that is a place that only those capable of fully formed, non-generalising opinions should tread.

And opinions is another issue that cause us on the podcast to get pretty irate. As Morgan says, “It isn’t just ex footballers, but analysts in general don’t seem to offer anything new a lot of times. It’s the same narratives regurgitated by pundits be they ex footballer or not. Maybe if we’re able to change the narrative we’ll start to see some better quality out of pundits.”

I am interested in what others think of this issue. Who are your favourite pundits and are any of them ex-pros in the media?

10 thoughts on “Who Are Your Favorite Pundits in the Premier League?”

  1. I find the color commentator in soccer to be useless. I like watching the Bundesliga on GOL TV where they only use one commentator on the English feed. Commentators like Tyler, Darke, Banyard, Champion, and Drury don’t need color guys as they can provide the color while calling the game themselves.

    My favorite studio pundit was Pat Dolan for Setanta by a country mile. If a guy or team played like crap Dolan would pull no punches and would tell the viewers that so and so just wasn’t good enough. It’s a shame that we haven’t heard from Pat for years since Setanta pulled out of the US cable/satellite business.

  2. Good point made above the color commentary of soccer does not do anything for the American audience. It’s lame frankly. ESPN has developed a much better show with Ian Darke and Macca that gives the US fan more of what they want.

    Now Americans who grew up on the NFL and super slow motion, replay review, and color commentary that will exhaust you are hard to please. We are having other discussions here about the US networks bringing in American talent as broadcasters but I think it helps the American audience.

    Now we can all enjoy Talksports and Sky Sports News whenever we want but frankly the EPL Talk podcast does as good of a job of commentary on the EPL even from this side of the pond.

  3. I don’t have an issue with any if the UK based commentators. The ex pro pundits are a mixed bunch but the better ones come across we’ll because they are PREPARED. Neville obviously does his homework. Contrast that with the useless Wynalda. I’m convinced that guy does nothing to prepare. He just shows up and says the first thing that comes into his head. He adds nothing and it shows. Barton is only slightly better. He frustrates even more because he should know better.

    Robbie Earle was a great pundit until he got sent to the wilderness, or is it the Portland Timbers.

  4. Martin Tyler is one of my favourites and I also find Trevor Francis to be quite good as a live analyst ( he is not everyone’s cup of tea). I wish Tyler and Francis would work together more. Ian Darke and Macca are my second favorite pair.

  5. My favorites are Champion, Tyler, Parry, Darke, Healey, and Drury. Best color commentators are McManaman, Earle, Alan Smith, Neville, McCoist and probably my favorite is Stewart Robson. HUGELY underrated one is Robbie Mustoe–deserves more credit and deserves a spot in Champions Lg ahead of Gus Johnson(who, although is great as a March Madness commentator, is unqualified to be thrown right in for such a big game).

    Eric Wynalda is rather arrogant and lazy in his analysis. As someone said earlier it seems like he does little research in his spare time and seems uninformed. Just wants to joke around the whole time.

  6. My favorite play by play person is Ian Darke, followed closely by Martin Tyler, Jon Champion and Steve Banyard. My favorite analysts are David Pleat and Trevor Francis. These two tell me things that aren’t obvious. I also like Steve McManaman and Gary Neville. The rest of the play by play announcers and analysts are just a bunch of generic voices that sound alike and don’tt offer anything. Can someone tell me how Efan Ekoku ever got such prominent status as an analyst? He seems to be on many of the best matches. He is awful! Craig Burley isn’t much better.

  7. i’ll separate between commentators and pundits:

    my fav commentators are, in no particular order, john motson, ian darke, jon champion, peter drury, steve banyard, martin tyler

    pundits/color commentators: stewart robson, gary neville, gab marcotti, robbie savage, david pleat

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