Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher certainly have been a major part of football punditry’s modern revolution but perhaps it is time for a new generation to have their voices heard, Sam Tonks says.
For over a decade, the iconic duo of the former Manchester United and Liverpool stars have graced our screens, leading the way for analysis on Premier League football’s biggest games on Sky Sports.
Monday Night Football has been the centrepiece of their success, gaining adoration and acclaim for their insight, tactical reviews and perhaps most of all the banter shared between the two. But increasingly, their fan-like commentary over their respective former clubs’ games has become tiresome.
This past weekend drew heavy criticism for the pair for their views on Arsenal’s post-match celebrations against Liverpool.
“It’s three points, you’ve won a game, just get down the tunnel,” Carragher said of Martin Odegaard’s decision to take a photographer’s camera and take pictures.
“I see an immaturity in their celebrations,” Neville also said.
Ian Wright went against his Stick To Football colleagues and it feels as though it could be the time for change when it comes to prime time punditry.
There is a view which has spread across football fandom over the last few years that if your club is of a certain stature, you can only celebrate so much before you’re labelled along the lines of “thinking you’ve won the league”.
However, when the cameras have been at the likes of Brentford, Sheffield United and Newcastle United, for example, they lap up the aftermath and bask in scenes of joy, as you should. So don’t lambast one group of players for it just because of who they play for.
There are plenty of former footballers making their way in the punditry game that aren’t given the platform like Neville and Carragher, and that arguably provide a more analytical and balanced overview on games every week.
Nedum Onouha and Shay Given are two examples of this. In their analysis of Arsenal’s 3-1 win, they studied Arsenal’s off-the-ball set up that stifled Liverpool and the unsung role of Kai Havertz in the game.
Daniel Sturridge has breathed new life into the Premier League coverage alongside Micah Richards and Alan Shearer and Joe Cole consistently show quality knowledge of the game.Embed from Getty Images
The danger for Carragher and Neville, in particular, is that they’ve gone beyond a comedic punditry duo that can also provide tactical insight to becoming influencer-like characters who are commentating more like fans.
Sky literally record Carra and Neville’s reactions during Liverpool vs Manchester United games, which again is entertaining but that’s the point.
If Carragher can revel in Jurgen Klopp’s various post-match rituals or even post-goal running on the pitch scenes, why can’t Arsenal lap up their victories? If Neville can run to Liverpool fans and kiss the United badge in 2004, after a game of less magnitude than Arsenal’s win over their title rivals, then Odegaard can take some pictures of a life-long Gooner in front of the North Bank.
Focus on the game, show the expertise that professional footballers can only offer, don’t give takes that we expect from Youtubers during watch-alongs.
There are plenty of voices analysing football and perhaps the time has come for some variety when it comes to punditry for the biggest Premier League games.