With the emergence of broadcasting giant BT Sport as a major competitor to Sky Television in the UK and the growth of the worldwide popularity of the English Premier League as a whole, an ever-increasing number of retired footballers are moving into the world of television, radio and print as football pundits.
Many ex players of course still do move into coaching but the job insecurity in such a job and the limited opportunities of a role in management or coaching puts many off.
Football is now broadcast on many channels available on satellite or digital platforms seven days a week and this has opened the door to many opportunities for ex professional players to enter the world of football punditry.
In our latest post we pick our dream team of former Premier League players who have turned into football pundits:
GK – David James – Signed up by BT Sports not long after his playing career had finished, “Jaymo” has been in and out of their pundit line up after he made a return to playing in the Indian Premier League.
One of the few goalkeeping pundits, the articulate James can offer a unique perspective as a contrast from the insights of the outfield players he works with.
The 6 ft 4″ James casts an imposing figure alongside 6ft 5″ anchor man Jake Humphrey especially when they are pitch side with Michael Owen who only stands at 5 ft 7″.
Full Backs – Gary Neville & Jamie Carragher – Sky Sports’ decision to put ex Manchester United captain Gary Neville and ex Liverpool captain Jamie Carragher together for their Monday Night Football show was a stroke of genius.
Between them they have transformed the show from a run of the mill analysis programme to a meticulously researched, intensely passionate affair which is sometimes more entertaining than the actual game they are analysing.
Both Neville and Carragher have managed to bring their passion from their playing days into their punditry and have proved to be extremely knowledgeable, refreshingly honest and surprisingly unbiased.
CB – Rio Ferdinand – Having made a successful punditry debut for the BBC during the 2014 World Cup, Ferdinand was snapped up by BT Sport for the start of the 2015-16 Premier League season.
A natural in front of the camera with an air of calmness around him, Ferdinand only involves himself in a discussion if he’s got something insightful and interesting to say.
CB – Martin Keown – A no-nonsense player Keown has brought the same attitude to his media career with the BBC.
Keown doesn’t beat around the bush and tells it how it is in a manner which is articulate but with an aggressive edge.
He knows his limits and is the main guy an anchorman will turn to when they want an in-depth defensive analysis of a team’s performance.
RM – Steve McManaman – McManaman has been working in the media for a few years now and has perfected his craft with a style which tends to be in-depth but not boring.
McManaman is not only well spoken, well presented and of course very knowledgeable, he never comes across as taking it too seriously and provides a refreshing contrast to some of the more serious pundits like Paul Scholes.
CM – Roy Keane – There is no way you could pick an eleven without including Manchester United’s former captain.
Incredibly intense, Keane has a menacing edge about him when he provides his punditry which keeps the viewer glued to the screen to see if he blows his top.
Never one to go into too much tactical depth, Keane is one of the few football pundits who likes to focus on a team’s overall work rate and attitude when analysing a game.
CM – Paul Scholes – Many were surprised when Scholes started television work as he never seemed comfortable in front of the camera during post match interviews as a player.
Scholes appears across most of the main broadcasting networks who seem to like his straight talking style providing a harsh but fair analysis on the games which he is covering.
LM – Chris Waddle – Although more of a co-commentator than
a football pundit, Waddle does his job very well but loves to go on a rant now and again, especially about the England national team.
After England’s exit from the 2014 World Cup, Waddle made an astonishing outburst on air saying that “we never ever learn” and that the team should be made up of players who aren’t necessarily the so-called star players but ones that can form a balanced side that are able to get you a result.
Many in the game felt that his opinion was spot on and for that alone he gets into this starting eleven.
ST – Alan Shearer – Admitted that he struggled when he started his career as a BBC pundit as he found it uncomfortable analysing players that he personally knew.
However, after a shaky start Shearer is now one of the leading football pundits on BBC’s Match of the Day programme and forms a great partnership with MOTD legend Gary Lineker.
ST – Thierry Henry – A star of the BBC’s 2014 World Cup coverage, Henry was signed up by Sky immediately after he announced that his playing career was over.
Always immaculately dressed and super suave, Henry has brought a whole new audience to the channel’s live coverage with his laid back attitude and smooth Gallic tones.