And it's over to you...

ITV pundits 19; BBC pundits 98
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
MANAGER: Brian Moore

Ron Atkinson

To borrow Tommy Docherty's description of himself, Atkinson has had more clubs than Jack Nicklaus. Currently "between jobs", he's still fondly remembered for expressing astonishment that the notorious German diver Jurgen Klinsmann didn't fall over when an opponent shook his hand at the end of a game. Big fun from Big Ron.

John Barnes

The Newcastle player beats Venison to the Title of Worst Dressed Pundit. Sunglasses may be required for some of Barnes's jackets. The scorer of one of the most celebrated England goals ever (against Brazil in 1984), he never quite shows the same daring in the studio. Flamboyance guaranteed - if only from his wardrobe.

Bobby Robson

ITV are certainly leading the field in the number of former England managers on their books. Robson, who went from villain to hero during England's near-triumphant progress through Italia 90, has the gnarled look of a seen-it-all-before pro, but somehow maintains a boyish enthusiasm for the game. Will run and run all day for the cause.

Alex Ferguson Known for his whole-hearted management style - which has brought him cupboard-loads of trophies - Fergie certainly doesn't lack passion for the game. He's not the world's most compelling analyst, however. That all may change, of course, if his native Scotland start to do well.

Bob Wilson ITV's anchorman is never going to set pulses racing. As he did as Arsenal's goal-keeper, he gets the job done without being showy - although he may find it hard to conceal his emotions when discussing England's keeper, David Seaman, whom he coaches. May have problems shaking off the "boring Arsenal" tag.

Glenn Hoddle

This is the one pundit all England fans don't want to see much of at this World Cup - because the earlier his team go out, the more Hoddle will be analysing for ITV. Given his position, Hoddle does not find it easy to say what he thinks when he is in the studio. Sophisticated architect, too often constrained by officialdom.

Kevin Keegan When managing Newcastle United, Keegan had a famous spat with co-pundit Alex Ferguson. Will they be on a lot of ITV panels together? The current Fulham boss is a man whose skills as player and analyst exactly match. Great engines, unrivalled commitment, phenomenal work-rate, moderate inspiration.

Terry Venables

Will he ruefully be wondering if he could have been leading England to this World Cup rather than Glenn Hoddle - if it hadn't been for certain extra-curricular matters? The boss of England during their successful run at Euro 96 is the very model of a modern manager: astute, streetwise and highly media-friendly.

Ruud Gullit

The subject of a big-money transfer from the BBC, Gullit is no doubt seen as ITV's trump-card (or "dreadlocked diamond", depending on which cliche you care to choose). A libero with a licence to roam - often on to the wilder shores of the English language, as viewers of his FA Cup performance last month can confirm. Oozes class.

Barry Venison

The former Newcastle and England defender had a neat ruse for grabbing attention when he first became a pundit: he simply wore jackets of such deafening loudness that people had to take notice of him. He's calmed the act down now - almost to the point of tedium. Workmanlike terrier.

Ian St John

Thankfully unshackled from the tiresome Greavsie, the Saint can, at last, try to get away from the caricature (developed by Skinner and Baddiel) of a helplessly laughing stooge. Long-serving, amiable midfield dynamo who may benefit from having been released from man-to-man marking by his erstwhile team-mate.

WILD CARD?

Paul Gascoigne

Sensationally discarded from the England squad last weekend, Gazza has suddenly become the hottest property in the punditry market. Whichever side manages to nab him, the volatile midfielder will come with more health warnings than a packet of fags.

Chris Waddle

The former England winger made some dodgy decisions as a player. Who can forget that Michael Bolton-esque haircut, or "Diamond Lights", the record he made with Glenn Hoddle? But a sense of humour in the studio redeems this one-time sausage-factory worker. Likely to impress more as a pundit than he did as a pop star.

David Pleat

A dashing performer for Nottingham Forest in his time, Pleat has shown less verve in the commentary box. As an analyst, the director of football at Tottenham Hotspur is more of a solid tryer than a player with flair. Reliable, committed, though unlikely to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

Ally McCoist

Even the deadening format of Question of Sport hasn't dimmed the Rangers striker's spark. Although many Scotland fans will be disappointed that he is appearing on a BBC panel rather than on the playing-fields of France, he should ignite the studio with a much-needed flame of humour. Sharp on the pitch; even sharper off it.

Alan Hansen

The top pundit, bar none. As stylish and forthright in the TV studio as he ever was on the pitch (where he earned the quite justifiable sobriquet of "Elegant Alan"). The former Liverpool and Scotland centre back has now turned his constant moaning about "terrible defending" into a lucrative sideline in a TV ad. Hard to beat.

Gary Lineker

The one-time golden boy of English football was responsible for a "JFK moment" (everyone can remember where they were at the time) when he scored against Germany in the semi-final at Italia 90. He has never caused such a quickening of the pulse as a presenter - though those crisp adverts have revealed a welcome funny side to the man.

Trevor Brooking

The cultured midfielder, who was so revered down West Ham way that they named a street after him, has never sparkled so conspicuously in the commentary-box. The holder of 47 England caps, Brooking is the John Major of punditry: nice, safe, a little dull, and won't frighten the horses of middle England with anything too unorthodox.

Jimmy Hill

Having seen commentating action as long ago as 1970, Hill is there for his experience and unfailing ability to rile opponents. In Arthur Smith's recent film, My Summer with Des, the Neil Morrissey character thought of Hill whenever he wanted to prolong love-making. A cult figure, long the butt of fans' humour.

Garth Crooks

Another one who left his sense of excitement in the dressing-room. An inventive striker with Spurs, Crooks is much more of a journeyman as a reporter. As a former chairman of the Professional Footballers Association, he commands great respect within the game - but that does not a thrilling commentator make. Honest toiler.

Mark Lawrenson

Renewing his successful 1980s Liverpool defensive partnership with Hansen, Lawrenson has made great strides this season (his regrettable hairdo aside). Not afraid to take the mickey, the ex-Republic of Ireland international speaks as he finds - not something you can say about every former player- turned-pundit.

David Ginola

Every World Cup reveals a new star - on the pundits panel as much as on the pitch - and the smart money this time is on Spurs's glamorous French winger. With the looks of a male model, Ginola is able to pull in even the most casual of viewers - TV football-producer speak for women - as well as fans of hair-care products.

Martin O'Neill

Tipped by his manager, Des Lynam, as a star in the making, this former Northern Ireland international doesn't seem bothered about speaking his mind in his capacity as manager of Leicester City. If he is even half as excitable in the studio as he is in the dug-out, we're in for a treat. Just don't ask him about Alan Shearer's footwork.

Comments