Comment: Alan Hansen's many years on Match of the Day have been characterised by indifference and cruelty

The pundit is ending his time with the BBC after the World Cup

Alan Hansen is retiring. After 22 years of honourable service at the BBC, the tough-talking pundit and former Liverpool defender will end his career at Match of the Day in July, following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

But as tributes pour in for the terrier of defensive tactics, the perma-tanned, Harry Potter-scarred titan of tough talk – let me be the first to offer Hansen the very fondest of farewells.

Finally something football fans all over Britain can unite in celebrating. After a torrid summer in which Spurs spent in excess of £100m for a group of expensive nobodies (Étienne Capoue? Nacer Chadhli?), David Moyes at Manchester United bought almost no one except  - *gasp*  - Marouane Fellaini and Arsenal fans had to endure endless days of parsimony from tight-pursed old Arsene Wenger – this, now, is the most exciting transfer news of 2013.

Impossible to impress, quick to criticise and condemn - Hansen is the imperial sourpuss of Saturday and Sunday night television. Before a paycut in 2012, he earned a staggering £1.5m a year. And yet, despite the cash, Hansen’s many years as a pundit have been characterised by indifference and cruelty. 

Who can forget his brusque dismissal of Michael Owen and Jason Roberts’ goal scoring capabilities on Match of the Day 2? (A moment made more acutely painful by the comic moustache Owen was sporting at the time for “Movember”.) Or, looking further back, Hansen’s brutish insistence in 1995 that Manchester United would “never win anything with kids”. The kids in question were David Beckham, Paul Scholes, the Neville brothers and Nicky Butt, and Manchester United went on to win both the league and the FA Cup that season.

The rashness of Hansen’s prediction was forgivable. Less easy to stomach has been the cold-hearted manner and brute arrogance with which Hansen has approached his job for the past two decades. Even his words of resignation were couched in terms of rhetorical self-aggrandisement:

“I’ve been in football for 41 years and I’m going out right at the top, just as I did at Liverpool. The plan was always that I would retire at 55. I kept going, but I finally decided to retire during Euro 2012.”

Going on, Hansen outed himself as an outright apologist for the old school, showering praise on old statesman of football and vocal Ukip supporter Des Lynam, before moving on to compliment occasional misogynist Andy Gray.

“Des was the best, and is the best, because he was just an unbelievable presenter.” Hansen said, adding: “I always felt Andy Gray was great on Sky, he was a fantastic pundit.”

Let us not get too misty-eyed about these supposed all-time greats. Football has a duty to address, and redress, it’s historically macho image. I’m not saying any of these pundits are to blame for the homophobia faced by players from Justin Fashanu through to Robbie Rogers, but the BBC and other networks should feel a duty to supply their audiences with pundits who aren’t simply models of football’s school locker room status quo – that is, hard men talking hard talk.

That is why the BBC’s brief appointment of both Adrian Chiles and Colin Murray was such a welcome and refreshing change. What became of these modern, macho-less men? With viewing figures of around four to five million every week, Match of the Day remains the most watched football programme in the country. In response, the BBC should ensure their flagship show does not remain in an ancestral era of old school - frequently outdated - footballing values.

Sport
Alexis Sanchez has completed a £35m move to Arsenal, the club have confirmed
sportGunners complete £35m signing of Barcelona forward
Voices
Poor teachers should be fearful of not getting pay rises or losing their job if they fail to perform, Steve Fairclough, headteacher of Abbotsholme School, suggested
voicesChris Sloggett explains why it has become an impossible career path
Sport
world cup 2014
Sport
Ray Whelan was arrested earlier this week
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
In a minor key: Keira Knightley in the lightweight 'Begin Again'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Celebrated children’s author Allan Ahlberg, best known for Each Peach Pear Plum
books
News
peopleIndian actress known as the 'Grand Old Lady of Bollywood' was 102
News
Wayne’s estate faces a claim for alleged copyright breaches
newsJohn Wayne's heirs duke it out with university over use of the late film star's nickname
Life and Style
It beggars belief: the homeless and hungry are weary, tortured, ghosts of people – with bodies contorted by imperceptible pain
lifeRough sleepers exist in every city. Hear the stories of those whose luck has run out
News
Mick Jagger performing at Glastonbury
people
Life and Style
fashionJ Crew introduces triple zero size to meet the Asia market demand
Sport
Santi Cazorla, Mikel Arteta and Mathieu Flamini of Arsenal launch the new Puma Arsenal kits at the Puma Store on Carnaby Street
sportMassive deal worth £150m over the next five years
Arts and Entertainment
Welsh opera singer Katherine Jenkins
musicHolyrood MPs 'staggered' at lack of Scottish artists performing
Life and Style
beautyBelgian fan lands L'Oreal campaign after being spotted at World Cup
Arts and Entertainment
Currently there is nothing to prevent all-male or all-female couples from competing against mixed sex partners at any of the country’s ballroom dancing events
Potential ban on same-sex partners in ballroom dancing competitions amounts to 'illegal discrimination'
News
business
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice