Dear Alan, these are the new names for you to crib up on

The Match of the Day Debate

With his comment, last weekend, that "no one really knows a great deal" about Hatem Ben Arfa, the French international who scored for Newcastle United last week, Alan Shearer released a wave of criticism which cannot wholly be explained by the desire of rival media organisations to bash the BBC.

Match of the Day has been a curate's egg this season. The revamped title sequence is possibly the best thing on TV after Mad Men. That is when the show is played frame-by-frame. But too often, when the analysis comes on, fast-forward may as well be used.

Being an effective pundit is a difficult art. MotD's audience is a wildly disparate one. Some have just come in from the pub, some are children. While some appreciate incisive tactical analysis others just want goalmouth action. What may be "bleeding obvious" to one viewer can be informative to another.

However, in the last few years the level of tactical debate has increased in the English game with newspapers and rival broadcasters committing resources to it. Viewers have become more sophisticated tactically. They have the right to expect "experts" to have done their research, to be entertaining and informative. The pundit should be telling the viewer something they did not appreciate with their own eyes.

To my mind David Pleat, Jimmy Armfield and Graham Taylor are the best at this of the regular pundits. Each now operates largely on radio where, incidentally, Mark Lawrenson's relaxed style is best appreciated. Lee Dixon has been a breath of fresh air to MotD and Gordon Strachan's return to management was a loss to punditry.

As a rule, ex-managers are better, which is hardly surprising as they have studied tactics for a living. Shearer is good on assessing the ability of a striker, and what he needs from team-mates, but when it comes to areas outside his own playing experience he is no more relevant than the bloke in the pub.

Punditry is like management. Past playing success confers instant respect, but that soon dissipates if it is not matched by performance in the new job.

Shearer’s cut-out-and-keep guide

David Silva (Manchester City)

Typical modern Spanish player, quick-footed and a neat passer. Can play on either wing, in midfield or off the front man, but struggling to nail down a place at Manchester City. Signed from Valencia's but not to be confused with their other David, Villa. He's the goalscorer who's now at Barcelona. Born in Gran Canaria.

Ramires (Chelsea)

Brazilian midfielder but avoid references to 'jogo bonito', 'beautiful game', etc, as he is more like David Batty (albeit a very athletic version) than Kaka having modelled himself on Patrick Vieira. Signed from Benfica for £17m.

Pablo Barrera (West Ham United)

Fleet-footed Mexican winger capable of playing on either flank. Tends to produce his best form from the bench, when opponents tire, which is how Mexico utilised him in the World Cup. This is his first club outside Mexico.

Asamoah Gyan (Sunderland)

You must remember him? Missed the last-minute penalty for Ghana in the World Cup quarter-final, then scored in the shoot-out. Generally played his best football for Ghana, also shining at the African Cup of Nations. Less impressive at club level, so his signing is a gamble at £13m. Excellent front-runner.

Raul Meireles (Liverpool)

Played in the hole at Old Trafford but don't be misled, he is a box-to-box midfielder capable of filling the holding role. Plays for Portugal (where you play golf) and signed from Porto for £11m. Good passing range and a decent shot.

Antolin Alcaraz (Wigan Athletic)

Paraguay has forged a reputation for producing central defenders and Alcaraz, a late developer, is adding to that. Quick and strong with leadership qualities. A threat at set-pieces, as Italy discovered in the World Cup.

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