'I wish we had Gary Neville on Match of the Day', admits Gary Lineker as he defends the BBC's flagship football show

Lineker claims that analysts on the highlight show cannot fit in the same detailed analysis as Sky into their limited coverage

Gary Lineker has admitted that he would like to see former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville working on Match of the Day after impressing in his time with Sky Sports working as a football analyst and co-commentator.

The BBC’s flagship football show has come in for criticism in recent years for not delving into expert analysis as much as its full coverage rivals, as well as pundits such as Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson coming under-fire in the past as well as the shows presenter Lineker.

But the former England striker has defended the show, claiming they do the best job that they can, given the minimal time they are allotted to scrutinise each game, whereas Sky Sports can delve much further into the breakdown of how the game is played.

Speaking in an interview with The Guardian, Lineker said: “You cannot get involved in debate on MOTD. You can do it on Sky because they've got hours and hours.

“We've got a couple of minutes. It's a very disciplined show. Our primary purpose is to show the action and the analysis is very secondary. We have lots of people who would prefer no analysis. We have lots of people who would prefer more analysis. We have to find a balance.

“We simply can't do that (in-depth analysis) when we've just got three minutes 30 seconds to discuss the first match – and we're limited by the contract as to the amount we can show."

He spoke of how Neville’s detailed punditry has revitalised the role and provided a freshness into how plays are broken down. Lineker commented on how Neville spent eight minutes picking apart a single corner.

“He's very good,” praised Lineker. “The only difficult thing for him is that when it comes to analysing England players he's involved with them as [an assistant] coach. There have already been a couple of occasions when he's avoided it. But he's very good – and, well, I wish we'd had him on MOTD."

Lineker also spoke on how the show, which he has presented since 1999 (except a brief three-year hiatus when ITV took over the rights) has developed over the years, and will continue to develop in the future.

"We have meetings all the time where we're looking at ways of finding a different method,” admitted Lineker. “But it's forgotten how we made a fundamental change 10 years ago. Prior to 2003, you'd see two main games and then four minutes of another game and then after that just the other goals on MOTD or ITV's version. When we got the [rights] contract back I went to the powers-that-be and said: 'Is there a way we can show highlights of every game?' They backed it. It was a brave, bold, very expensive decision.

"But we're bucking the trends on highlight shows for sport – audiences are down everywhere and, considering the excessive football on TV, it's remarkable we generally hit between six-to-seven million every weekend."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific