Matt Butler: BBC must freshen things up on Match of the Day post-Alan Hansen

View From the Sofa

It would be churlish to say at long last, Alan Hansen could be leaving. It may be a bit below the belt to say we will no longer have to shout "I know that, tell me something new" at the television every time he trots out his "diabolical, schoolboy defending, where's the technical ability?" line, as if it is the holy grail of football coaching.

To say everything that has been lacking about Hansen's punditry would not only take up too much time and space, it would also be akin to saying the solos of Jeff Hanneman, the guitarist from Slayer who died last week, were a bit noisy. It is not only mean-spirited, but also stating the bleeding obvious – much like Hansen has done over the last 20 years or so. It is far more constructive to look forward.

But before we do, one important aspect of Hansen's punditry – and that of Match of the Day in general – must be considered. Since Sky employed Gary Neville and ITV managed to corral Roy Keane into a studio without the aid of a muzzle, television punditry has moved on. Three grumpy old men who cover up their lack of homework with faux-authoritative bluster don't cut it any more. We want a little bit of an edge. Not Colin Murray edgy, but, by the same token, no cardigan-wearing, smugness.

The BBC should regard Hansen's impending waltz into the sunset as an opportunity to freshen things up. It should listen to the public and do us a service. This is its best chance of revamping the line-up, because it avoids the embarrassment of having to say, "Look, you're past it".

Hansen has been the kingpin of the trio including Mark Lawrenson and Alan Shearer, so now is the time for a new leader. Out of the current crop, Lawrenson might be able to do a job, but what would be even better would be to get someone from the outside. Someone who has had a successful career, who is erudite enough to express an opinion and sharp enough to tell us something new. Coincidentally, by the end of the 2014 World Cup, when Hansen's contract expires, Steven Gerrard may have retired. BBC, you know what you must do.

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