Robin Scott-Elliot: Goatee-free Neville is undisputed pundit of the month for Movember

View From The Sofa: Monday Night Football, Sky / Football Focus, BBC1

One thing Gary Neville has never done well is facial hair. There have been moments when he has sought to nurture some sort of mangled goatee but ends up resembling a character from a Graham Greene script, one of those petty, twisted crooks, full of spite and pent up hatred at the world. Which is pretty much how Liverpool fans see him.

In the modern game grooming is everything, and we are not talking the time the Football Association has devoted preparing Stuart Pearce to be something terribly important. The FA are well aware of its relevance (grooming that is, not Stuart Pearce) which is why there is an official England moisturiser (maybe there's the role for Pearce... "JT, get back here and rub that in properly"). In a couple of days the supplier of the England team's skin-care cream – no commercial stone can be left unturned – will be expecting bumper sales as all those beards and moustaches grown for Movember disappear down plugholes.

Neville, wisely, has stayed smooth and concentrated on mastering the buttons Sky make him fiddle with during his Monday night analysis. I like Neville as a pundit – he has settled much more into the role than former team-mate Roy Keane, who talks too quickly on ITV (and no doubt on any other channel) which means he swallows his words. Neville has a nice turn of phrase – see last Sunday's one-liner about David Luiz defending like a "10-year-old on a Playstation" – and is able to translate his obvious knowledge of the game to the viewer.

Neville's increasing ubiquity on Sky's best football is in part down to Andygrayisahorriblesexistgate, but they have a winner on their hands and they know it. Neville is how Alan Hansen once was. Meanwhile, the BBC persevere with Alan Shearer and consign better pundits to suffer Colin Murray on a Sunday night.

There is more hair on Match of the Day though. Gary Lineker has gone down the salt and pepper goatee route. Lineker knows how to groom, unlike Mark Lawrenson. Dear old Lawro becomes ever more world weary with each programme and his beard now lends him the air of an ageing thespian who has played his last Lear. On Saturday night Lawro described himself as looking like Dick van Dyke as he tried on Shearer's hat. Lineker suggested he would have a better cockney accent. Shearer, the man once described as football's Mary Poppins, said nothing.

Like Match of the Day, Football Focus has moved to Manchester and they have employed the same set designer/primary school class to create something yellow and horrible. Dan Walker, the presenter, has caught this column's eye in the past for his puppyish enthusiasm but he has calmed down. Perhaps Lawro has had him seen to. The well-scrubbed up Walker, not a wisp of hair on his happy face, has become a good presenter, if you don't get distracted by the busy hands, and a likeable one too, although like Lineker his script is clearly written by the BBC pun department/primary school class.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Neil Young performs on stage at Hyde Park
musicAnd his Hyde Park set has rhyme and reason, writes Nick Hasted
News
Women have been desperate to possess dimples like Cheryl Cole's
people Cole has secretly married French boyfriend Jean-Bernard Fernandez-Versini after just three months.
Arts and Entertainment
AKB48 perform during one of their daily concerts at Tokyo’s Akihabara theatre
musicJapan's AKB48 are one of the world’s most-successful pop acts
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
News
The headstone of jazz great Miles Davis at Woodlawn Cemetery in New York
news
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Extras
indybestThe tastiest creations for children’s parties this summer
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Paolo Nutini performs at T in the Park
music
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

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream as Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

Super Mario crushes the Messi dream

Germany win the 2014 World Cup in Brazil
Saharan remains may be evidence of the first race war, 13,000 years ago

The first race war, 13,000 years ago?

Saharan remains may be evidence of oldest large-scale armed conflict
Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Scientists find early warning system for Alzheimer’s

Researchers hope eye tests can spot ‘biomarkers’ of the disease
Sex, controversy and schoolgirl schtick

Meet Japan's AKB48

Pop, sex and schoolgirl schtick make for controversial success
In pictures: Breathtaking results of this weekend's 'supermoon'

Weekend's 'supermoon' in pictures

The moon appeared bigger and brighter at the weekend
Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor