Very much so: a couch potato's guide to football punditry

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The Independent Online

DESMOND LYNAM (BBC) Unflappable, unmistakable, inimitable (though a number try). The only truly world-class performer at work in the British game. Also the only man who can wear a pistachio-green sports coat with any authority.

MATTHEW LORENZO (ITV) Stumbling and inconsequential, his World Cup campaign was matched only by the Greeks. His wardrobe would have shamed Mexican goalkeepers.

BOB WILSON (ITV) As in his career as Arsenal goalkeeper, his hands are not quite as safe as they might be: words occasionally undo him as mis- kicks used to.

STEVE RIDER (BBC) Junior Lynam, so far only attaining the unflappable part of the Des trilogy of talents.

RICHARD KEYS (Sky) Has yet to describe a game he is attending as average, let alone poor, but likeable and knowledgable. Hairy.


TERRY VENABLES (ITV) Tactically miles ahead, has an ability to communicate his knowledge quickly and incisively: the diametric opposite of Graham Taylor. Good range of jackets, and you can almost smell the after-shave.

JIMMY HILL (BBC) Though still fearlessly prepared to attack sacred cows, is an increasingly goggle-eyed and eccentric performer. Watching the staged spats with his old sparring partner Venables, it seemed that his opponent's irritation was not contrived.

ANDY GRAY (Sky) Whole-hearted all-rounder for the big-spending new team. Energetic in the boot room, swift with a chess piece, his outburts lose only some of their impact when they are utterly incomprehensible.

GARY LINEKER (Good question) Good teeth, saucy twinkle in the eyes, housewives' favourite. His comment about preferring to watch Ceefax rather than Wimbledon suggests he might have recognised that nice guys don't make good television.

DENIS LAW (ITV, and BBC radio) If punditry were merely a matter of repeating the question, would have the art stitched up. Worth his place, however, for the facial expressions which suggest he has prepared for his appearance by sucking lemons.

RAY WILKINS (ITV) Possesses a voice much favoured by the ad men, but his heavy dependence on the words 'exceptional' and 'absolutely' render his contributions about as incisive, constructive and illuminating as one of his square passes.

ALAN HANSEN (BBC) The king. Cool and decisive, he attacks with speed and acidity without fear or favour. Liverpool's defence quaked every time he got the telestrater out last season.

RON ATKINSON (ITV) Expansive, chummy, but more glitter than substance. Very much so.

KEVIN KEEGAN (ITV) The players' pundit, at least in the sense that players can do no wrong. Highlight of a myopic World Cup was when he was the only person on the planet who thought Leonardo should have stayed on.

TREVOR BROOKING (BBC) Illegal alien from the Planet Bland; has made the art of equivocation, possibly, perhaps, in many ways, his own.

IAN ST JOHN (ITV) Messed around by the management, who have never been sure whether his role is solid anchorman or incisive pundit. Talks at length while saying very little. Should have been a politician.

JIMMY GREAVES (ITV) Sensational in his early years, a combination of cheek and charm endearing him to punters. Lost his way, but signs of renaissance recently.