Many years ago I used to like the analysis on Match of the Day. That could have been because I was young and naive but I like to think it was because it used to be good. Those days are long gone and nowadays I find it almost unwatchable. In fact most of the time I record it and fast forward through the gaps between highlights.
Alan Hansen is a perfect example of how it has deteriorated. Once intelligent, fresh and incisive, now he seems tired and bored. Hansen and Lawrenson seem to be just going through the motions. The studio banter grates, as do Linker’s terrible puns.
A low point for televised football was reached the other week when the studio guests were Alan Shearer and Martin Keown. Shearer is my least favourite pundit. A charisma free zone, he trots out banal observation after banal observation, cliche after cliche. Every time he is linked with a managerial post I pray to the footballing gods that he will get it, in order to spare us from any more of his “insights”. As for Keown, I am only marginally more keen on him now than when he was Arsenal’s hatchet man, and I’m a Spurs supporter.
The BBC used to be the gold standard but while they have slowly deteriorated the competition has improved. The excellent Gary Neville on Sky is a case in point. Even ITV are not so bad these days, with Keane and Southgate. Their Champions League highlights program even occasionally features the excellent Raphael Honigstein.
So what are the BBC to do? Well strangely I think they have a possible solution right under their noses. Move Gary Lineker from presenter to pundit. Compared to most footballers he’s bright and articulate. When I’ve seen him actually comment on football I’ve been impressed. He even appeared on Spanish TV during his time at Barcelona. In Spanish! Can you imagine Martin Keown pulling that one off?
As he sits there on MOTD asking the questions, nodding at another banal, obvious observation while he’s thinking up more bad puns, I can’t help thinking to myself, what a waste.