Here’s the performances of the pundits in the second round of home-nation matches:
England vs Wales, Thur June 16th, BBC, Score: 2-1 England
Pundits: Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand, Dean Saunders, John Hartson, Danny Murphy, Ian Rush
Persona: I dunno if Gary had a cold hidden under his perma-tan but he seemed a little jaded. Not his usual ‘Walker’s crisps advert’ self.
Appearance: All black, shirt and trousers, out to kill. Moss growing under the chin.
Analysis: Classic Lineker stat attack at half time ‘only two players have scored from two direct freekicks in the same tournament- Michel Platini for France in 84, and German midfielder Thomas Hassler in 92’- sick!
Hair Style: Silver fox.
Persona: Shearer took time to warm up (his brows were more horizontal than declined) but by half time he was on fire. Fury personified in a light blue shirt. Calmed down by the final whistle. Thank God England won.
Appearance: Sky blue shirt. Held in stark contrast to his face like thunder.
Analysis: Piled the pressure on England before the match. Scathing of Sterling and Kane at halftime. A brutal performance from a brutal pundit.
Hair Style: Still bald.
Persona: Reserved (I think he’s intimidated by Shearer). You just feel that if they let Rio do that bit more there’d be a rapper in him bursting to come out.
Appearance: Navy shirt- disappointment here in Rio. Thought he would have jazzed it up with a waistcoat, or a fedora(?) for the big game.
Analysis: Usual insight into being a pro-footballer. Little explanation about the added pressure of playing against club team mates was nice. Shamelessly stole ‘invariably’ from Kevin Kilbane (obviously desperate to win my ‘word of the tournament’ competition). Final word of advice to England- ‘let them play’, classic Rio line…
Hair Style: Fuzz ball carpet head.
Persona: Saunders was there to represent Wales and he did a sterling job. Exhibited good patriotism for his country whilst being respectful to England.
Appearance: White shirt black trousers- waiting after the match.
Analysis: Vardy’s goal- ‘the fox in the box’. Classic Saunder’s line…
Hair Style: Short back and sides. Probably trimmed off a macro-millimetre before going on air, just to tidy it up… No messing.
Persona: Hartson was a goliath on the pitch for Arsenal and Celtic, a personification of the Welsh dragon, but in the studio he seemed as mighty as a mouse. Reserved and mild of manner.
Appearance: In a shirt made of the same material as his pyjamas.
Analysis: Obvious analysis. What he said didn’t blow my mind.
Hair Style: Bald.
Persona: Danny was pitch side, probably because his personality’s too big to fit in the studio. He stood by the pitch with his eyes open and used his mouth to speak words…
Appearance: Blue shirt.
Analysis: I agreed with most of it. ‘I wanna see Sturridge 2nd half’. And he was right, Sturridge scored the winner. Kudos to Danny.
Hair Style: Skinhead.
*** Special mention to celebrity guest pundit Liverpool legend Ian Rush!
Appearance: I’ve been very disappointed with my ‘appearance section’- shirt shirt shirt shirt… (I thought footballers dressed like idiots!?) Well thank God for Ian Rush! Not so much an idiot, more a gangster out of Bugsy Malone– black suit, striped red shirt, and silk red tie (v snazzy!).
Ukraine vs Northern Ireland, Thurs June 16th, ITV, Score: 2:0 Northern Ireland
Pundits: Mark Pougatch, Lee Dixon, Norman Whiteside, Christian Karembeu
Persona: Wasn’t shouting as loud as in his first performance. Like Lineker seemed more relaxed. Only had to turn the volume on the telly down one notch instead of the customary three, when he spoke.
Appearance: Same shirt as Shearer (sky blue). Shearer must have handed it to him in the five-minute turnover between shows.
Analysis: It was an improvement from Pougatch after his dismal opening performance. His analysis seemed a little more in-depth and not so ‘simple/everyone I speak to’s an idiot’. He even used his arms to demonstrate some of his points at half time- very impressive.
Hairstyle: Bank manager.
Persona: Initially it felt like Dixon was intimidated by Whiteside potentially stealing his thunder. But like everyone on the planet he warmed to Whiteside’s friendly manner, becoming completely oblivious that Whiteside was indeed stealing his thunder.
Appearance: Grey shirt, black trousers.
Analysis: Typical Dixon- the tried and tested “let’s discuss ‘pressing’”. Loves it. Got a little testy about the penalty discussion at half time- if it’s not intentional it’s not a penalty, end of.
Hair Style: Deputy bank manager.
Persona: You could have been sitting in your house watching the former Manchester United striker speaking in a television studio, or you could have been sitting at the local in Kilkenny alongside Whiteside ordering another Guinness, there was no difference in his persona. Relaxed and jovial. Sheer and utter charismatic brilliance, which lifted the performances of all around him (apart from Pougatch).
Appearance: Awful shade of blue shirt. First short sleeves of the tournament!
Analysis: Great note he wrote down at half time- ‘Ukraine keeper had the ball in his hands after 3 minutes’. However there’s massive controversy in France over whether Whiteside actually wrote it, or a lowly TV assistant did it for him.
Hair Style: The bank manager’s boss.
Persona: The coolest cat amongst this gang of pundits. If the Euro and World Cup winning French defender wasn’t your pundit for Euro 2016 on ITV, he’d be killing you…
Appearance: If Lineker dresses like an assassin Karembeu dresses like an international arms dealer. Looked seriously mean in a blue shirt and over-sized black blazer.
Analysis: Intense. Forced Whiteside into physically acting out his argument about a potential penalty decision at halftime by just looking at him.
Hair Style: Dreadlocks.
Rating: 8/10 (mostly due to the dreads)
Belgium vs Rep. of Ireland, Sat June 18th, KO 2pm, ITV, Score: 3-0 Belgium
Pundits: Mark Pougatch, Emmanuel Petit, Richard Dunne, Ian Wright, Andy Townsend
Persona: With each game Pougatch seems to improve the pitch of his voice, slightly, but he doesn’t possess that X-Factor Lineker and other pundits have. Needs to do something special if he wants to really influence a punditry show.
Appearance: Awful coloured shirt- violet?
Analysis: Cued in the pundits and moved things along with half the panache of Lineker.
Hair Style: Bank Manager
Persona: Former France and Arsenal midfielder demonstrated the quintessential ‘pundit holding X-Factor’. Exudes almost as much cool as Wrighty, but there’s a slickness to Manu that many of the other pundits just don’t possess. Partnership with Wright could be explosive in the BBC/ITV coverage war.
Appearance: White shirt, black cardigan (brand? Don’t know but it had the coolest gold crest on the breast). The French aristocrat of centuries ago mixed in with modern day banlieue-chic. Awesome.
Analysis: Great awareness to identify that all three of Belgium’s goals came from the right side of the pitch! Actually…it was kinda obvious. But it doesn’t matter, with his style anything Manu says passes off as sheer genius.
Hair Style: ‘Mun’/ponytail/flowing locks- no one on the planet could pull off Manu’s do, other than Manu.
Persona: Former Man City defender was calm to the point of serene (listening to his Irish dulcet tones made me feel like I could fall into the deepest of sleeps and never wake up). Always looks like he’s on the verge of crying.
Appearance: Navy blue shirt (either Dunne is the greatest ironer in the world, or it was brand new).
Analysis: Dunne probably gave the best appraisal of Ireland’s performance, something about they didn’t press enough, or they didn’t mark their men, but it just didn’t matter, he was sitting in between two punditing colossus-es’es… in Petit and Wright.
Hair Style: Shaved heed.
Persona: Wright was relaxed with a capital W. When he was cued in to contribute, he contributed. When the questions were posed to someone else he sat back and still the attention was on him. Growing into these championships. If he keeps it up, he has real potential to be crowned ‘Harry’s Pundit of the Euros’.
Appearance: Wright looked hip in a blue v-neck sweater/white t-shirt combo. Still pulling off those Harry Potter style glasses with aplomb.
Analysis: If Wright uses the term ‘ridiculous’ when analysing a player’s contribution to the match it either means ‘ulti-most-est sickness!’, or it means ‘ulti-most-est sickness!’ In the case of McCarthy’s marking of Witsel for the second goal, sadly, it was the latter…
Hair Style: Bald
Pitchside reporting- Andy Townsend
Persona: Townsend’s an ever present, presence… of the Uefa Cup coverage on ITV4. His speciality isn’t so much in punditry as in commentating. Solid, dependable, although likes to state the obvious to fill in the time.
Appearance: Former Republic of Ireland midfielder looked like he’d been dragged off the streets. Donning a haggard grey beard and bags under the eyes, maybe it’d been a bad night at the tables of the famous Casino du Monaco.
Analysis: Honest appraisal of the strengths of Ireland against the strengths of Belgium (Ireland should get humped). And they did.
Hair Style: Short.