The shifting dynamics of football are equivalent to the shifting of the continental plates beneath our feet- subliminal yet monumental. The business of modern day sport has seen the audience’s attention move from the players, half a degree to the left to the managers, and now it moves half a degree left once more to the pundits.
International tournaments are watched by everyone (or nearly everyone, 1 in 4, 1 in 5?) But not everyone actually likes football. That’s when interests filter out to other aspects of the game- the referees, the fans, the managers, the stadia, the pundits.
Punditry has become an art in itself in the age of social media- now we have analysis on the analysis! Pundits are rated on their scrutiny over the game, their TV persona, their appearance, even their haircuts. So it seems only natural, almost valiant, that Vulture Hound, being the most accurate, most assertive, most pragmatic TV review site on the planet, guides its beloved readers through the murky world of football punditry.
Tabloid analysis of football player’s performances are done on the basis of an ‘out-of-ten’ rating system frequently swinging between 5 (really bad) to 8 (really good). Anything reported outside these parameters will most probably go down in football folk law. The aptitudes players are judged on include ‘pace’, ‘touches’, ‘tackles won’ and ‘passing accuracy’. Managers are judged on their tactics and leadership. Referees, the decisions they make during a game. But when you’re paid to sit on a chair on the TV watching what happens on another TV, at the same time as everyone else, then explain to them what happened straight after what happened…happened… it seems only right that we also judge the pundits on an ‘out of ten’ basis. Criteria will be ‘persona’, ‘appearance’, ‘analysis’ and, most importantly, ‘hairstyle’. And we’ll only be analysing the games that matter (home nation games).
With the reasons and the rules explained, let the games begin!
First Round Matches:
Wales vs Slovakia, Sat June 11th, KO 5pm, Score: 2-1 Wales
Pundits: Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand, Dean Saunders
Persona: The king of football punditry. Lineker has developed a smooth confident style that is relatable with audiences. He also gives a lot of support to pundits who are having a bad day.
Appearance: Jean fabric shirt, open collar, no tie, and for months now he still hasn’t spotted the moss growing under his chin and above his lips…
Analysis: Lineker knows his football and does his research. Had good background knowledge of Welsh football.
Hair Style: The silver fox, moulded back and to the side
Persona: Shearer’s taken on the Hansen mantle- critical, hard, unforgiving. When the corner of his lips droop and he purses his lips, you know you’re in trouble.
Appearance: Black shirt, no tie, big chunky wrist watch.
Analysis: Wales won and they played well. The Hansen impersonation was not needed. Shearer didn’t have much to criticise. Instead he drooped his lips, pursed his lips, and complimented the team…
Hair Style: Bald
Persona: To his credit Rio’s taken well to punditry. Most notable is his confidence. Rio’s not afraid to speak, even if he sometimes puts his foot in it.
Appearance: White shirt, open collar, but being an ex-‘modern day footballer’ everything Rio wears seems that little bit more ‘hip’ than those round him.
Analysis: What’s great about Rio is he wears his heart on his sleeve. He brings across emotion and references whatever’s being discussed to his own experiences (like the discussion of the goalkeeper’s positioning for Bale’s free kick). Insightful.
Hair Style: Fuzzy carpet.
Persona: Ex Liverpool and Aston Villa striker who represented Wales 75 times Saunders was confident, assured and passionate for the Welsh cause.
Appearance: Grey shirt black trousers.
Analysis: Offered good alternative to Wales original tactic of playing wide, explaining when the right time was to switch to playing through the middle.
Hair Style: Short back and sides- no messing.
England vs Russia, Sat June 11th, KO 8pm, Score: 1-1
Pundits: Mark Pougatch, Lee Dixon, Ian Wright, Peter Crouch, Glenn Hoddle
Persona: Loud. Pougatch didn’t speak. He shouted.
Appearance: Plain blue shirt.
Analysis: The obvious. A ‘general’ TV presenter for ITV using every cliché he could find in his very short book.
Hairstyle: Akin to a bank manager.
Persona: Dixon has developed a good balance of giving assured analysis with the ability to seamlessly switch to ‘banter with the boys’.
Appearance: Similar to Pougatch- shirt, no tie, open collar, colour so forgettable I can’t remember…
Analysis: Dixon gives accurate analysis in an accessible style. Didn’t like his disagreement with the term ‘game management’.
Hair Style: Akin to a bank manger’s assistant.
Persona: If Wrighty hadn’t been a footballer he would have been Banksy. Exudes cool. The Harry Potter style glasses give that added pinch of ‘the professor’.
Appearance: Black long-sleeve crew neck shirt, exuding even more cool.
Analysis: Positive. Wrighty did as much to protect the team as analyse the game (a much needed role within the state of British media).
Hair Style: Bald.
Persona: Crouch came across nervous. He stumbled through his sentences finishing them with an unbecoming sneer whilst going red in the face and quickly turning to one of his colleagues for much needed help.
Appearance: White shirt.
Analysis: Pougatch-style obviousness.
Hair Style: Blonde, slick back with a casual strand accidentally deliberately fallen out of place much like the rebels without a cause of the 50s and 60s.
Persona: The wheeling dealing drunken grandad of British football (very harsh comment made all because of his ‘Lan-dan’ accent.)
Appearance: Hoddle was in a short sleeve shirt, shiny and sweaty, he looked knackered. I felt for Hoddle- why do they decide to send the oldest of the pundits to do the ground work at the stadium, whilst the youngsters get the cushy office jobs?
Analysis: I’m sure it was very accurate, but he came across a little boring.
Hair Style: A mop on top which Hoddle blowdrys back into a wavy ‘Hugh Grant Four Weddings’ style.
Poland vs Northern Ireland, Sun June 12th, KO 5pm, Score: 1-0 Poland
Pundits: Gary Lineker, Rio Ferdinand, Neil Lennon, Jermaine Jenas
Persona: Lineker put a bit of emotion into this performance quickly switching from jubilation when he spoke of Northern Ireland’s entry into the tournament then turning to cautiousness when discussing the strengths of Poland with Rio. Seemed engaged and on form although waned a little at the end.
Appearance: Shiny blue shirt, black trousers, still hasn’t seen the moss under his chin…
Analysis: Known for his stat attacks. Lineker will pull a stat out of places you don’t even know you could take stats!- ‘Northern Ireland have only conceded one first half goal in their previous 20 games’…ridiculous.
Hair Style: Silver fox.
Persona: Rio’s coming out his shell. He adopts the same ‘hold fury in the face’ expression that Shearer does but showed there’s a warm fuzzy centre to the defensive goliath exemplified in the joke at the end of the match. ‘Midfielders are lazy like that!’. Classic Rio line…
Appearance: Rio was given Gary’s jean fabric shirt for this one. No tie. Buttoned to the top! (v.mod)
Analysis: ‘I see comfort’ another, classic Rio line… Insight into being a central defender in a three at the back was a bit confusing.
Hair Style: Carpet head.
Persona: Former Celtic midfield lynch man and newly appointed Hibs manager Lennon is a paradox. He came across as calm and assured but beneath the veneer of red hair and crystal green eyes is the same intensity he used to omit on the pitch.
Appearance: Neil sported a black cardigan to go with his blue shirt.
Analysis: Honest accurate analysis. The cream cheese in between the wholemeal sandwich of Rio and Jermaine. A very appetising early evening snack. Calm in anticipation, calm in battle, calm in defeat.
Hair Style: Red head carpet head.
Persona: Former Spurs midfielder Jenas (pronounced gee-nas) tries hard and almost pulls it off. But he is young- a sense of misplaced confidence about him.
Appearance: Jermain wore a navy chequered shirt with black trousers.
Analysis: Worked well with Rio and Neil and the kid came up with some of the best stuff (his little piece about ‘team psychology’ was smart and insightful). Still though, he’s just a kid…
Hair Style: Carpet head.
Rep of Ireland vs Sweden, Mon June 13th, KO 5pm, Score: 1-1
Pundits: Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Kevin Kilbane, Danny Murphy.
Persona: Ever the amicable host.
Appearance: All black, shirt and trousers. Probably had a contract to complete to assassinate someone after the match.
Analysis: It was like watching the pulling of teeth. Lineker was giving obvious starts for the pundits, starting their analysis’s for them, saying most of it, then swooping in to take the last word and keep the show rolling. Tough gig this game.
Hair Style: The silver fox.
Persona: Alan’s brow was heavily furrowed this match, even when he was complimenting Ireland for their efforts. Perhaps the recent behaviour of the England fans was weighing heavy on his shoulders. Perhaps the hotel had overcooked his eggs in the morning…
Appearance: If Lineker was going out to kill when the game finished Shearer was going to wait tables. White shirt black trousers.
Analysis: Even though he had the definitive say on the match ‘Ireland will feel they should have won this game’. Subdued performance. Let’s hope his eggs aren’t overcooked for the next match.
Hair Style: Still bald.
Persona: The hardest single piece of criteria to judge out of all the pundits of all the opening matches. I still don’t know what it is, or if he has one…
Appearance: Blue shirt, no tie, open collar.
Analysis: Kilbane was running the pundit show, giving most opinion on the game and took the initiative at half time in the side-competition for ‘my favourite word of the pundits of the tournament’ – ‘invariably.’
Hair Style: Short black, kinda Harry Potter in his first three years at Hogwarts, without the glasses and scar…
Persona: Danny comes across confident, and gives good analysis, in a monotone voice and faceless expression.
Appearance: Same blue shirt, no tie, open collar as Kilbane.
Analysis: Not his greatest day. A man of few words who merely repeated what his colleagues beside him had already said.
Hair Style: Skinhead.