It’s tempting to suggest that the standard of punditry in the UK has plummeted in recent years, a claim that is strengthened every time Jamie Redknapp opens his mouth.

Only then we think back and acknowledge that once upon a time the BBC routinely gave Garth Crooks lots of air-time, believing him to be erudite because he. Spoke. Really. Really. Slowly. And. Carefully.

We remember too Mark Lawrenson phoning in performative displays of apathy in between rounds of golf.

Going further back there was Jimmy Hill. According to Tears For Fears, everybody wants to rule the world. Hill actually thought he did. 

Yet still, it’s hard to shake a lingering suspicion that as far as punditry goes, we’ve never had it so bad, with lazy opinions the norm and genuine insight in scant supply.

Cliches meanwhile abound as across the platforms the same faces appear, an old boy’s network of former players on a cushy number and entirely reliant on being spoon-fed stats in lieu of doing their own research. 

Frankly, you would get ludicrously long betting odds on any of these banter-merchants saying anything interesting or illuminating and if certain individuals did, we’d collectively fall off our sofas. 

Perhaps though, as stated, we’ve always been short-changed in this regard? It’s just that now there are more of them to annoy us.
Wherever the truth lies, our dislike of this terrible trio is timeless. 

3) Michael Owen 

Uttering banalities with a voice that could send a hyperactive toddler to sleep, Owen’s main contribution to broadcasting has been a slew of foot-in-mouth moments.

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‘That’s completely unstoppable but the keeper has got to do better for me.’ That was one of his, along with the profoundly silly, ‘Footballers these days often have to use their feet.’

Such clangers would be endearing from anyone else – think of Sir Bobby Robson’s regular habit of calling his players by the wrong name – but from Owen merely induces scoffing and a scowl from the viewership, because they are not balanced out elsewhere by perceptive points of view.

Rather there is a vacuum filled with meaningless words from a man who once won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award despite not possessing one. 

2) Danny Murphy  

Any best-of or worst-of list is of course wholly subjective. One man’s Ferrari is another man’s banger. 

Yet on rare occasions it is possible to make a sweeping judgement, one that very likely applies to all of humankind; one that even the football betting markets wouldn’t touch, because it’s such a cert.  

So here goes.

There is not one single person among Match of the Day’s 11 million-strong audience – bar maybe Murphy’s family and friends though even that is up for discussion – who is happy to see that he’s on that week. Not one single person. 

1) Steve McManaman 

‘Macca’ makes it a clean sweep of former Liverpool players, but with the other two their club allegiance is pretty much irrelevant. 

That is absolutely not the case here, with a clear bias towards his ex-employer one of the key ingredients that makes his punditry and commentaries such a toil.

In his company 90 minutes feels like an eternity, more so an eternity spent in a version of hell that sees you placed within earshot of the most annoying pub-bore who has ever existed.  

The only time that McManaman shuts up is on an inhale, and even those blessed fragments of silence are ruined because we know what’s coming.


FIRST PUBLISHED: 7th February 2023

Stephen Tudor is a freelance football writer and sports enthusiast who only knows slightly less about the beautiful game than you do.

A contributor to FourFourTwo and Forbes, he is a Manchester City fan who was taken to Maine Road as a child because his grandad predicted they would one day be good.