A short snippet of why Gary Neville is now the most popular pundit on our screens
Admit it, when Gary Neville was appointed as a pundit for Sky Sports last year, the thought of his whiney Mancunian voice sent shivers down your spine. As if it wasn’t bad enough that we had to endure the opinions of meat-head Andy Gray being forced upon us, we would now be listening to a bias catfish drivelling on about his love for Manchester United.
How wrong we were.
I decided to give Neville a chance, after all, his 602 games for Manchester United and his 85 caps for the England senior team is something you simply have to applaud, and I was quickly rewarded with some of the most detailed analysis I have ever heard, from the man who I now regard as the best football pundit on TV.
Neville’s pure excitement for the game is something that cannot be matched by many and his experience even less so. The feeling I get from listening to Gary Neville, is that he is desperate to share his knowledge to anyone that will listen, and his enthusiasm provides an incomparable insight into every aspect of football. It is almost like he is pleading with you to share his overwhelming passion for the sport, and in return he will feed you with interesting nuggets of information, whilst absorbing your attention with his northern wit.
Compare that to the likes of Alan Hansen, who is more than happy to recline on his chair at the BBC with his chest hair poking out of his tartan shirt, tediously boring you to death with stories about himself, before inevitably slating every defending decision that has been made that weekend.
Another factor Neville has on his side is that the former right-back is freshly retired from his playing career and is still currently involved in coaching at the highest level, in contrast to other TV pundits like Alan Shearer and Mark Lawrenson (yawn) who have been out of the game so long that they think ‘the false number 9’ is a nickname for Emile Heskey. Neville knows the ins-and-outs of the current game, which perhaps equates to his words carrying more weight than those of others, some of which have fluked a career just by trying to be controversial, I’m sure of it.
Neville’s familiarity with the way managers and coaches exploit teams with different formations and tactics give him legs to stand on when he expresses his in-depth views on how different systems work for different games, how different players can be more effective in certain fixtures and how the structure to the team is everything when it comes to winning games.
Professionalism, dedication and his work-ethic were just 3 key attributes Neville was known for during his days at United, and he has so far carried on with this in his current role. When Gary Neville tells you something, you take it on board. You know by the way he beams his exuberance of wisdom onto you, that he has fully done his research and has the facts to support his statements, again, something that not all TV faces do. *cough* Paul Merson *cough*
However you viewed Gary Neville throughout his playing days, his unbiased attitude and his excitement for the game lofts him above any other pundit that occupies our screens.