A War on Pointless Punditry.

Former Arsenal defender and now pundit (though I use the word loosely) Martin Keown, says Liverpool turned in their worst performance of the season so far in Monday night’s 0-0 draw at home to Manchester United.

I would argue that it was in fact Martin Keown that turned in the worst punditry performance of the season following Red Monday. His analysis reeked of someone who merely reacted to the score-line, rather than drawing any insightful conclusions.

We’ve seen this before on Thoughtful Football. There were a significant number of pundits who said nothing about Roy Hodgson’s approach until they were knocked out by Iceland. This is what we call Captain Hindsight Syndrome.

Would Mr Keown be making such bold statements had De Gea not used his ‘Go Go Gadget’ extendable arms to prevent a Liverpool victory? Keown’s praise of Jose Mourinho highlights his inadequacy as a pundit, and the BBC’s failure to put on an insightful football show:

‘Mourinho is back. That was his team, his DNA all over that performance, the way they started the game, they didn’t want to pass from the back, they were playing balls long, they denied Liverpool that energy to win it back.

It was a controlled performance, like you would have seen in his great days at Chelsea. Unlike the Manchester City game when he gave his team their head, this was him in charge.

There was a real structure to his team, with the youngsters out wide. I think he’ll be very pleased with it.’

Would Keown’s comments still be valid had Liverpool scored, which they certainly looked much more likely than United to do? I would go as far as to ask whether Keown actually watched the same match as I did, taking account of his ‘youngsters out wide’ comment.

Excluding Marcus Rashford, United’s full backs and wingers’ combined average age was over 29. Include him and it sits at 26.5. Maybe he was confused by Ashley Young’s second name. He is 31 Martin. To be fair Rooney replaced him late on, and Wayne isn’t 31 until October 24th.

Ignoring his factually incorrect comment, perhaps Keown represents an era of British football that has culminated in the English football team being left far behind by many of their former equals.

A pundit who thinks that self proclaimed ‘title challengers’ playing long balls to an isolated and immobile centre forward, having just 35% possession and grinding out a 0-0 draw through a combination of heroic goalkeeping, luck and their opposition forwards’ bad day at the office is not a pundit I have the time nor patience to listen to.

This is a declaration of war on pointless punditry. A war against pundits who at their best embody South Park’s captain hindsight, and at their worst resemble something closer to Brick from Anchorman (see our analysis of Alan Shearer’s lack of analysis on MOTD for more information).

The war on drugs failed because it was a war on the most vulnerable people in our society. The war or terror is failing because it is an attack on an ideology that thrives on conflict. But I believe that the War on Pointless Punditry can succeed, because the popularity of MNF proves that if you treat football fans like adults they will enjoy it.

I’ll leave you with this; Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs and Jamie Carragher’s thoughtful analysis of Red Monday. They make valid points about Liverpool’s selection problems and suggest that they may have made a pragmatic choice to avoid losing. Their comments are insightful, and more importantly treat the audience with respect.

Watch and learn BBC.


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