The Worst Football Pundits on Radio and TV

March 12, 2018

- Grant Whittington

In general terms, football pundits are meant to lend their expertise and insight to enrich our enjoyment of the beautiful game.

While some succeed in this endeavour, others struggle to offer anything of value while there’s even a few who seemingly find it hard to string together coherent sentences.

Although people like Paul Gascoigne were probably never cut out to be pundits, at the Bet Hut were surprised at the quality of punditry that we see through some channels. In this post, we’ll look at the worst pundits across TV and radio, while asking how they’re allowed to continue in their roles.

Mark Lawrenson, BBC

We start with a man who manages to show both bias and risk-aversion in equal measure, while also offering the same level of insight that you would have typically expected from Paul the Octopus.

Not only does former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson deal almost exclusively in generalisations and surface level punditry, but we don’t remember him ever predicting that a top-six Premier League clash would end in anything other than a draw. As for his famously woeful and biased predictions on BBC Sport, anyone who frequents his page will know that he hasn’t forecast a Liverpool for what seems like years, with the Reds’ last defeat in Lawro’ alternate universe probably announced by telegram.

Lawro also wears a tired and jaded look on screen, as though all of his spirit and desire to inform left his body when he shaved his once trademark moustache after losing a bet with Bolton fans that their side would be relegated in 2002.

With hindsight, the BBC should probably have sacked Lawro and kept the moustache to keep Gary Lineker company of Match of the Day.

Owen Hargreaves, BT Sport

 Ah, Owen. Such an intelligent and earnest footballer, those of you who like the occasional wager would probably have put money on Hargreaves turning into an excellent pundit.

Unfortunately, the former Manchester United, Bayern Munich and England midfielder offers very little in the way of intelligent comment, instead preferring to describe pretty much everything that happens during a game as either “outstanding” or “incredible”. This is particularly true when his beloved Manchester United play, where even a David De Gea goal kick has the potential to leave our Owen purring.

Perhaps he should get out more, but there’s no doubt that listening to Hargreaves commentate on a Monday night mash-up between Stoke City and West Bromwich Albion can be a genuinely surreal experience.

It’s also quite an achievement to be the worst BT Sport pundit called Owen, particularly with a certain ex-Liverpool striker also plying his dry and incredibly dull trade with the channel.

Andy Townsend, ITV and BBC Radio 5 Live

 We make our next selection with a heavy heart, with the former Chelsea and Republic of Ireland midfielder seemingly a genuinely nice guy. Still, his commentary leaves a huge amount to be desired, with his never-ending stream of generic football cliches having seen his name trend on Twitter on numerous occasions against a backdrop of fan frustration.

Not necessarily a detail man, Townsend seems to have graduated from the Ron Atkinson school of punditry, preferring short and meaningless soundbites over genuinely insightful comment. Probably best described as “pub punditry”, this is harmless by itself but quite annoying when you remember that he’s been paid handsomely for producing such drivel.

In truth, Townsend has probably failed to recover from the ill-fated Tactics Truck segment during ITV’s coverage of the Premier League at the turn of the century. A hapless feature that has since passed into folklore, Townsend would probably have been better served selling burgers from the back of his van rather than dishing out his own brand of tactical insight.

Thierry Henry, Sky Sports

We reckon there’s one thing wrong with the Arsenal legend Thierry Henry; he was simply too good as a player. The Gunners record goalscorer was an effortlessly brilliant player at his peak, and he clearly has little or no incentive to offer anything of value as a pundit.

Instead, the ever-so-cool Frenchman sits in the studio looking endlessly self-satisfied with his achievements, only to be occasionally disturbed from his contentedness by an ill-timed question.

What usually follows is a half-arsed, but seamlessly delivered, response, and one which is as bland as a scoop of sugar-free vanilla ice cream.

Still, he is occasionally responsible for moments of unintended hilarity, such as when he simply forgot Dmitri Payet’s name during a life broadcast.

Do you agree with our selections, or have we missed someone out? If so, feel free to let us know below!

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