It’s time to finally settle the debate of Sky Sports best pundit
Much like the modern full-back, the punditry game has changed greatly.
Gone are the days of Andy Gray and Richard Keys chuckling over dad jokes or crying about “What ever happened to a simple 4-4-2?"
Now, pundits are argumentative, opinionated and they carry their own personal history from the pitch onto the screens, as old rivals swap crunching tackles for verbal wrestling. Nothing can get Twitter trending like a Roy Keane meme, Carragher v Neville debate or a classic Souness Pogba rant.
But we want to know, who is the best?
PROS: For being the oldest pundit and longest retired from playing, Souness is staunchly modern in his thinking. His strong stance against homophobia and racism in football seems very genuine and sincere. He likes to throw up the old “in my day it was never a foul” quip, but why shouldn’t he? He personifies the very beginning of the football-to-fame transition and lends an interesting voice to comparing what football used to be, to what it has become. He also possesses a deathly glaze that could give Roy Keane a run for his money.
CONS: He doesn’t half hold a grudge. Pogba is certainly a Marmite figure but the rants against him are becoming a little tired. If he lost his keys in the morning, then it was probably Pogba who stole them and left them at his expensive barbers while getting his hair dyed.
PROS: It’s hard to believe that Redknapp has been in this game for over a decade, given his youthful looks. Despite having a reputation of being a bit bland in his punditry, he has actually given some brutally honest reviews of a few big names that leads to some great viewing. Most recently he’s called out Jose Mourinho by name and said that he needed to take responsibility for Tottenham's poor performances of late. Bold move.
CONS: He struggles to hold his own under pressure when arguments get heated, particularly against Roy Keane, who has the ability to get him so flustered that those tanned cheeks turn a rosey, raging red.
PROS: Neville is the most tactically astute pundit on the panel. He was relentlessly passionate and meticulous as a player which was one of the reasons he remained at the top for so long and he carries this same energy into his analysis. His lively debates with Carragher are so famous, they can fill the back pages for weeks and although people might not “want to be a Gary Neville” they certainly want to watch him.
CONS: There’s being passionate and there’s being a cheerleader. Nobody expects Neville to pretend that he’s not Manchester United to the core, but there is a line that gets crossed when fan-boying for certain United stars and it can bring the integrity of his impartiality into question.
PROS: Passionate doesn’t even come close to describing the enthusiastic scouser. His high-pitch squeals of delight or disapproval can’t help but make you laugh and that’s without his sharp tongue that has handed out a few lashings to his Sky Sports colleagues. His tactical analysis is decent as well, but it’s his engagement on social media, constantly getting fans to weigh in on opinions and debates, that’s most impressive. He’s an open book who’s willing to talk and row with anyone, from football legends to the casual fan in the pub.
CONS: Similar to Neville, Carragher can slip into cheerleader mode when watching his beloved Liverpool. The two of them help each other balance out on this, as we saw recently in their debate over Trent Alexander-Arnold. This can sometimes leave the impression that Liverpool and Man United are the only two teams in the league, which seems silly when they both currently sit so far behind Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side.
PROS: Value for money in entertainment alone. Forget everything else, when Keane is on one there’s nothing better on TV. From reminding Carragher that almost winning the league isn't the same as actually winning one, threatening to swing punches at David De Gea and setting up camp in Jamie Redknapp’s head so emphatically that not only is it rent free, he’s actually the landlord. The fact that he’s even coined a catchphrase, “Do me a favour”, makes him even more entertaining as you patiently wait for him to drop it every week.
CONS: Simply saying “Listen you’re supposed to be a (insert name of big club here) player, it’s not good enough” doesn’t really add any substance to match analysis. According to Keane, every issue with every team or player is purely to do with character.
PROS: With a chuckle that could go toe-to-toe with Frank Bruno’s as the most endearing laugh there is, Richards is often the peacemaker. That’s not to say he’s in any way boring as he constantly tries to wind Keane up, isn’t afraid to jump out of his seat and can get serious when he needs to. His analysis is usually quite fair and he doesn’t drop explosive sound bites like some of his peers, but also tackles the big issues, particularly racism in sport.
CONS: It’s difficult to be negative about someone who oozes so much positivity, but sometimes his arguments can lack substance and when he finds himself backed into a corner, he usually laughs his way out.
So now it's time to settle it.
Comment on our social media who your favourite Sky Sports pundit is and why.