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Today’s football analysis and its problems

Monday 5th June 2017
We all love football. That's what has brought you right here to this very article and website. Yet, the game today is infected with former players and pundits in suits talking about the game; offering very little content of worth.

A football match is 90 minutes. Watching a football match is media induced afternoon of waffle. The popularity of the sport has led the media to dedicate a lot of time to football. But what exactly happens on this air time when there isn't a game taking place? Coverage and analysis. Analysis and coverage and lord, there's just too much of it.

Watching the coverage from start to finish these days will have you endure countless old men who used to play the game talk about how it was in their day. Whilst yes, some of which is valid information and can be very interesting as we get a scoop from someone who used to play the game professionally. There comes a line where it becomes a bit much for even the hardened football fan to stomach.

The biggest culprits are, of course, Jeff and the boys. Jeff Stelling and his cronies line up every Saturday on Sky Sports and present what is in my eyes the worst coverage of live football ever. I appreciate, having to describe something that the audience cannot see is an uphill task but having watched their broadcast countless times, I've yet to walk away from any more knowledgeable from it, other than the score lines – but that's largely from the graphics, not the presenters. The line-up includes Paul Merson and Phil Thompson, both of which mercilessly took shots at Marco Silva before he had managed a single game. The same kind of bullish, uninformed and tasteless commentary is replicated throughout the programme. It's truly despicable and not a side of the game we should have to endure. Whilst they have some vindication because Silva was unable to stop Hull from being relegated, he did his best to the side and as a result has landed on his feet and been appointed as the Watford manager, another top-flight job.

That's one side of the game, the other is ultra-high-brow: thinking man's game; of intellectual property around both Paul Pogba's passes and his paciferous range of emoticons. It's neither here nor there, really. Whilst, yes, I personally do enjoy several left-of-field football subject matter publications (season and eight-by-eight, are just so perfect), there becomes a point when the juxtaposition of award winning photographers attending non-league football matches collapses on itself and no longer becomes ironic, just a waste of time. Monty Python, a famous comedy troupe from the 1970s once made light of football analysis a sketch which tried to illuminate how farfetched football analysis had become.
There's also the concept that football fans are being brainwashed into what to think, about every aspect of the game. The fact that there's an ex-pro talking about every morsel of the game doesn't allow much breathing space for fans to develop their own opinions. The course of a match will have you listen to three suited men, about what they think will happen in the match. During the match, the same theme continues with commentary – and this year, Sky Sports introduced mid-match football analysis. Usually by the insightful *ahem* not insightful *ahem*, Gary Neville. Which just takes the need to think away from fans. The overbearing mission for the pundits to be listened to and for you, the spectator to shut up and listen. The ability to just watch a game of football, without being force-fed what to think is actually very liberating. Try watching the Chinese Super League via Bet 365, which features no commentary at all.

It's also worth mentioning the ilk of a lot of the pundits on TV, are of a certain age and don't seem to have moved on with time. Phil Neville recently took exception to the way that Arsenal and Manchester United players behaved before a match. A lot of the players knew each other from former clubs or their international sides, so there was a little of bit of camaraderie between the two sets of players. Neville believed there was no place for this, but surely this shows a maturity of player's attitudes and a progressive step. There's also a fair few pundits who do not like footballers use of social media and take to their media outlets to put others down, pot calling the kettle black and all. When really, we live a different world than that of the pundits who didn't get the chance to use Instagram during their playing careers, because it didn't exist. So how do they really have the right to comment on its usage?

In all, I'd like to confirm I'm not asking for the destruction of football analysis and commentary – but I am asking it to be re-imagine and definitely in a more bite-size package. There's too much of it confining fans opinions to a limited gene pool. In addition, there should be less ex-professional footballers who bring their dogmatic opinions of a bygone era of the sport and more journalists who are paid to have an opinion about contemporary football.
Warren Smith

Yokohama F•Marinos supporter. Seen it all in the J.League, relegation fights and being crowned champions. Play five-a-side, pretty good too. Once scored an overhead kick.

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