Pundit wars

Thursday, June 8, 2006 by

The World Cup is upon us once again and there are bags of matches lined up for the dedicated fan to watch. But which side, BBC or ITV, is going to win the battle of the pundits?

On paper it appears the BBC has assembled the best team. Joining the regulars Hansen, Shearer, Dixon and Wright are two former World Cup winners, Brazil’s Leonardo and Marcel Desailly of France who should add a bit of variety to the staid punditry techniques of Hansen and Shearer. Celtic manager Gordon Strachan, who is usually one of the better of the team is back too, while the ever-insightful Garth “just how long can I make this question” Crooks will no doubt be on hand to provide his usual probing interviews in the tunnel.

ITV, on the other hand, has a right old mixed bag. Dutchmen Ruud Gullit and Jimmy Floyd Hasslebank are new to British punditry, as is Bolton’s Nigerian star Jay Jay Okocha. Boring old Andy Townsend (wonder if he will be driving his Tactics Truck over to Germany?), Robbie Earle and Ally McCoist are included, having made it back to the football big time after a season presenting highlights show for ITV’s coverage of the English lower divisions. Potentially more interesting is the inclusion of Big Sam Allardyce and Stuart Pearce.

On the commentary front, Motty, armed with his amazing statistical knowledge is of course back for his 48th World Cup finals for the BBC alongside the noisy Jonathan Pearce. Clive Tyldesley will be the main man in charge of the mike for ITV, probably accompanied by the ponderous, yet quite insightful David Pleat or the new Boro boss Gareth Southgate.

Presenter-wise it is two dyed-in-the-wool BBC types heading up the programmes for both channels. Gary Lineker will be hosting most regularly for the BBC (complete with his witticisms and unfunny quips, no doubt), while defector Steve Rider takes charge over on the other side having joined the channel to front their Formula 1 coverage. Adrian Chiles is better than both of them combined, but unfortunately he is confined to the BBC late-night highlight show.


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