Thursday, 17 June 2010

"England aren't good enough to go out yet.."

... "France will make the quarter-finals." ... "We're always ready to start an autopsy without a body." With his counter-intuitive gambits on the BBC tonight, Danny Baker showed how punditry should be done. Baker was like a speedfreak thrown into a room full of somnambulists, gleefully providing all the controversy Tom English called in for in his blast against anodyne pundits in the Scotsman. It wasn't contrarianism for its own sake, but an intelligence that won't countenance mouthing platitudes even if they're true. Baker might be wrong, but his thought-bombs are always stimulating. Too often, the ITV and BBC panels manage to both state the obvious and be wrong. They extrapolate ploddingly on the basis of received wisdom and/ or what they've just seen, failing either to notice long-term patterns or to contemplate unexpected twists. Robbie Earle getting sacked by ITV is far more interesting than anything he's ever said. The only interesting thing about Alan Shearer is the faint air of suppressed violence that surrounds him: he looks like a squaddie who's just beaten someone to death with a shoe. Andy Townsend inarticulately and over-excitedly voices your own most banal thoughts, ten minutes after you'd dismissed them as too tedious to vocalise: he's like Trevor Brooking, but even more dull. Hansen retains a flinty charisma and a stern authority, but he's stale, lacking any foils.

The lesson: employ those with expertise in talking and thinking as pundits. Any other suggestions for who would make a good pundit?


  1. It would be a shame with the big ones going out.
    We all like to think we want surprises, but it gets really boring and even unwatchable with Australia, Greece and so on.
    I had hopes on the African countries. But two of my favourites are not even in the world cup. Togo and Mali. Beautiful corpses, long legs and colourful colours. Pure aesthetic beauty.
    France were doomed long before, I am so surprised how long Domenech has ended in the job. He must be one of the worst coaches in the competition. Insane.
    In previous world cups I really enjoyed Leonardo and Jimmy Floyd was also good fun.
    British commentators tend to want to be funny, but not managing it and they are just not clever enough.
    Alan Shearer is a total bore.
    Then again I won´t be listening to them.

  2. Dan should not only be running the coverage,he should be picking the team and send them out onto the pitch with the defiant message certain to guide us to glory ...."nothing can go wrong now"

  3. Danny Baker's reportage has brightened up the tournament so far and with some of the pundits we've endured, thank God he's there.

    Looking forward to his Radio 5 programme tomorrow (Saturday) morning.

  4. I personally would like to see Frank Sidebottom among the pundits but maybe that's just me.

  5. 'They extrapolate ploddingly on the basis of received wisdom and/ or what they've just seen, failing either to notice long-term patterns or to contemplate unexpected twists.'

    Exactly. Calling it 'analysis' is stretching that term to its limit. Team A won: what they were doing was right. Team B lost: why didn't they do what Team A did? The manager must be stupid! No counterfactual arguments, no imagination, nothing that will spark a single neurone in the minds of viewers.

    Deft portraits of Townsend and Shearer too.