Football

Alan Hansen's retirement is an opportunity for the BBC

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Alan Hansen will retire as a pundit for Match of the Day after next year's World Cup in Brazil having been in the job for 22 years. This is good news.

Whether you like Hansen's style of punditry or not, it is out-dated, as is the tired format of the BBC highlights show. Since Hansen joined MOTD in 1992 with the launch of the Premier League, his once insightful analysis of the game has become increasingly amateurish.

This is true of most of the BBC's expert pundits - with the exception of the only man in recent years who has threatened to offer some actual insight, Lee Dixon, but he was lost to ITV in 2012.

Nowhere is this more obvious than when any of Hansen, Mark Lawrenson, Alan Shearer, et al are compared to the peerless Gary Neville on Sky Sports.

There were many misgivings when it was announced that the former Manchester United stalwart was moving into punditry following his retirement in February 2011. He was widely disliked as a player due to his fierce loyalty to United and many felt he would be unable to put aside his allegiances when it came to comment.

However, 'Red Nev' has proven to be a revelation. He is what every pundit should be but many are not. He clearly does huge amounts of research (unsurprising considering it's his job), he is very knowledgeable, his tactical analysis of both defence and attack is second-to-none. And most importantly he clearly loves football.

This, one would think, should be the first thing asked of a professional football pundit. However, Hansen and the BBC team so rarely show any passion for the game. Hansen is unwaveringly critical of everyone, all the time, and not in an interesting or informative way. Lawrenson simply throws out clichés and adds very little in terms of analysis. Shearer and Michael Owen look bored, a feeling that is often transferred onto the viewer. And Robbie Savage is, well, Robbie Savage.

Of course, Gary Neville has the advantage over many of the BBC team of having played at the top level so recently, but that does not excuse the fact that the 38-year-old seems to harbour extensive knowledge and care so much more.

The BBC should use Hansen's departure to bring in someone new to revitalise the show. If they simply promote from within then recording Match of the Day will continue to be essential so that one can fast-forward through the uninformative claptrap that comes between the match highlights.

Match of the Day is the most watched football programme in the country. Millions watch it every week and millions will probably always watch it no matter how bad the punditry is, because they want to watch the games.

And it does have some things going for it. Gary Lineker is good in his presenting role, and the excellent Dan Walker is always around to fill in if needs be. The theme tune is undeniably great. And they show football. But the viewers deserve more.

All that is needed are some fresh faces who are passionate and knowledgeable about the game and want to do the research, and who can know something about all the teams in the league, not just the top four.

Sky have shown that that type of pundit is out there. There are plenty of options that might bring some freshness. Maybe a younger panellist, or a woman, or - gasp - a journalist. Anyone who can offer something new would be a start.

Just please don't leave it up to Owen and Savage to provide the 'expertise'.

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Topics:
Football
Alan Hansen
Premier League

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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