Bemoaning Arsenal’s penchant for “trying to walk it in”, has long been a reliable way to blag a knowledge of the beautiful game, but since the invention of ‘the football hipster’ there’s a whole new set of credentials to bluff.
Hating on pundits is the way to go to impress yourself on such folk and there’s certainly been plenty of scope for that over the course of the World Cup in Brazil.
At news.bwin.com/en/ however, we still love the old world (as Jonathan Richman once said), so our TV team of the tournament is as replete with the old punchbags as feted academics.
Anchorman – Gary Lineker
It undersells Lineker to suggest that not being Adrian Chiles was enough to get him our anchor nod, but it certainly helps.
The Leicester crisp hawker’s glorious past relieves him of the need to fawn over his celebrated studio guest felt so keenly by the man everyone secretly doubts supports West Brom at all.
Premier League cliché merchant – Alan Shearer
A whipping boy for fans of enlightening analysis for years, the cue ball-domed Geordie enjoyed something of a late blossoming in Brazil.
Perhaps it was the heat of the land of joga bonito seeping into his bones, but as the tournament wore on Shearer began to speak with zeal and, yes, even insight.
Recently-retired great – Fabio Cannavaro
Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira undermined their eloquence with a certain degree of arrogance, a claim you could never make against a man who has gone from being one of the world’s greatest defenders to one of its most happy-go-lucky pundits.
Viewers willing to expend the brow-furrowing effort necessary to penetrate his accent were often rewarded with gems of wisdom hewn from his immense experience.
The freewheeling maverick – Martin O’Neill
A former European Cup winner, the Northern Irishman has the medals in the cabinet to back up his patronising down-talking of fellow panel members such as the bewildered Patrick Vieira.
Commentator – Clive Tyldesley
Rock solid, the heir to John Motson’s sheepskin and the Sergio Busquets of the whole operation, his unfussy action relay is the face-slapping antidote to Jonathan Pearce’s breathless overindulgence.
Summariser – Phil Neville
Pilloried, lampooned and then pilloried again for crimes including dullness, clichés and mispronunciation, P-Nev’s baptism of fire has given the commentator-hating public a new anti-hero to cherish.
The roving Wild Card – Tim Vickery
Excellent when called upon for all he was criminally underused, Vickery’s lived-in understanding of the footballing and social context within South America saved the British public from the cliché gruel they’re usually served when the continent’s teams are in action.