Gary Neville – TV Pundit

(Getty)

Presumably now those people who threatened to cancel their subscriptions when Gary Neville was appointed as Sky Sports’s main pundit have come to realise, whether they like to admit it or not, that if they can just detach themselves from the endless slog of club allegiances for a few moments and listen, without prejudice, there is a good chance they might actually learn something.

His analysis of Arsenal’s defending, for example, for Chelsea’s winning goal on Saturday, and the clear evidence that Arsène Wenger still lacks an authority figure in the heart of his defence, all of which goes against the swell of opinion after Arsenal began the season with three clean sheets and a heap of praise for Steve Bould, their former centre-back now operating as assistant manager.

Neville explained his points calmly and succinctly, highlighted the way Arsenal’s defenders had been four or five yards inside their own penalty area as they prepared to face a free-kick, why it was inviting trouble and the fact there was nobody getting everyone organised in the way, as he then showed, John Terry could later be seen doing for Chelsea.

……

Ed Chamberlin, the host, wanted to know if Ferdinand had an international future now that Terry was no longer on the scene. Add in the fact that Neville spent nine years as a colleague of Ferdinand’s at Manchester United and knows very well how much his former team-mate cherished playing for England and it was a difficult question, to put it mildly.

What followed felt like the unofficial confirmation Ferdinand will continue to be left out when Hodgson names his squad on Thursday for England’s next two World Cup qualifiers, against San Marino and Poland.

“He is a class defender, but [at] the World Cup, he’ll be 35,” Neville said. “Roy Hodgson has said importantly – and it’s a mistake many managers have made with England – he’s not going to take 34-year-olds, 35-year-olds who are seasoned internationals, who have 70-odd, 80 caps, to sit in the stand. I’ve seen that be divisive in previous squads and it will be divisive in this squad. And it won’t happen, and it’s the correct decision.

……

“People will say Rio Ferdinand’s lost the pace, a yard of pace,” he said. “Maybe he has. But I think he’d have struggled in that position five or six years ago, I really do.

“He’s the one who’s going to take the hit, because he’s that involved. He’s the one who’s chasing [Jan] Vertonghen. He’s the one chasing [Gareth] Bale. He’s the one who’s taken the hit. But there are four or five mistakes on each of those goals.

“Rio Ferdinand is a great centre-back. He’s a quick centre back. Still quick. Still quicker than Steve Bruce. He’s still quicker than Tony Adams. He’s still quicker than John Terry … but how many times do you see those players isolated one on one?”

Continue reading Why Gary Neville is out on his own when it comes to TV punditry by Daniel Taylor.

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