Ex-BBC pundit Lee Dixon and other former Arsenal stars’ sofa performances rated
Ex-Arsenal right-back-turned-pundit Lee Dixon tweeted earlier this week that he was to leave the BBC after an encouraging couple of seasons on the sofa with Gary Lineker and Co.
Dixon posted a message saying: “Sad to be leaving BBC. Nothing lasts forever. New challenges ahead. Loved my time there. Wonderful people”, about his relationship with the Beeb coming to an end.
Many will rightly question why Alan Shearer and Alan Hansen are kept on despite mistake-laden performances this season on MOTD and the BBC’s Euro 2012 coverage, and Dixon’s spot will prove tough to fill.
The former Gunner has been linked with a move to ITV, where he could join his old team-mate Patrick Vieira. The thought of those two linking up again got OTP thinking of just how many players from Arsenal’s past have gone on to become pundits. The numbers are quite substantial.
If Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is noted for the impressive amount of his former charges that have gone on to become managers after retiring, it seems Arsene Wenger has a similar effect on turning his old pupils into pundits.
So here they are, cross-examined and rated at your convenience…
Lee Dixon (Free Agent)
Rumours of a close-season move to ITV as Gareth Southgate’s replacement suggest Dixon’s stock has risen since his BBC breakthrough at the 2006 World Cup. Despite then awkwardly referring to hosts Germany as ‘West Germany’, Arsenal’s previously reliable number two has proved himself comfortable at the highest level of armchair chatter. He’s till prone to a stutter and a mumble now and again, but Dixon is assured enough to take offence to fellow pundit Alan Shearer butting in on his analysis (see the video above). Big things set to come. 8/10
Patrick Vieira (ITV)
If Dixon does move across to ITV, he will join his former Arsenal colleague Paddy Vieira. The Frenchman looks at ease alongside Adrian Chiles and the rest of the boys at BBC’s big rivals, but is often hard to understand when explaining his key points. Perhaps he drops back into French now and again, but it’s a strange one. Still involved enough with modern football to make sure he’s not out of touch. A solid performer. 7/10
Martin Keown (BBC and ESPN)
Keown hasn’t managed to nail down a starting spot at the BBC or ESPN yet, but the once angry Arsenal centre-back has made the change to calm pundit quite effortlessly. Whilst once I imagine getting hit on the head on live TV would have sent Keown into a blind rage, when it happened during an ESPN game and the part-time scout didn’t even look ruffled. Good at defensive analysis, just needs to work on bringing out his personality more. But perhaps not too much, eh? Ever-improving, albeit he gave a couple of shaky performances during Euro 2012. 6/10
Alan Smith (Sky Sports)
Not strictly just a pundit, as ‘Smudge’ can often be heard in the co-commentator’s seat, but he has become a mainstay of the Sky Sports football talkers. But he is often seen offering his views on the game in quite mundane vocal tones. What he says is actually quite insightful, but his delivery does leave a little to be desired. After profiting hugely from Andy Gray’s departure, Smith is a reliable if unadventurous choice for BSkyB. A safe pair of hands (no David Seaman isn’t on the list). 6/10
Ian Wright (Absolute Radio)
Started of his broadcasting career with the BBC, but departed for radio after unhappily citing his role as the ‘comedy jester’ as something he wasn’t keen on. Always seemed to liven up dull England games, although his continual plugging for son Shaun Wright-Phillips to make the team did grate. His move to talkSPORT worked well, and Wrighty now seems to have made a decent fit on Absolute Radio’s Rock ‘N’ Roll footy show. Full of effort, but perhaps better suited to the airwaves. 5/10
Ray Parlour (Freelance)
The ‘Romford Pele’ can be found popping up on broadcast outlets all over the place these days, especially when something big happens at Arsenal. Mostly on radio for BBC 5 Live and talkSPORT, but occasionally he gets a run out on Sky Sports. Eloquent explanation is not Parlour’s forte, but he is a straight-talker. Seems keen to bandy his opinions around wherever, although he did deny me an interview recently over Arsenal’s next assistant manager. Definitely still believes he is big-time. But he’s a below average pundit. 4/10
Paul Merson (Sky Sports)
Now, I’m just not sure how he Merson has a job in television. As much as he is revered by Arsenal fans for having been a fans’ player with talent to boot, Merson just cannot seem to transfer his on-pitch wizardry to the broadcast studios. Often says the wrong thing, and even more often finds himself the butt of the colleague Jeff Stelling’s pranks. Should perhaps consider a second retirement. 3/10