At the end of the day, it’s a game of two halves

You might have noticed there’s a bit of football on the telly at the moment.

Yes, the World Cup’s here, bringing with it hundreds of analysts, bloggers, commentators, pundits and podcasters.

TV punditry is dominated by ex-pros, fond of telling people that ‘the Pirlos of the world’ (pretty sure there’s only one Pirlo, Andy) like to play ‘in and around the opposing number ten’ (pretty sure he can’t play in the opposing number ten, Andy). They’re also fond of phrases like ‘he’ll be disappointed with that’ and ‘if anything, he hit it too well’. Players are ‘unveiled’, small teams are ‘minnows’ and transfers are ‘protracted’. Words you’d almost never use in a sane conversation pop up constantly.

At the other end of the spectrum are the bloggers and podcasters. These guys are so knowledgeable on the game that they’ve coined an almost entirely new language to debate it in. If you don’t know your trequartistas from your registas*, and your inverted wingers from your false nines, you’ll struggle to make it through a match report.

But there is one pundit who’s managed to unite both camps in something approaching admiration: part-time pundit and England coach Gary Neville.

And his secret? No jargon or clichés, he just uses everyday language. Here he is breaking down where Liverpool went wrong against Chelsea at the end of last season.

This is a team that did some absolute no-nos. There is a way to chase a game: you don’t shoot from unrealistic distances, and you don’t cross from deep areas unless you’ve got big men in the box.

As ever, it’s the person who can explain complex ideas in a straightforward way who gets the most respect.

And thanks to England’s performance this summer, he’ll be back in a commentary box soon. (He’ll be disappointed with that.)

 

*These aren’t technically new terms, they’re Italian positions that have been around for decades – but they’ve only found their way into English commentary in the last few years.

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