Analysing the analysts: JOE takes a look at the BBC, ITV and RTE pundits for the World Cup
You're going to be spending a hell of a lot of time with these lads over the next month, so it's time to familiarise yourself with the presenters and pundits for World Cup 2014.
The team: Gary Lineker, Gabby Logan, Rio Ferdinand, Alan Hansen, Thierry Henry, Phil Neville, Alan Shearer, Robbie Savage, Pat Nevin, Danny Murphy, Mark Lawrenson, Jason Roberts, Danny Mills, Clarence Seedorf, Juninho.
Lead anchor: Gary Lineker. Smart, slightly smarmy, knows his stuff, always seems like the kind of public schoolboy who has a good snigger to himself when one of the older boys says “boobies” before doing an armpit fart.
Senior analyst: Alan Hansen, who’s doing a Billo and bowing out after the World Cup. He still looks the part but has not actually said anything remotely interesting since 1997. In recent years has worn the look of a man who can’t quite believe that Sky never came calling. He won’t be missed as much as the BBC would have us think.
Joker in the pack: Mark Lawrenson, whose whole reason for living seems to be to tell us how bored he is of football and how things weren’t like this back in his day. Why does Lawro always look like somebody who has accidentally wandered out of a bitching session in the corner shop on Coronation Street? And is there still a corner shop on Coronation Street?
Best bets: Thierry Henry intrigues us as he’s always been particularly bullshit-free in interview, while Clarence Seedorf is better at being a human than most other men on this planet.
Giving us the dread: Rio Ferdinand, who we fully expect to pockmark every second sentence with the word ‘innit?’ and whose attemptz at bantz will probably have us screaming into our pillow. An honorary mention goes to R****e Sav**e, who doesn’t have the distinction of having been particularly good at football.
Surprise package: Danny Mills, who played like a terrorist but comes across as well reasoned and articulate in reality.
The team: Adrian Chiles, Patrick Vieira, Gus Poyet, Lee Dixon, Ian Wright, Gordon Strachan, Fabio Cannavaro, Martin O’Neill, Glenn Hoddle, Andros Townsend.
Lead anchor: Adrian Chiles. All Brummie pallyness and soundbites, whose main job is to say fewer than seven words as jovially as possible between ad breaks.
Senior analyst: Lee Dixon. Snared from the BBC a couple of years ago, he’s the one whose well thought out and erudite views you forget instantaneously as you’re really waiting for a Roy Keane volley to take Chiles out in one fell swoop. Dixon is, y’know, grand. But he’s no Gilesy.
Joker in the pack: Ian Wright. Give us some f****ng strength. We’ve yet to come across anyone who doesn’t see the former Arsenal striker as just a mouth spouting drivel. Empty vessels make the most noise and if you’re looking for tactical awareness, step away from the television now. We still haven’t forgiven him for interrupting Roy Keane – mid-rant - in the immediate aftermath of Fergie’s book being published.
Best bets: Martin O’Neill is professional, clever and cutting when he needs to be. No platitudes for the Ireland boss, and his presence somewhat makes up for his missing assistant. Patrick Vieira is spot on, while Fabio Cannavaro is just a beautiful, beautiful man. Oh, and wee Gordon Strachan. Always with the one-liners. A class act.
Giving us the dread: Glenn Hoddle, a man who always looks like he needs a Rennie as that spicy calamari is playing havoc with his gut. He probably invented inane footballer speak, he’s like the anti-Brian Clough.
Surprise package: Anyone who has seen Andros Townsend interviewed will know that there’s a brain in there, and he’s not just the usual trained puppy. That being said, he shouldn’t be used for England games as he’s a current (albeit overlooked) member of the squad.
The team: Bill O’Herlihy, John Giles, Eamon Dunphy, Liam Brady, Ronnie Whelan, Kenny Cunningham, Richie Sadlier, Didi Hamann, Ossie Ardiles, Neil Lennon, Brad Friedel, Paul Clement.
Lead anchor: Bill O’Herlihy has been doing this for 763 years and he wears it well. We don’t quite know what we’ll do without him, as this is his last tournament. Will there be tears? There will in the JOE office anyway. He transcends description, he’s just Billo, and we’ll never feel the same way about Darragh Maloney (much as we respect the man). Don’t mention Peter Collins.
Senior analyst: John Giles is not getting any younger, Bill, but he’s still there on merit. Gilesy does look like he’s tiring a bit and he rarely gets involved in any of Liam and Eamon’s spicier exchanges, but his quiet conviction makes him almost as irreplaceable as the man to his right.
Joker in the pack: Eamon Dunphy, who just makes us happier and happier the craggier and craggier his face gets. Eamon may be the king of the flip-floppers but he… does… not… give… a… bollix and loves nothing more than winding Liam Brady up. Dunphy is the main reason why we'll be keeping it on RTE for most of our World Cup viewing pleasure.
Best bet: Richie Sadlier is easily the best young analyst in either the UK or Ireland. We’ve had this silent fear that Sky will cop on to him and take him away from the state broadcaster, that’s how good he is, and he’s ready to step up full-time when Giles finally calls it a day.
Giving us the dread: This is a tough one as RTE’s line-up is quite strong. We hope Brady’s in a good mood most of the time, anyway, because his scowl gives us the willies. Kenny Cunningham is like a watered-down Sadlier, too, truth be told.
Surprise package: Neil Lennon. Fiery. Takes no crap. A decent Roy Keane alternative.