FFT's Huw Davies reports on the post-tournament rumblings from another disappointing campaign...
England Under-21 players have been quick to criticise underperforming football pundits after another disappointing display showed a lack of lessons learned and left fans feeling cold.
The ex-pros were expected to deliver probing analysis following the Young Lions’ exit from the European Championship, or at least show promise for the future, but spurned the chance to offer insight, context or even rational thought.
Harry Redknapp and Mark Lawrenson, in particular, were guilty of lacking penetration and ambition, regularly choosing to take the safe option instead. And England’s under-21 players say the cause of the decline is the staggering rise in wages for ex-players in the media.
“The moment these pundits show any innate ability, they get too much money too early,” said Carl Jenkinson. “As soon as they get their first deal with the BBC or a tabloid newspaper, they have no chance. If the Beeb don’t pay these huge wages they’re on, BT Sport or Sky will. Or ESPN. That’s still a thing, right?”
“The bigger picture,” Harry Kane added, “is they think commentating on the Premier League is a far bigger deal than watching England U21s. Lawrenson doesn’t want to bother learning names of new Italian or Serbian players, or what position they play in, or why there’s no shame in losing 1-0 to a Portugal team that's gone nearly four years unbeaten. But that commitment is what English football needs.”
Harry Redknapp was also lambasted by the young pros for his lack of effort. “He doesn’t put in the work,” said Leicester City’s Liam Moore. “I heard him say: ‘Marcelo Trotta? Wasn’t he in Only Fools And Horses?’ And he thought Davide Zappacosta was a rock musician with a massive moustache.
“Redknapp and these other pundits – they’re first out of the studio,” Moore continued. “They should be in there, even if they’re only doing simple things like researching the opposition or actually watching the match. But they walk off thinking:‘I’ve got a three- or four-year contract with The Sun – I’ve made it.’”
Alan Shearer, one of English punditry’s younger brood at 44, also came in for particular criticism after tweeting: “If that is progress, I’m even more worried than I was.”
“He showed a lack of maturity,” said Luke Garbutt, 13. “You can’t get away with that attitude at this level. It’s the same old thing. We never learn. As for Redknapp, he can’t even get in the Match of the Day team.”
Redknapp was – incredibly – unavailable for comment, but Lawrenson responded to the criticism of English punditry by pointing out that technically he’s Irish.