With the appointment of Gary Neville to the new England setup and the finale of the Premier League season, I thought I would share my views on the former right back’s first full season with Sky Sports.
The ex-Manchester United man was loved by fans of the Red Devils and despised by all others. The true definition of a one team man, he gave his all for United winning a horde of domestic and European trophies. Nevertheless it was not with some muttering from football viewers when he became one of the lead pundits for Sky Sports.
Many fans, myself included, have been extremely impressed (and surprised) with the contribution he has made in this role, particularly in taking over the Andy Gray role on Monday Night Football. Of course I freely admit its wrong to judge a footballer based on his ‘on the pitch’ attitude, but with Gary Neville it was initially difficult not to. His partisan United support made him difficult to like as a player, albeit I grudgingly admit he was the best right back England have seen in a long time.
He’s added something to Sky’s football coverage they have been lacking for a long time, namely the insight and knowledge to appeal to the ‘thinking fan’. In comparison to cricket where Sky punditry is beyond exceptional, the football equivalent has suffered from rent-a-quote pundits who roll out the same clichés time and time again. With Neville we have seen this change as he combines an honest approach with an insightful view of the game we love, bringing out the best in, and improving Sky’s other lead football pundit, Graeme Souness.
If Gary Neville can maintain this approach, whilst Sky add pundits who can create the same sense of interest in viewers then it adds to the spectacle surrounding football on the channel.