PEP Guardiola, the highly-experienced manager of Manchester City, was piqued recently by comments about his management from Gary Neville, former Manchester United player and now Sky Sports pundit.
He compared Neville’s short and inglorious attempt at management with his own successful management career.
His comments received support from an unlikely source; Cold Feet actress, Fay Ripley. Appearing on TV’s Room 101, where celebrities air their dislikes, her choice was ‘Football Pundits’.
Slightly embarrassing as a fellow celebrity on the show was Gary Lineker. “Are you saying”, he asked Ripley, “that we have people who don’t know what they are talking about?”
I suggested exactly that to the BBC some years ago, about the Laws of the Game.
Afterwards, the producer of Match of the Day phoned me saying they had discussed my comments and planned to speak to Keith Hackett, then head of Premier League referees, about introducing a feature on the Laws. A few months later, when nothing had happened, I e-mailed Keith who told me that he had not received any such request.
My argument with the BBC is that they use the phrase ‘contentious decisions’ to sell Match of the Day. ‘Watch after the news for great matches and several contentious decisions’ they say. But they have no-one qualified to talk about them, just ex-footballers who have never refereed in their life and probably never read the Laws of the Game.
Let me give an example involving Lineker himself. The referee penalised a player for kicking the ball as the goalkeeper tried to kick the ball up field out of his hands, ‘Wrong,’ said Gary Lineker. I put in my column the clause which says ‘an indirect free kick is awarded if a player, kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing the ball’.
After reading the column he sent me a note. It said simply, ‘I still think I am right - Gary Lineker.’ One nil to Ripley I think.