You get to wear a natty suit. You get to appear on the telly. You get to tear into your rivals on a public forum. You get to refer to Sir Alex Ferguson simply as ‘Alex.’ And you get paid for all this. You are a football pundit.
The genesis of this great sinecure is quite obscure. It may well have started as a way to keep former footballers off the dole queue.
Whatever the reason behind its original conception, football punditry has flourished and is now an indispensable part of our football diet. I cannot speak for other fans, but I continue to watch those great drab exercises called previews and reviews and whatnot. All this despite the fact that I can very well predict what Big Mac, the great pundit is going to say next. Addicted, that is the word. The only useful thing about a preview is that you get to see which of the ten thousand permutations Sir Alex has opted for in his team selection. Reviews? You get to hear an authentic Scouse accent and an even more authentic display of Scouse bitterness. Not quite mentally uplifting, but I do watch it all the same. That is how these eminent pundits earn their keep.
Becoming a football pundit is quite easy, believe me. Although a pundit has to be non-aligned like Nehru’s Emerging India, a little bit of bias does bump up the TRPs and keeps the producers happy. Look at Big Mac. It must have been him who invented the great Scouse motto, ‘this is our year.’ “We have Stevie Gerrard, this is our year.” “We have Kuyt, this is our year.” “We have Suarez, this is our year.” “We have King Kenny, this is our year.” “We have Lucas, this is our year.” Yes, he did actually say that last bit too. Just goes to illustrate how much a pundit can get away with. So, if you view the world with tinted glasses, it ought not to hinder your punditerial aspirations.
Even if you know nothing about football tactics, do not despair. Just say that the full-backs will ‘bom’ forward, one of the strikers will drop deep for the ball and the other play a target-man role and voila. Not convinced? If Big Mac knew about football tactics, he’d be Liverpool’s Messiah, not Liverpool’s Apostle.
Take accountability. The beauty of football punditry is that there is absolutely no accountability. “Your predictions for the match,Mr. pundit?” “United 0-7 Liverpool.” The timing of this piece of dialogue is quite significant. It takes place moments before kick-off. At this point of time, most fans are eagerly awaiting the match. Few remember the predictions at the end of the match. Devious, what? Besides, even fewer fans care about what was predicted earlier.
All in all, it is undoubtedly the Cushiest Job In The World. Should, God forbid, I fail in my chosen vocation, I shall darn that suit, comb my hair, polish my Scouse accent and bitterness and grab a passing broadcaster.