Punditry, managers, lies, and money in football

Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho during the Premier League match at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday April 27, 2017. See PA story SOCCER Man City. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: EDITORIAL USE ONLY No use with unauthorised audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or "live" services. Online in-match use limited to 75 images, no video emulation. No use in betting, games or single club/league/player publications.

Sports bring up three live things – the action [on the pitch], commentary, and punditry. There is also a common truth about sports – in whatever form it is better enjoyed with great commentary and punditry.

In the EPL, punditry has almost become an evil item, if you take only the managers’ view. From Jose Mourinho to Arsene Wenger, and even Pep Guardiola [top six teams], there have been accusations against pundits, who are mostly former players, of going overboard with their analysis and conclusions.

But where should punditry start and end?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines a pundit as “a person who knows a lot about a particular subject and is therefore often asked to give an opinion about it.”

So does having played football at the highest level instill this kind of knowledge?”

Mourinho has continually been in the eye of the storm concerning his tactics believed to be holding back Manchester United and especially Paul Pogba.

The Portuguese is just the latest manager to wage a war of words against pundits and news outlets on fabricating lies [fake news].

He slyly aimed a dig at Gary Neville, one of his harshest critics, on the former United captain been sacked from Valencia after four months as a manager. “Some of the guys with an opinion couldn’t resolve their own problems when they were managers, so they are giving opinions like they have solutions for everything but is not like that.

“But they are in a position where they can give opinions about everything,” he added.

He had also said in the pre-match press conference for the FA Cup tie away to Huddersfield in February, “It’s a big lie that our relationship [with Paul Pogba] is not good. It’s a big lie that we don’t communicate.

It’s a big lie we don’t agree with his position and his dynamic within the team.”

Mourinho has also famously berated United legend, Paul Scholes for being jealous of Pogba at the beginning of the year.

“The only thing Scholes does is criticise. Scholes will be in history as a phenomenal player. Not as a pundit,” Mourinho added.

But what was Scholes’ sin? “Pogba doesn’t look fit, I wonder whether he is training properly, “ Scholes had said in his punditry on BT Sports.

“No-one in England should be getting near him, but he is being asked to do a role he is not comfortable in. You have to say the manager has to take responsibility for that.”

Though Mourinho has had to accept Pogba is indeed not playing up to what is expected after substituting the French man in two consecutive league matches – against Tottenham and Newcastle. What made the substitution more telling was Pogba been hauled off with Manchester United trailing their opponents.

In early January, Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry stated on air that he believed the Arsenal camp to be divided. To which Arsene Wenger responded: “I don’t know, I don’t listen to what he says and other people says.

“There are people who are paid to talk, it’s difficult sometimes when you are paid to talk, to talk, to talk and only say things that are true and intelligent,” Wenger jibed.

In 2014, Wenger had rapped Paul Merson in his job as a pundit. “People who have managed altogether zero games teach everybody how you should behave. It’s a farce. Honestly, I cannot even be upset about it.”

“They love to criticise. It’s much more about bitterness than any real objective facts,” Wenger added.

As money has poured into the EPL, so has the array of pundits grown, with most of them being former England players.

No matter on which divide you intend to stay; either for the managers or the pundits, the truth is both make the game more enjoyable and most pundits speak the mind of some football fans.

So long will it continue as long as people congregate to watch and subsequently discuss the game!

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Former footballer, passionate football enthusiast and analyst and a proud Nigerian.

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