As soccer continues to grow in the US, so does the number of experts covering it. Both ESPN and Fox Soccer Channel have acknowledged that what viewers need are analysts who can analyze the game and provide fans with real in-depth informative information – pre-game and during the half-time interval, before culminating in some real conclusive analysis of the matches highs and lows during the post game show.
These new pundits have been brought in from all over the word in the form of ex players, and ex coaches, real students of the game. But aside from being knowledgeable about the play on the field they also have to be personable to the audience off of it, a skill that not all ex soccer players can manage to pull off when placed in front of the camera.
The performance of some are ‘hits’, the worst performers are definitely ‘misses’ while some, still trying to prove their worth and their knowledge, fall in as the ‘maybes’.
The Hits –
Eric Wynalder – after retiring from a highly successful playing career, Wynalder began working as a soccer analyst for ESPN in 2006. Over the years he has carved out an impressive broadcast career, and now regularly appears on Fox Soccer Channel.
Engaging, charismatic, informative and also very outspoken, Wynalder provides a breath of fresh air to soccer analysis in the US, along with providing some much needed debates with his co-host on the show, Warren Barton.
Steve McManaman (play-by-play announcer) McManaman is a relative newcomer to ESPN, but is already proving to be an excellent addition (along with his co-host Ian Darke) in providing viewers with real in-depth analysis during matches.
Having played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, Macca (as he is known) is more than qualified to give real insight into any game he covers, and being English, he also sounds like he knows what he is talking about, and he more than does.
Worth a mention – Adrian Healey (lead announcer for ESPN’s coverage of Major League Soccer), Gary Neville (analyst for Sky Sports), Alan Hansen (analyst for the BBC).
The hits – there are many of them – these are the men who can make any 0-0-draw sound enthralling and entertaining. They are not only interesting to listen to, but prove their worth by offering viewers superb tactical analysis. They have the ability to make the audience want to stay and enjoy the half time show as opposed to talking such nonsense that viewers cant get wait to get up off the sofa and make a run to avoid it.
The next article will take a look at the misses and the maybes; the pundits who make pulling teeth seem like a more enjoyable experience than sitting and listening to what they have to say.