Jon Dunham – Ex-pros? Don’t believe all they say

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

When it comes to sport, there aren’t a great number of things that really wind me up.

The one thing that does on a consistent basis, as those of you who follow me on Twitter will testify, would be the fortunes of my beloved Norwich City. I am, after all, a fickle football fan and quite happy to admit it.

But, as I sat down in front of the television last Sunday night, I eventually had to restrain myself from putting a boot through it as I watched a certain football highlights programme.

I was watching it for a couple of reasons. One – to have another look at the highlights from Norwich’s win over Tottenham (so enjoyable I had to watch it twice), and two – to see what the pundits on said programme made of the Canaries’ performance.

Now, I am as big a critic of my team as there probably is. I’m not afraid to say if they have been poor after watching them, I don’t really believe in anyone making excuses.

But I thought we played pretty well throughout the whole 90 minutes against Spurs. We looked like a side that is willing to scrap for our Premier League survival, we scored a good goal, we defended like animals and we could have scored a couple more.

All this against a side that was sitting in the top six at the start of play.

Everyone, of course, is entitled to their opinion. But the dross that came out of the two pundits on this programme that evening wound me up an absolute treat.

‘Norwich were nervous’, ‘If it isn’t happening in front of goal, strikers (referring to Ricky van Wolfswinkel) must be prepared to work hard’. These were two crackers.

Norwich looked fairly confident all game, they certainly showed no fear from where I was watching. And van Wolfswinkel? Well, it’s fair to say he has been a bit of a flop at the price that was paid for him but he worked his absolute socks off all afternoon for the cause. Trust me, I would have been the first to say otherwise.

The point here is that it’s not the fact that it was my team these ‘pundits’ were talking about. The point is that they are paid to have the final say on the weekend’s football, without any sort of real comeback and just expect everyone to take their word as gospel.

Forgive me for being a little cynical here, but the two in question were decent footballers in their time, they certainly weren’t brilliant by any stretch.

But that’s not even the point. It is the fact that there seems to be a real aura of arrogance to some of these ex-players who, in my opinion, appear to be nicking a living in the media world.

Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t all of them. I thoroughly enjoy listening to and watching a vast number of ex-pros. Indeed, the two who were there to talk about Norwich against Spurs on the channel it was shown live on pretty much covered the whole game in a nutshell (the fact they both had brilliant and glittering careers may well be neither here nor there).

Football is all about opinions. Indeed, I am lucky to have the job I do where I get the chance to write about sports and, in particular, football. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me, I never would. But I hope people read it and I hope they enjoy it.

What I really can’t stand is those ex-pros who think they know best, struggle to make their point and when they do, are clearly wrong.

And then, if challenged, some of them have the gall to come out with the wonderful words ‘you have never played the game’.

I never played football at a high level, that is fact.

But something else that is fact is that I know I can call a game as well as anyone. Mainly because you learn to as time goes by.

Some of these ‘experts’ come across in a very patronising way. Some of them, after the careers they had, can probably justify it. Others (no names mentioned) can’t.

Thankfully, the vast majority of football fans are switched on and understand that what these former pros say isn’t the be-all and end-all.

If their job is to stir things up and prompt a reaction then well done, you certainly did that to me last weekend.

Unfortunately for them, I don’t think that was the aim. They just got it horribly wrong.