Emma Hayes (C) has excelled with her punditry during Euro 2020
Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher have raised the bar for post-match and half-time dissection but for the in-play insights and tactical observations that should be (but so rarely are) the stock in trade of the co-commentator, Emma Hayes has taken the role to another level. So good has she been that it might be that having a manager, rather than an ex-player, becomes the standard shotgun solution.
Stealthiest political dagger
“The standard of leaders in this country has been poor the last two years and looking at that man there it’s everything a leader should be: respectful, humble, tell the truth, genuine” – ITV pundit Neville compares Gareth Southgate with a person or persons unknown.
Most surprising pop-up
It turns out that Jermaine Jenas is the host of The One Show, the milky-tea human interest programme that precedes BBC’s early-evening football. JJ is as adept at discussing consumer affairs, NHS heroes and cute animals as he is a midfield tactical battle, ie “moderately adept”.
Most awkward turn of phrase
Denmark international Nadia Nadim on ITV’s late-night highlights after a thrilling conclusion to Russia 1, Denmark 4. “Oh my God, I was about to get a heart attack.”
Most one-sided selections
Gabby Logan presented the Wales games with an all-Welsh pundit trio who were all allowed to talk of “we” and basically cheerlead (which is not to deny that England games are covered with partisan fervour as well). It is sign of the times that a) being neutral or objective is so last year, and b) perhaps, that the different countries of the UK have given up pretending they are as one.
Most Alan Partridge moment, runner-up
“Romelu Lukaku speaks the language of goals” – Sam Matterface.
Most Alan Partridge moment, winner
“I tell you what, if this comes off, you can do what you want tonight. You’ve had a terrible 16 months. Kids you can stay up, don’t you dare go to bed. The rest of you call your boss, you ain’t coming in in the morning. You deserve this, England deserves this. Feel it, ride it. All that pent up emotion which is 50 seconds away. Just try to be safe and follow the rules, or I’m going to be in one hell of a lot of trouble” – it’s Matterface again, completely losing the plot in the England semi-final.
Best partnership, runner-up
Clive Tyldesley and Ally McCoist have achieved that rarest of feats: drawing approval from football’s internet peanut gallery, with their mixture of knowledge, enthusiasm and a sense of perspective. Had thousands asking why they were not getting the biggest gigs.
Best partnership, winner
Ian Wright and Hayes’s celebration of England’s equaliser versus Denmark was perfection: would absolutely watch a travel show where they go to places together in a really enthusiastic way.
Most on-brand piece of angry punditry Roy Keane: “Yeah, I have been to a Neil Diamond concert. I ended up arguing with the woman next to me – she kept singing the songs out loud, so I ended up in a bit of trouble.”