The 2018 FIFA World Cup

World Cup Pundits, Ranked From Least to Most Annoying

Frank Lampard piss off.
Lauren O'Neill
London, GB

International football tournaments, of course, are large scale televisual affairs, and where there is televised football, there are football pundits, and a lot of them! On the telly! All! The! Time! Over the last two weeks, World Cup pundits have become part of the furniture of daily life, as familiar to us as our colleagues. Gary Lineker grins down at me from up on the wall at work; Rio Ferdinand is beamed into my home whenever I happen to flick over to BBC1.


I rarely pay attention to football pundits because I don't like to be spoken at by large groups of men about anything, but the World Cup is everywhere, and so are the pundits. So for this – a fun, topical little slice of content pie – I have decided to rank some of the BBC and ITV talking heads from least to most annoying, because all anyone does is complain about how annoying pundits are anyway (my dad's most dad behaviour, for example, used to be that he would leave the room whenever Alan Hansen came on the TV because he pissed him off so much), so we might as well have it formalised.



Screenshot via

Eni Aluko is the least annoying of the current crop, because she's actually not very annoying at all. She has the very rare ability to make me, someone who is mostly watching the matches because I am bang into getting pissed, feel interested in the nitty-gritty of football. This – excuse me if I’m wrong – does seem to be the point of the job (FAO: Frank Lampard)?? Eni has the distinct aura of the only girl in your year who was both good at PE and nice, and also since I saw that video of Patrice Evra and Jacqui Oatley clapping her (a professional footballer) for knowing about football (the sport she plays for her job), I’m convinced that I would physically bite anyone who dared doubt her.


Screenshot via

If you look up "sound (adj.)" in the dictionary, Gary Lineker’s face is there. Yes, he shags crisps; yes, he shat on the pitch – and he'll banter you off if you mention either. Gary Lineker is a good laugh and he hates Piers Morgan, both of which are important qualities to have as a person, but the actual reason why Lineker is one of the least annoying pundits of the bunch is because he is, crucially, actually quite good at being a television presenter, unlike the rest of these largely useless pricks who – if they were not ex-professional footballers – I’d assume ended up behind the BBC and ITV desks, wide-collared as you like, following a hurried open call in an All Bar One.



Screenshot via

Alex Scott, like Gary Lineker, is great on TV. This is because, unlike most of the men she appears alongside on the BBC, she actually has an ease in front of the camera, and interesting things to recount, like facts and stats! Imagine, a woman having to actually do her research and know literally everything about the stuff she’s talking about to even get behind the same table as a load of lads giving it the gob about VAR every single day! So weird!


Screenshot via

Avoids annoyingness by being vaguely annoyed at whatever is going on around him, which to be honest is a mood I want to emulate.


Alright, not being funny, but have you seen Roy Keane recently? Roy Keane is red as fuck. Roy Keane looks like a cartoon character who is so angry steam is about to come out of his ears. You see, what has happened to Roy Keane is this: he is sunburned.

Roy, it seems, has not taken the proper precautions necessary for Irish skin in the Russian summer, and he has suffered, oh friends, how he has suffered. He looks more like a contestant on Love Island than a football commentator, but the thing about Roy is that if you dare mention this indisputable fact to him, he will go apeshit. Nobody in the ITV studio has goodnaturedly said to him, "Here Roy, did you forget the factor 30?" or "Haha, bloody hell mate, been a bit of a scorcher has it?" because to do this is to incur the full force of Roy Keane’s wrath, a wrath which has never been unleashed to its fullest, because to be honest you just fucking know not to say anything about Roy Keane's sunburn from his whole never smiling thing, don't you?


Anyway, it is for this reason that I love Roy Keane and find his Dad On Holiday Get the Fucking Towel Out On the Sun Lounger at 7AM So I Can Read My Sports Biographies in PEACE vibe to be one of my favourite vibes ever conceived of. Probably a bit of a pain in the arse on set though.


Screenshot via

Wrighty is easily the most stylish pundit on either channel, but his round glasses give me the strong impression that he wears a special home cardigan at home. Unfortunately, no matter how hard he tries, this behaviour alone marks him at about a 6/10 on the annoying scale.


Screenshot via

I want to give Rio Ferdinand so many hugs whenever I look at him, which is distracting and therefore quite annoying. Nothing you’ve done though Rio, babe.


Screenshot via

Alan Shearer seems absolutely lovely, but he is essentially the very definition of what I think of as a Football Dad (white shirt, couple of buttons undone, bald head, says the words "very unlucky" about different players about seven times a minute). What I mean by this is that Alan, despite having had a very illustrious footballing career, could pretty much just be any dad from anywhere across the country sitting behind the BBC desk having a vague opinion about a foul. Annoying for all license payers, really, but must be especially annoying for all the dads out there who are hungry for a shot at stardom and quite sure they could do a better job of complaining on the television for hours a week.



Screenshot via

If I wanted to know what a senior recruitment consultant thought about the football I would just ask one, do you know what I mean.


UPDATE 02/07/18: An earlier version of this article mistakenly said that Didier Drogba is French. He is in fact Ivorian.

See here for more coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.