Tag Archives: pundit

Matt Le Tissier makes Guernsey debut but he can"t stop them losing 4-2

Le Tissier makes Guernsey debut as legend returns to playing days… but 44-year-old can't can't stop them losing 4-2

By
Charlie Skillen

PUBLISHED:

22:52 GMT, 24 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

11:05 GMT, 25 April 2013

Matt Le Tissier made a return to his playing days by turning out for Guernsey, but was unable to stop his side losing 4-2 at Colliers Wood.

The Southampton legend, 44, came off the bench in the second half after signing playing forms at the club where he is honorary president, to help with their incredible fixture list which sees the club in the middle of 20 games in 36 days.

Matt Le Tissier

Fit for purpose: Matt Le Tissier

Fit for purpose: Matt Le Tissier was unable to prevent Guernsey FC losing at Colliers Wood on his debut

Still got it: Le Tissier was back in action at the tender age of 44 years old

Still got it: Le Tissier was back in action at the tender age of 44 years old

Still got it: Le Tissier

Still got it: Le Tissier

Rusty Le Tissier tries a trademark volley after chesting the ball down

It's the first time Le Tissier has played in an official game since 2002, when he retired after playing his entire career for the Saints.

Le Tissier made over 500 appearances in all competitions for the south-coast club, and won eight England caps.

Many fans feel he should have represented his country more times, having watched his incredible skills, passing and long-range screamers in the 1990s.

He is currently juggling turning out for Guernsey with being a pundit and co-commentator for Sky Sports.

Different class: Le Tissier wowed fans with his technique for Southampton throughout his 14 years at the club

Different class: Le Tissier wowed fans with his technique for Southampton throughout his 14 years at the club

Le Tissier

VIDEO Matt Le Tissier's finest Southampton moments

Roy Hodgson will "wait and see" if Rio Ferdinand has an international future after withdrawing from England squad for San Marino and…

Rio can do what he wants… but I can't guarantee he'll get another England invite, says Hodgson

By
Matt Barlow

PUBLISHED:

17:29 GMT, 21 March 2013

|

UPDATED:

18:01 GMT, 21 March 2013

England manager Roy Hodgson has said he will 'wait and see' if Rio Ferdinand has an international future following the United defender's decision to withdraw from the national squad this week.

Hodgson's side take on San Marino on Friday with a depleted defence after Ferdinand withdrew from the squad to look after his chronic back problem.

But Ferdinand
sparked fresh controversy as Sportsmail exclusively revealed that the
Manchester United defender will fly to Qatar to work on a television
broadcast of Friday’s World Cup qualifier.

Waving goodbye Roy Hodgson said he will 'wait and see' if Rio Ferdinand has an international future

Waving goodbye Roy Hodgson said he will 'wait and see' if Rio Ferdinand has an international future

Unhappy: Hodgson is disappointed that Ferdinand is not with the England team

Unhappy: Hodgson is disappointed that Ferdinand is not with the England team

When pushed on Ferdinand's future as
an England player, Hodgson said: 'I think we should just wait and see, I
think it's more a question of how his injury situation will impact upon
him playing for England, so we'll have to wait and see what happens in
the future.

'At the moment it's speculation about
a longer-term future whereas my focus is on these next two games, which
are important for us in our bid to qualify. I am happy with the squad
we've got.'

Hodgson deflected questions on what he thought of Ferdinand's decision to miss the two World Cup qualifiers.

He said: 'I don't have any serious
thoughts on it. I was disappointed when he couldn't accept our
invitation. It would have been nice to have him here.'

Double header: England take on San Marion on Friday night before facing Montenegro next week

Double header: England take on San Marion on Friday night before facing Montenegro next week

Hodgson also refused to comment on Ferdinand's decision to embark on a 15-hour round trip to Doha to work as a TV pundit.

'As we all know he wasn't able to
accept the invitation so what he actually does now and how he operates
in the coming couple of weeks, that's his business and the club's
business.

'You're asking me questions that I
really don't want to go into. It really shows a lack of respect to some
extent for the players who are here,' he said.

'In this instance Rio made it clear
that he wasn't able to accept my invitation on this occasion and we will
see what happens in the future.

'What happens during this period of
time when he's looking after himself, it's up to us to look after
ourselves and do the job we've got to do in these next two matches.'

Plane stupid: Ferdinand pulled out of the England squad before agreeing to work as a TV pundit in Qatar

Plane stupid: Ferdinand pulled out of the England squad before agreeing to work as a TV pundit in Qatar

Hodgson also dismissed suggestions that Michael Carrick could step in at centre back to solve England's defensive crisis.

The England boss said: 'To accept that I would have to
accept we have problems in central defence. I think we have four very
good central defenders here.

'As far as I’m concerned I would be
loathed to start using people like Michael Carrick who has been selected
for his prowess as a midfield player.

'It would be harsh on those who have been selected as central defenders.'

Not interested: Captain Steven Gerrard is not dwelling on Ferdinand's withdrawal

Not interested: Captain Steven Gerrard is not dwelling on Ferdinand's withdrawal

England captain Steven Gerrard
believes the team have trained well without Ferdinand and is not
dwelling on the United defender's absence.

He said: 'I don't think it's for me to comment. That's something for the manager to deal with to be honest. I just look at the players in the squad and worry about them players really.

'Of course it's disappointing Rio's not here, because he's a fantastic player and he's in top form, and it would've been nice for him to be here, but he's not, we move on without him and training's been really good.'

Asked if England can cope without Ferdinand, Gerrard said: 'Yes I do, certainly on the evidence I've seen in training the last few days.

'Repeating what the manager said, the four guys have been working hard and training well and they are all pushing for places.

'I'm confident that they can not only do the job tomorrow but on Tuesday night as well.'

Brian Laudrup set for Rangers return

He's back! Rangers legend Laudrup lined up for role at Ibrox after talks with Green

By
John Mcgarry

PUBLISHED:

01:19 GMT, 29 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

02:41 GMT, 29 January 2013

Rangers legend Brian Laudrup is poised to return to the club in an ambassadorial capacity.

The Dane, who helped take Rangers to three league titles in the mid-1990s, arrived in Glasgow on Monday for talks on the proposed role with chief executive Charles Green.

And the former winger, who won 82 caps for his country, is prepared to give something back to the club after watching it endure the most tumultuous year in its history.

'Since Rangers went into these chaotic circumstances, I have said all along that, if I could help the club in any way, I would,' he told Rangers TV.

Hero: Laudrup is set to rejoin Rangers as a club ambassador

Hero: Laudrup is set to rejoin Rangers as a club ambassador

Legend: Laudrup in action for Rangers back in the day

Legend: Laudrup in action for Rangers back in the day

'I've been here today to speak to
Charles a little bit and we'll see if we can find a way for me to do
that. 'To be able to be an ambassador for Rangers Football Club would be
absolutely fantastic and we want to see if we can find a way to work
together.

'If the club
wants me to help – and it looks like it does – I would love to do it. I
have always said I had four tremendous years at Rangers.

'The
issue at the moment is to find a way in which I can help and it has
been fantastic to meet Charles. 'He is a fantastic man to speak to and
he has a great vision for this club. Now we just have to sit down at
some point and formalise things so that we can work together. That would
be great.'

Laudrup, 43, now spreads his time between working as a televsion pundit in Denmark and his academy. A 2.3million buy by Walter Smith from Fiorentina in 1994, he is regarded as one of the finest players to have worn a Rangers jersey.

Smith has also returned to the club recently in a non-executive director capacity.

In the meantime, the independent commission set up by the SPL to investigate alleged dual contracts at Rangers begins today.

Lord Nimmo Smith is joined by Nicholas Stewart and Charles Flint, both QCs, in considering whether the Ibrox club breached SPL rules through their operation of an Employee Benefit Trust scheme.

Talks: Laudrup flew in for discussions with Charles Green on Monday

Talks: Laudrup flew in for discussions with Charles Green on Monday

Four days have been set aside for the hearing, although it is not known when a verdict will be delivered. If Rangers are found guilty, then a stripping of SPL league titles won during the period in question is among the potential punishments that the commission could recommend.

Ibrox chief executive Green is boycotting the process but the Rangers Fans Fighting Fund have pledged to fund a legal defence should trophies be threatened.

'There were allegations about a number of alleged breaches of SPL rules over a number of years,' said SPL chief executive Neil Doncaster. 'Those allegations are complicated.

'The SPL board decided that the right way to deal with those allegations was to appoint an independent commission to establish whether in fact SPL rules were broken or not.

'And, if they were, what punishment is appropriate – if any. That process will continue. I am not going to make any predictions about timescales.'

Kevin Keegan – The Footballers" Football Column: Luis Suarez needs to sort himself out, fans are desperate to worship the ground he walks on, not…

KEVIN KEEGAN: I don't like players kissing the badge – show you care by the way you play… Suarez needs to sort himself out, fans are desperate to worship the ground he walks on, not falls on

PUBLISHED:

09:45 GMT, 22 January 2013

|

UPDATED:

10:06 GMT, 22 January 2013

Kevin Keegan

Never ask Kevin Keegan to ‘show us yer medals’. The latest contributor to MailOnline's Footballers’ Football Column has been a champion in England, Germany and Europe as a player, a multi-promotion success as a manager, and belongs to the select band of men who bossed England. Now a pundit, he has always been game for a laugh, but he gets serious too, so watch out Fabricio Coloccini and Luis Suarez. But watch his video interview first; he was so candid we've had to post it in three parts…

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VIDEO INTERVIEW: Part II…

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With the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-finals coming up, I’ve been doing a spot of promotion work for the competition. It’s been a good laugh, a spoof Brut ad like I used to do with Henry Cooper.

These are nervous times for fans, with their teams so close to reaching Wembley and this is just a bit of fun.

I even wear a wig but it doesn’t look as good as that hair!

No-one remembers me for my goals but everyone remembers my hair, those Brut adverts, singing, and falling off my bike in Superstars.

VIDEO INTERVIEW: Part III…

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Talking of Superstars, I
was working abroad so I missed the 2012 version with the Olympic stars
but people told me about it. Yes, I came off the bike but what everyone
seems to forget is that I actually won the event.

Look now at the velodromes which have
been built. Well we were on racing bikes with ” tyres on a red shale
running track, so no wonder I didn’t stay on. It hurt, too. I had to
spend two days in hospital because I’d lost all the skin down my back.

Looking
back it was great fun. All sports people are competitive, I’m sure it
was the same for the recent one. Brian Jacks was unbelievable but in
many ways it was the beginning of the end when he came in because he was
a more professional Superstar while we were footballers who turned up
and made everyone laugh by tipping over our canoes.

Scroll down for more video…

Pair of brutes: Kevin Keegan (right) larks about with British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper to promote men's aftershave Brut in 1980

Pair of brutes: Kevin Keegan (right) larks about with British heavyweight champion Henry Cooper to promote men's aftershave Brut in 1980

Iconic crash: Keegan falls in spectacular fashion on Superstars after clipping the rear wheel of Gilbert Van Binst bike

Iconic crash: Keegan falls in spectacular fashion on Superstars after clipping the rear wheel of Gilbert van Binst's bike

VIDEO: Keegan's Superstars fall. Ouch…

I spend a lot of time working abroad now. My work with ESPN will come to an end this year when they lose the rights but it’s been a fantastic four years and I’ve really enjoyed it. The Premier League is massive all over the world.

Last week I was in Norway covering the games and before that I was working in Malaysia. Everyone follows the Premier League and in Malaysia they have to get up at one or two in the morning to do it – it was quite strange walking out of a TV studio at six in the morning. It was very different as far as my body clock was concerned.

Kevin Keegan (pictured) launched an astonishing attack last night on Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson for suggesting rivals might make it easy for Newcastle to win the title.

Kevin Keegan Newcastle manager

I'll just love it: Keegan loses the plot as Newcastle manager in 1996

Wantaway Newcastle United's captain Fabricio Coloccini in action during the 2-1 loss to Reading on Saturday

Wantaway Newcastle United's captain Fabricio Coloccini in action during the 2-1 loss to Reading on Saturday

VIDEO: Keegan's famous – and brilliant outburst in 1996…

More from The Footballers' Column…

RAHEEM STERLING: I get kicked a lot – it's annoying trying to sleep with your legs in pieces… Ivanovic is the scariest man I've played against but he's not dirty, he's a tank
18/01/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Richard Lee: I should've been a striker… you can be dreadful but bang in the winner and be hailed a hero, says the goalkeeper who is allergic to goalkeeping gloves
18/01/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Curtis Davies: Why I don't regret describing myself as a pub player… and how West Brom made me out to be the bad guy
17/01/13

CRAIG LINDFIELD: I meet at a Little Chef for a lift, have breakfast in a pub and then watch a team-mate do a 'Klinsmann' through a freezing puddle in his underwear!
15/01/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Joe Hart: We go into every game thinking a draw is not a good enough result for us… And I'd have both RVP and Rooney up front in my all-Premier League team
11/01/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Kevin Nolan: Sometimes I wish I was Ryan Giggs… But if I scored with my elbow to knock United out of the cup, there's no way I'd tell the referee
11/01/13

The Footballers' Football Column – Jill Scott: I get called Crouchie because I did the robot when I scored on debut… People thought women can’t play football but the Olympics has changed all that
10/01/13

FRANK McPARLAND: What does it take to be a Liverpool player Personality… We had one German lad who said: 'I've had a look at my wage slip and I want to opt out of this tax thing!'
08/01/13

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

People ask me whether I am now finished with management. You can never say never. I have been offered four or five jobs since I left Newcastle in such terrible circumstances but none was right for me.

The only way I would come back is if I could see myself as part of the vision, which is far more important than financial reasons.

Newcastle was a pull to me. I’d played there and my father came from there.

It’s got to be something more than money. But I’ve listened to the job offers and thought that the dreams I was being sold could not match reality..

Talking of Newcastle, I have read reports that Fabricio Coloccini wants to leave although I don’t know the reasons.

If it’s a health issue, either to himself or a member of his family, then that would put a different light on it because football is not more important than life.

But if it is for another reason, then what message does that send out to the other players if he is allowed to go

I bought Coloccini, along with Jonas Gutierrez, in 2008 and he only signed a four-year contract last season. He’s a key player, the captain, and his departure would be a blow.

There is a danger that other good players in the team, like Yohan Cabaye, Hatem Ben Arfa, and Cheick Tiote could start to think ‘Why should we stay then’

Another player from one of my former clubs has been in the news. Luis Suarez wears my old No 7 shirt at Liverpool and the fans are desperate to worship the ground he walks on, not falls on.

He’s a very good player and has been excellent this season but he gets involved in far too many controversial incidents.

When you are a manager of an English
club and your foreign players go home you just wait for something to
come out.

Players relax and think that, as they are in Argentina or
Spain or wherever, that their words are not coming back because they
weren’t speaking English.

So
Suarez admits he dived against Stoke. I remember the game and I don’t
think there was anyone in the world who thought he did anything but
dive. But what he does is put the club into a difficult position.

Brendan
Rodgers has no choice but to discipline one of his players and it’s all
about Suarez for non-footballing reasons. He needs to sort that side
out as he is an exceptional player.

Kapow! Keegan, Liverpool's iconic No 7, clashes with legendary Leeds captain Billy Bremner during the 1974 Charity Shield at Wembley

Kapow! Keegan, Liverpool's iconic No 7, clashes with legendary Leeds captain Billy Bremner during the 1974 Charity Shield at Wembley

Come in No 7: Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez celebrates scoring in Saturday's 5-0 rout of Norwich

Come in No 7: Liverpool's Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez celebrates scoring in Saturday's 5-0 rout of Norwich

CAPITAL ONE CUP

To join the debate around the semi-finals of the Capital One
Cup, visit: facebook.com/CapitalOneUK

I wasn’t able to go to the FA’s 150th anniversary celebration although 150 is something to celebrate.

One of the things that I hope is addressed in the future is the number of football people at the FA. There are many more administrators and that’s wrong. Sir Trevor Brooking does us proud but there should be more like him, more of a mix.

A professional footballer can always become an administrator but it doesn’t work the other way round.

Old pals: Keegan sports a basque beret as he jokes with Sir Trevor Brooking while on England duty at the 1982 World Cup in Bilbao

Old pals: Keegan sports a basque beret as he jokes with Sir Trevor Brooking while on England duty at the 1982 World Cup in Bilbao

Gary Neville behind the scenes at Sky Sports Monday Night Football

MNF star Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes of the TV show making fans fall in love with punditry again

|

UPDATED:

11:04 GMT, 19 December 2012

It is 4.30pm and although Gary Neville is midway through rehearsals for that evening’s Monday Night Football, he is still going through his first item in painstaking detail. Things have to be right and he is unapologetically demanding and meticulous in his preparation.

‘What do we think about this’ the former Manchester United full back asks producer Scott Melvin, as a chart flashes up on his touch screen. ‘I don’t think that’s good enough.’ He is over-ruled. ‘Fine,’ he says, but his arms are folded — it is clearly not fine.

‘Are we comfortable with that colour on this graphic’ is the next question. ‘It’s disgusting,’ Neville continues, without waiting for a reply. ‘I’m not a colours man but… can’t you change it’ It is duly changed.

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Neville has been at Sky’s studios in
west London since 9.30am, but he is still like a man on fast-forward,
running ‘at 100 miles per hour’.

His intensity, willingness to work
hard and genuine vigour for his sport are startling. It seems the same
qualities that characterised him as a footballer are the ones that mark
him out as a pundit.

‘This is different to football,’ says
the 37-year-old, ‘but there is pressure — and I think that’s the thing
that keeps me excited and stimulated. It’s got to be right.

‘I think information and the detail
are the most important things for me. Nice goals or a lovely finish or
an incident, that will get done a thousand times by everybody else and
there isn’t really much more you can say.

‘I prefer information. I try to do it as if I was looking at it as a player or a coach rather than as entertainment.

‘I don’t think, really, I’m a perfect
broadcaster by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s more around
the information for me. That’s all I can do. If you want a pretty face
or a nice voice then don’t come here.’

Ed Chamberlin, the host of MNF, laughs. ‘Well, I won’t argue with that,’ he says.

The pair have been working together
for barely 18 months but have taken the format made famous by Richard
Keys and Andy Gray and made it their own.

There is little ego or arrogance about
Chamberlin, who works without an autocue and fully understands his role
is to ensure Neville is the star of the show.

The presenter continually tries to
tease extra insight and information out of a right back who won 85 caps
for England, constantly asking ‘why’ and ‘how’, which seems to amuse and
frustrate Neville on alternate occasions.

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

NEVILLE'S MANIC MONDAY

9.30am Arrive at Sky’s studios in west London.

10am Production meeting. Neville has been feeding ideas to the production team since the previous Wednesday. They discuss what he wants to talk about and the order the pieces should run.

11.30am Neville goes through all the video clips, while Ed Chamberlin studies the running order and familiarises himself with all the links and music.

2pm Lunch.

3pm Rehearsals start on set.

6pm Make-up.

7pm On air. An hour of analysis from the weekend’s games and to preview that night’s Barclays Premier League fixture. Also includes interviews with the managers, live from the ground.

8pm Kick-off.

8.45pm Half-time analysis.

9pm Second half.

9.45pm Full-time analysis, a look back at the weekend’s goals and a Twitter Q&A.

11pm Off air.

‘Ed doesn’t offer opinions on
football,’ says Melvin. ‘It’s different with (Match of the Day
presenter) Gary Lineker. He was a footballer and you would never
begrudge him an opinion.

'But, for me, the presenter’s job is
to probe the guys who have played football. Ed drives it and keeps it
on the rails because otherwise, God knows what would happen.’

It is no mean feat keeping Neville in
check, that’s for sure. He revels in his Aladdin’s cave of touch-screen
boards, slow-motion clips, high camera angles, statistics and league
tables.

The former England defender even had a
screen installed in his Manchester home for nine days to practise
before he started at Sky, only to go bonkers when he found out they had
updated the technology when he arrived in London.

‘I’m obsessed with charts,’ Neville
says, laughing at the nerdy nature of his words. ‘I’ll say, “Make me a
chart, make me a chart”. They argue I don’t need one, just to say it,
but I want everyone at home to know those statistics are there.

‘Every time I do a piece I don’t just
get the clips, I get the statistics. I want statistics to back it up,
so it’s not just my instinct. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking,
“Arsenal are rubbish”. But where are they rubbish Why They can’t be
all rubbish, or all good.

‘You’ve got to offer some perspective. Everything’s so sudden, everyone’s always screaming.

‘I think that’s what people inside
football do better than people in the media because in the media there’s
a need to make everything so dramatic. But, inside football, you
analyse it. You look at it bit by bit and think that’s OK, that’s not
bad, rather than everything being bad or good.’

Neville’s proximity to the game, however, could easily compromise his willingness to say what he sees and how he feels.

He spent all his career at Manchester
United and has a four-year contract with the FA to work under Roy
Hodgson and coach the England senior team, after all.

Gary Neville gets ready for Monday Night Football

Gary Neville gets made up on Monday Night Football

Finishing touches: Neville is still new to football punditry but is brilliantly professional in his preparation

But as Neville watches Arsenal’s 5-2
win at Reading — from a ‘big, wide high camera angle’ because ‘that’s
the only way you can analyse it properly, you can’t watch the ball’ —
there is only a flicker of his allegiance to the national side. When
Jack Wilshere crumples to the ground in the build-up to Reading’s first
goal, Neville suddenly becomes even more animated.

‘Oh! Oh!’ he cries. ‘Wilshere’s done
his knee ligaments. Oh no. Or is it his groin Oh dear.’ Then, ‘Oh,
phew, he’s OK. What price 5-4 Reading now’

Neville’s affiliations make him more
accountable than most but he insists he remains deliberately detached
from the insular, pally world of football.

His reasoning is as clear as the
straightforward manner in which he is able to talk through a set-piece
or analyse the build-up to a goal: you cannot criticise someone on live
television one day and go for a pint with them the next.

‘I don’t speak to too many people,’
he says. ‘I think if you speak to too many people you become friendly
with them and it might not be as honest an assessment.

‘You get to know people — “All right,
how are you mate” — and a week later they think you’re stitching them
up. Don’t get too close. I do know people but I spent my life at one
club.

‘People at the start, understandably,
were asking how it would work, but I think I’ve been as honest as I
can be about United games and most people seem to have accepted the fact
that I’ve praised or criticised their team.

‘I think fans are pretty honest. They
don’t want rubbish. If their team play well they know they’ve played
well. If they haven’t, they know that, too. You try to show why or how
because they know the rest themselves. You’re always looking for the
most interesting bits. Less fluff, more gruff.’

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

The enjoyment Neville derives from his
new role is obvious, even if he can barely contain his energy, pacing
up and down during advertising breaks and badgering the producer with
ideas as early as the Wednesday before a show.

This opportunity to have the last
word on the weekend’s action is, after all, both the programme’s
strength and its continual challenge — how do you be significantly
different from what has gone before, on television and social media
and in the newspapers

Neville consumes information from all these outlets but still has to offer new insight on a Monday night.

As you can probably imagine, he is not
short of ideas, although the transition from player to pundit has not
been as straight-forward as you might think.

‘The more I relax, the more I become a
little lighthearted,’ says Neville. ‘But on the first show last year, I
was 100 miles per hour. I was like a train with no brakes. I used to
get an incredibly dry mouth because I was so nervous. I’ve not done
anything like this before in my life.

‘And my hands! Oh my hands. That was a
massive problem. What do you do with them when you’re standing at the
touchscreen Now I carry my pen with me because you’ve got something to
focus on.

‘I was everywhere — my hands were
terrible. I got a lot of feedback: hands and my hair, which is a
continual challenge — I’ve just given up on that.’

Giving up That must be a first for Neville, surely.

Sky Sports is the home of football
with more than 500 live matches every season including Barclays Premier
League, UEFA Champions League, internationals, the npower Football
League and more.

EXCLUSIVE: Gary Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes at Monday Night Football

MNF star Neville takes Sportsmail behind the scenes of the TV show making fans fall in love with punditry again

|

UPDATED:

23:31 GMT, 18 December 2012

It is 4.30pm and although Gary Neville is midway through rehearsals for that evening’s Monday Night Football, he is still going through his first item in painstaking detail. Things have to be right and he is unapologetically demanding and meticulous in his preparation.

‘What do we think about this’ the former Manchester United full back asks producer Scott Melvin, as a chart flashes up on his touch screen. ‘I don’t think that’s good enough.’ He is over-ruled. ‘Fine,’ he says, but his arms are folded — it is clearly not fine.

‘Are we comfortable with that colour on this graphic’ is the next question. ‘It’s disgusting,’ Neville continues, without waiting for a reply. ‘I’m not a colours man but… can’t you change it’ It is duly changed.

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Oh what a night: Sportsmail's Laura Williamson joined Gary Neville and Ed Chamberlain in the Sky studio to see how the hugely popular Monday Night Football has become such a big hit

Neville has been at Sky’s studios in
west London since 9.30am, but he is still like a man on fast-forward,
running ‘at 100 miles per hour’.

His intensity, willingness to work
hard and genuine vigour for his sport are startling. It seems the same
qualities that characterised him as a footballer are the ones that mark
him out as a pundit.

‘This is different to football,’ says
the 37-year-old, ‘but there is pressure — and I think that’s the thing
that keeps me excited and stimulated. It’s got to be right.

‘I think information and the detail
are the most important things for me. Nice goals or a lovely finish or
an incident, that will get done a thousand times by everybody else and
there isn’t really much more you can say.

‘I prefer information. I try to do it as if I was looking at it as a player or a coach rather than as entertainment.

‘I don’t think, really, I’m a perfect
broadcaster by any stretch of the imagination. I think it’s more around
the information for me. That’s all I can do. If you want a pretty face
or a nice voice then don’t come here.’

Ed Chamberlin, the host of MNF, laughs. ‘Well, I won’t argue with that,’ he says.

The pair have been working together
for barely 18 months but have taken the format made famous by Richard
Key and Andy Gray and made it their own.

There is little ego or arrogance about
Chamberlin, who works without an autocue and fully understands his role
is to ensure Neville is the star of the show.

The presenter continually tries to
tease extra insight and information out of a right back who won 85 caps
for England, constantly asking ‘why’ and ‘how’, which seems to amuse and
frustrate Neville on alternate occasions.

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

Practice makes perfect: Chamberlain and Neville can be in the studio from 9.30am on the day of the game

NEVILLE'S MANIC MONDAY

9.30am Arrive at Sky’s studios in west London.

10am Production meeting. Neville has been feeding ideas to the production team since the previous Wednesday. They discuss what he wants to talk about and the order the pieces should run.

11.30am Neville goes through all the video clips, while Ed Chamberlin studies the running order and familiarises himself with all the links and music.

2pm Lunch.

3pm Rehearsals start on set.

6pm Make-up.

7pm On air. An hour of analysis from the weekend’s games and to preview that night’s Barclays Premier League fixture. Also includes interviews with the managers, live from the ground.

8pm Kick-off.

8.45pm Half-time analysis.

9pm Second half.

9.45pm Full-time analysis, a look back at the weekend’s goals and a Twitter Q&A.

11pm Off air.

‘Ed doesn’t offer opinions on
football,’ says Melvin. ‘It’s different with (Match of the Day
presenter) Gary Lineker. He was a footballer and you would never
begrudge him an opinion.

'But, for me, the presenter’s job is
to probe the guys who have played football. Ed drives it and keeps it
on the rails because otherwise, God knows what would happen.’

It is no mean feat keeping Neville in
check, that’s for sure. He revels in his Aladdin’s cave of touch-screen
boards, slow-motion clips, high camera angles, statistics and league
tables.

The former England defender even had a
screen installed in his Manchester home for nine days to practise
before he started at Sky, only to go bonkers when he found out they had
updated the technology when he arrived in London.

‘I’m obsessed with charts,’ Neville
says, laughing at the nerdy nature of his words. ‘I’ll say, “Make me a
chart, make me a chart”. They argue I don’t need one, just to say it,
but I want everyone at home to know those statistics are there.

‘Every time I do a piece I don’t just
get the clips, I get the statistics. I want statistics to back it up,
so it’s not just my instinct. It’s easy to get caught up in thinking,
“Arsenal are rubbish”. But where are they rubbish Why They can’t be
all rubbish, or all good.

‘You’ve got to offer some perspective. Everything’s so sudden, everyone’s always screaming.

‘I think that’s what people inside
football do better than people in the media because in the media there’s
a need to make everything so dramatic. But, inside football, you
analyse it. You look at it bit by bit and think that’s OK, that’s not
bad, rather than everything being bad or good.’

Neville’s proximity to the game, however, could easily compromise his willingness to say what he sees and how he feels.

He spent all his career at Manchester
United and has a four-year contract with the FA to work under Roy
Hodgson and coach the England senior team, after all.

Gary Neville gets ready for Monday Night Football

Gary Neville gets made up on Monday Night Football

Finishing touches: Neville is still new to football punditry but is brilliantly professional in his preparation

But as Neville watches Arsenal’s 5-2
win at Reading — from a ‘big, wide high camera angle’ because ‘that’s
the only way you can analyse it properly, you can’t watch the ball’ —
there is only a flicker of his allegiance to the national side. When
Jack Wilshere crumples to the ground in the build-up to Reading’s first
goal, Neville suddenly becomes even more animated.

‘Oh! Oh!’ he cries. ‘Wilshere’s done
his knee ligaments. Oh no. Or is it his groin Oh dear.’ Then, ‘Oh,
phew, he’s OK. What price 5-4 Reading now’

Neville’s affiliations make him more
accountable than most but he insists he remains deliberately detached
from the insular, pally world of football.

His reasoning is as clear as the
straightforward manner in which he is able to talk through a set-piece
or analyse the build-up to a goal: you cannot criticise someone on live
television one day and go for a pint with them the next.

‘I don’t speak to too many people,’
he says. ‘I think if you speak to too many people you become friendly
with them and it might not be as honest an assessment.

‘You get to know people — “All right,
how are you mate” — and a week later they think you’re stitching them
up. Don’t get too close. I do know people but I spent my life at one
club.

‘People at the start, understandably,
were asking how it would work, but I think I’ve been as honest as I
can be about United games and most people seem to have accepted the fact
that I’ve praised or criticised their team.

‘I think fans are pretty honest. They
don’t want rubbish. If their team play well they know they’ve played
well. If they haven’t, they know that, too. You try to show why or how
because they know the rest themselves. You’re always looking for the
most interesting bits. Less fluff, more gruff.’

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

And they're off: The show has received rave reviews this season thanks to Neville's expert analysis

The enjoyment Neville derives from his
new role is obvious, even if he can barely contain his energy, pacing
up and down during advertising breaks and badgering the producer with
ideas as early as the Wednesday before a show.

This opportunity to have the last
word on the weekend’s action is, after all, both the programme’s
strength and its continual challenge — how do you be significantly
different from what has gone before, on television and social media
and in the newspapers

Neville consumes information from all these outlets but still has to offer new insight on a Monday night.

As you can probably imagine, he is not
short of ideas, although the transition from player to pundit has not
been as straight-forward as you might think.

‘The more I relax, the more I become a
little lighthearted,’ says Neville. ‘But on the first show last year, I
was 100 miles per hour. I was like a train with no brakes. I used to
get an incredibly dry mouth because I was so nervous. I’ve not done
anything like this before in my life.

‘And my hands! Oh my hands. That was a
massive problem. What do you do with them when you’re standing at the
touchscreen Now I carry my pen with me because you’ve got something to
focus on.

‘I was everywhere — my hands were
terrible. I got a lot of feedback: hands and my hair, which is a
continual challenge — I’ve just given up on that.’

Giving up That must be a first for Neville, surely.

Sky Sports is the home of football
with more than 500 live matches every season including Barclays Premier
League, UEFA Champions League, internationals, the npower Football
League and more.

Chelsea star Eden Hazard caught up in anti-Israel riddle – Charles Sale

Chelsea forward Hazard the victim of anti-Israel riddle

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 10 December 2012

Chelsea, whose season has been overshadowed by the John Terry and Mark Clattenburg racism issues, have been caught up in another sensitive controversy involving Eden Hazard's political views.

The Belgium forward was alleged to have put his signature to a statement signed by 62 footballers protesting against Israel hosting the European Under 21 Championship next year.

The pro-Palestine petition claims Israel staging the tournament following their military offensive in Gaza will be 'seen as a reward for actions that are contrary to sporting values'.

Accusation: Hazard was alleged to have put his name to a statement signed by 62 footballers

Accusation: Hazard was alleged to have put his name to a statement signed by 62 footballers

More from Charles Sale …

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07/12/12

Wembley put forward for Euro 2020 final after UEFA confirm championship will be played all over the continent
06/12/12

West Ham win fight for 429m Olympic Stadium after three-year battle for arena

05/12/12

Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis, Usain Bolt and now… Carlton Cole! West Ham win the race for keys to Olympic Stadium
05/12/12

Charles Sale: Another distraction for absent Arsenal owner Kroenke
04/12/12

And the winner is… will West Ham finally be handed the keys to Olympic Park
04/12/12

Charles Sale: NextGen creator linked with Albion as West Brom seek to replace Ashworth
03/12/12

Live in the sky (and at sea): Premier League strike TV deal to screen matches on aeroplanes and boats
03/12/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Hazard's believed involvement in the protest led to 81 of Chelsea's Jewish supporters, including a number of high-profile lawyers, putting their names on an email to the club's chief executive Ron Gourlay outlining their concern.

The letter, copied to FA chairman David Bernstein, said it was inappropriate for Hazard to use his platform as a Chelsea footballer to air such sensitive political opinions and that he should apologise for the offence caused to some of the club's supporters.

However, it emerged yesterday that Hazard had not contributed to the petition. His agent John Bico said: 'Eden never speaks about his political opinions and he certainly never signed anything.'

Former Chelsea star Didier Drogba had earlier strongly denied endorsing UEFA stripping Israel of the tournament.

Drogba had been one of the marquee players listed along with Hazard as having done so on the website of former Tottenham striker Frederic Kanoute.

Strange choice of words

Considering the FA have always been so concerned about leaks coming out of Wembley, the wording of the advertisement for the new independent chairman to replace David Bernstein is surprising.

It states that the appointee is expected to be an ambassador for the FA and football, ensuring the organisation promotes exemplary corporate governance and 'transparency'.

Crerand set for 5 Live stay

BBC 5 Live intend to keep using football pundit Paddy Crerand, a former Manchester United player and enthusiastic flag-waver for the club, as an occasional contributor despite his astonishing rant on the breakfast show yesterday.

Anger: Former United star Crerand lost his temper on BBC 5 Live

Anger: Former United star Crerand lost his temper on BBC 5 Live

Crerand lost his temper at being asked about players celebrating in front of opposition fans. BBC 5 Live say they have no issue with the way the emotional Crerand expressed his views.

Henderson all smiles

Top racehorse trainer Nicky Henderson was in celebratory mode even before Sprinter Sacre's hugely impressive victory in Sandown's Tingle Creek Chase.

Henderson poured himself a large glass of red wine in the royal box at Sandown even as the six-year-old cantered to the start of the two-mile chase.

Celebration: Henderson poured himself a large glass of red in the royal box

Celebration: Henderson poured himself a large glass of red in the royal box

There was relief at the Jockey Club, meanwhile, after two races over the modified Grand National fences at Aintree saw no casualties.

The racecourse owners are looking for a 2million-a-year sponsor of the National to replace John Smith's, with the last resort being a bookmaker partner. Any deaths over the Liverpool jumps at the weekend would have made that very difficult to attain.

Usmanov foiled again

Arsenal shareholder Alisher Usmanov, ridiculously, may not be able to gain a seat on the board despite his 29.9 per cent holding.

But he has just been re-elected as president of the International Fencing Federation for another four years. Billionaire Usmanov's fencing objectives for his second term include 'provision of financial support to current sportspeople', which is exactly what a lot of Arsenal fans would like him to have the opportunity to do at the Emirates Stadium.

Talks in place over FFP

An extra Premier League chairmen's meeting has been arranged for next Tuesday in the hope of agreeing a strategy regarding financial fair-play regulations before the January transfer window.

However, such is the gulf between Arsenal, Manchester United, Tottenham and Sunderland – who are strongly in favour of FFP – and Manchester City, West Brom, Fulham and Aston Villa, who are just as adamantly opposed, that gaining the required support of 14 clubs before Christmas is unlikely.

Alan Shearer: Sunderland boss Martin O"Neill has one game to save his job

Lose to Reading and it could be the end for Sunderland boss O'Neill, says Toon hero Shearer

|

UPDATED:

12:11 GMT, 10 December 2012

Alan Shearer believes Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill has one last game to save his job.

The former Newcastle legend turned BBC pundit says the visit of Reading on Tuesday night in the Barclays Premier League will be crucial to O’Neill’s survival.

Sunderland have lost five of their last seven Premier League matches while O’Neill’s side have won only one of their last 11 league fixtures at the Stadium of Light.

Under pressure: Martin O'Neill watched his Sunderland side slump to defeat at home to Chelsea at the weekend

Under pressure: Martin O'Neill watched his Sunderland side slump to defeat at home to Chelsea at the weekend (below)

Spot of bother: Two goals from Chelsea's Fernando Torres helped see-off Sunderland at the Stadium of Light

Writing in his column in The Sun, Shearer said: ‘Martin O’Neill has faced some mighty games as a player and manager in his career. None, however, in his 12 months in charge at the Stadium of Light will be bigger than tomorrow night’s visit of Reading.

‘The fans have not turned but they are on the brink. If they don’t beat Reading at home tomorrow their patience will snap.

‘I hate to suggest people are facing the sack. But his next two games after tomorrow are Manchester United away then Southampton away.’

Making his point: Newcastle legend Alan Shearer believes O'Neill has one game to save his job at Sunderland

Making his point: Newcastle legend Alan Shearer believes O'Neill has one game to save his job at Sunderland

Sunderland have attempted only 46 shots on target in the Premier League this season; the fewest of all sides.

But there is hope — No side have kept fewer clean sheets in the Premier League this season than Reading.

Sean Fitzpatrick: New Zealand will beat England by 15 points

Twickenham's not a great hunting ground for All Blacks… but we'll win by 15 points

|

UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 30 November 2012

Twickenham hasn't always been fruitful for the ever-impressive All Blacks, but former New Zealand international and pundit Sean Fitzpatrick tells Sportsmail why his country will put Stuart Lancaster's England side to the sword.

Form so far

Good, but they need to win all four games on tour to be deemed a success back home.

That's the beauty of the All Blacks. We've beaten Scotland, Italy and Wales. Now for England.

Flair player: Dan Carter will hope to leave England's hopes of salvaging this series in tatters

Flair player: Dan Carter will hope to leave England's hopes of salvaging this series in tatters

High standards expected

Our mantra is to remember the losses more than the wins. I still recall losing to the 1993 Lions in Wellington. It was my worst game for the All Blacks.

We 'park' our victories pretty quickly.

I'm sure Richie McCaw will remember the pain of losing the 2007 World Cup quarter-final to France more than winning the final last year.

How good is this team

They have improved since winning the World Cup. They play a simple game and what they do, they do very well. They build unbelievable pressure and hardly make a mistake.

They have such strength that a good player becomes a very good player. Everyone does his job. Other than Dan Carter and McCaw, there are not many superstars – they are not showy.

Fearsome: Richie McCaw is ready to pick up another win over England

Fearsome: Richie McCaw is ready to pick up another win over England

Playing at Twickenham

It's not a great hunting ground – it's quite a difficult environment to play in and it's usually the last game.

All Blacks to look out for

No 8 Kieran Read, player of the year and the best No 8 in the world. He leads by example.

He's got the raw ability of a No 8 – big, fast and strong – a great work ethic and passion for the jersey.

He improves each week. No 15 Israel Dagg is the new Christan Cullen, a real talent improved from 12 months ago.

One to watch: Sean believes we should look out for Kieran Read (right)

One to watch: Sean believes we should look out for Kieran Read (right)

Any advice

England have to put the All Blacks under pressure for 80 minutes. They have to create space, take their chances and be hugely physical.

Basically, they need the game of their lives.

Prediction

The All Blacks to win by 10-15 points. But Twickenham is a difficult place to go to and the All Blacks will be wary.

*Sean Fitzpatrick is a rugby commentator for Sky Sports, who will show the men's and women's England-New Zealand games on Saturday as part of Sky's year-round rugby union coverage.

Sir Ian Botham in Twitter row with Stuart Broad: Don"t listen to ex-playing "experts"… But Beefy hits back with lusty blow

Botham's beef with Broad in Twitter row: Don't listen to ex-playing 'experts', warns Stuart… But Sir Ian (who averaged 55 in India) hits back with lusty blow

|

UPDATED:

12:09 GMT, 19 November 2012

Ian Botham and Stuart Broad became embroiled in a heated Twitter row as England crashed to a crushing nine-wicket defeat in India this morning.

Broad saved his fiercest delivery of the week for his tweet, posted in the aftermath of the loss in Ahmedabad, when he wrote: 'And before u listen to too many ex
playing 'experts' being negative, ask them if they ever won a Test
series in India….#28years'.

Botham came off his long run to deliver a speedy reposte, which read: '
'@StuartBroad8 Didn't average 40+ with the ball overseas…! Not sure
what I scored against India with the bat.. #justsaying'

Hitting out: Stuart Broad let rip on Twitter after England lost the first Test against India

Hitting out: Stuart Broad let rip on Twitter after England lost the first Test against India

England's greatest all-rounder
Botham, 56, who is working for Sky Sports as a pundit throughout the
series, hit 114 in the Golden Jubilee Test in Mumbai in 1980 and averaged 55 as England lost the six-Test series 1-0 in 1981-82.

Broad scored just three runs on
the final day as England collapsed and failed to take a single wicket in the entire Test.

Broad was candid enough to admit England's performance in the First Test was wanting. He tweeted: 'India outplayed us. A few positives but on the whole poor so sorry for that. Onwards and upwards.'

He then followed up that posting with the one challenging the 'ex-playing “experts”'.

Minutes later, the England t20 captain added another message to his Twitter feed, which read: 'On
DRS. I hear 12 decisions would have been overturned in the Test.
Potentially match changing but India would have had 8 of them
#itsneeded'

To the point: Broad did not hold back on Twitter after England lost the first Test

Response: Ian Botham let Broad know what he thinks
ENGLAND IN INDIA

Second Test
Mumbai, begins Friday (4.30am)

Third Test
Kolkata, December 5-9

Fourth Test
Nagpur, December 13-17

Botham was later challenged by one Twitter user who accused the former England captain of 'kicking' the defeated Broad while he 'was down'.

Botham posted: '@andrew14ad: @BeefyBotham @stuartbroad8 Ian should not kick a man when he is down me thinks!!” Who started the kicking..'

Meanwhile, England captain Alastair Cook took comfort from the character his side showed in the second innings despite having gone down to a nine-wicket defeat in the first Test against India in Ahmedabad.

The chances of a brave rearguard being commuted into a famous stalemate in this first match of four centred on Cook (176) and Matt Prior (91) on the final day.

But they could augment their combined defiance by only 16 more runs – and with their stand of 157 broken, England lost their last five wickets for only 50 in a lunchtime 406 all out.

India's resulting target of 77 was then treated with near contempt by Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara, whose aggression put paid to any fanciful notion that Graeme Swann's off-spin might yet make life difficult on a worn pitch.

Gearing up for a rumble: Ian Botham (left) and Shane Warne lark about last summer before the Second Test between England the West Indies (FILE IMAGE)

Gearing up for a rumble: Ian Botham (left) and Shane Warne lark about last summer before the Second Test between England the West Indies (FILE IMAGE)

Brave effort: Alastair Cook scored 176 in England's second innings

Brave effort: Alastair Cook scored 176 in England's second innings

India v England – Pictures

We are unable to carry live pictures from the First Test in Ahmedabad due to a dispute between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and international news organisations.

The BCCI has refused access to Test venues to established picture agencies Getty Images and Action Images and other Indian photographic agencies.

MailOnline consider this action to be a strike against press freedom and supports the action to boycott BCCI imagery.

Cook knew he and Prior had to remain at the crease if England were to pull off something special but he was pleased with his team's fight.

He said at the post-match presentation: 'There was an outside chance: Matty and I knew we would have to do the majority of the work. We got closer and closer and knew India had done a huge amount of overs in the field as well.

'That was the inspiration this morning. It wasn't meant to be. We didn't get that partnership going as we did last night.

'There was a lot of character showed by the lads. They fought hard.'

He added: 'It was a great fightback. We were in a very tough situation and to get to the last day there is always a glimmer of hope.

'It had to be something very special – unfortunately it wasn't meant to be today.

'We fought hard – we can take a lot from the second half of that game with the batting. We need to work hard so when we go to Mumbai we can start again.'

India counterpart MS Dhoni said: 'As the game progressed there was a bit of low bounce for spinners but not much turn so they had to work really hard – it was a fantastic effort by them.

'What was important was not to give many runs. A fantastic performance by the whole team.'

Pujara, who helped put India in a commanding position by scoring 206 not out in the first innings and then got the hosts over the line with an unbeaten second-innings knock of 41 today, was thrilled with his man-of-the-match display.

Digging in: Matt Prior weighed in with 91 runs as England tried to scrape a draw

Digging in: Matt Prior weighed in with 91 runs as England tried to scrape a draw

'It's a great feeling,' he said at the post-match presentation, televised on Sky Sports 1. 'I was out for almost a year because of the injury and since I've been back I've been enjoying the dressing-room atmosphere.

'The ball was hard and coming nicely onto the bat. I had a lot of confidence after scoring a double hundred.'

The 24-year-old also acknowledged the efforts of the India bowlers in dismissing England twice.

'I think initially (the pitch) was quite slow but as the game progressed the ball was coming nicely onto the bat,' he said.

'There was a bit of time when it was quite slow so it was difficult for the bowlers to get the wickets.

'I would like to congratulate our bowlers on the way they bowled and kept their patience to get them out twice.'