A Premier League team of Pundits

Sky’s latest signings

Gary NevilleJamie CarragherThierry Henry
After picking up Best Sports Presenter, Commentator or Pundit for the second year in a row in 2015, praise was heaped on Gary Neville following his departure from the Sky Sports pundit team in December 2015.

Speaking in 2011 following the news that Neville had joined Sky, Managing Director Barney Francis said, “Gary will bring vast experience at the top level of domestic and European football”. Somewhat four years later, speaking on behalf of Neville’s departure, Francis commented , “he will always be a friend of Sky Sports and the door will always be open should he wish to return”.

Neville was admired by friend and former Sky colleague Ed Chamberlin

Neville was admired by friend and former Sky colleague Ed Chamberlin

A risky move appointing Neville nonetheless. He was someone who divided opinion throughout his career and with no previous experience in analysing the game. But Neville quickly turned people’s opinions around as he became someone who people would tune into Monday Night Football to watch, regardless of who was playing, and Sky embraced this. Rather than have Monday Night Football as simply a preview of that particular night’s game, they evolved it into a discussion show that sought the invaluable opinion of Neville. His honesty was credited through his raw analysis, where people embraced his way of thinking. His unforced freedom of speech led him to become a natural pundit and he was greatly admired.

Sky Sports were quick to pip the signature of Carragher in after he announced he was to retire in 2013 from Premier League team Liverpool.

Carragher has established himself as a fine pundit for Sky Sports

Carragher has established himself as a fine pundit for Sky Sports

Just as ecstatic about the news as every other football fan, Carragher stated that year, “I don’t think there could be a better move for me to retire from one of the world’s best football clubs and then join one of the world’s best broadcasters.”

Since his arrival, Carragher has blossomed into a fine pundit whose opinion is respected and credible. The inclusion of Carragher on Monday Night Football had seen him and Neville develop an entertaining relationship fuelled with honesty, brutality and humour.

The success of the double-act tributes Sky’s masterful decision to appoint two of football’s fiercest rival players and join them together on one show. Speaking after Neville left Sky to become the Head Coach at Valencia, Carragher admitted “Mondays will not be the same”.

Neville had a special mention for colleagues Chamberlin & Carragher

Neville had a special mention for colleagues Chamberlin & Carragher

He added that they had become “firm friends thanks to our roles with Sky” and Neville even had a nice word to mention in his tweet in return.

Carragher’s expertise, knowledge and experience at the game’s highest level have been evident in his critical analysis in punditry thus far. In December 2015, he was recognised for his excellence by being named Pundit of the Year award by the Football Supporters’ Federation.

After the decision he was to bring an end to one of the most successful playing careers at the age of 37, it was announced in 2014 that Thierry Henry was to be the new face of Sky Sports. Henry signed the six-year deal that made him the best paid pundit in football after it was revealed he would be earning a staggering £4 million a year; nearly three times as much as much as Neville received during his time there.

Thierry Henry is the highest earning Pundit at Sky Sports at £4 million a year

But the idea of Thierry Henry as a pundit seems to be far more attractive than the reality. How has Thierry Henry, despite his intelligence, charm and supreme sporting status, turned himself into such a terrible TV pundit? A well-respected ex-professional with the knowledge and hunger for the job should usually be, the ultimate combination, right? But what we have learned from Henry so far is that, despite looking sharp in nice suits, he struggles to speak freely and clearly about players and seems afraid to alienate certain individuals to the same brutality Neville and Carragher did.

Sky’s new headline act was supposed to deliver much more than what his first season proved. But with criticism it always brings the possibility in change. And this year proves a big year for Henry. Now, with a full pre-season under his belt and having been at the forefront of the marketing campaign to launch new coverage of the 2015/16 season, it is vital that he rediscovers some of that BBC World Cup form that set him above the rest back in 2014. Check the Sky Sports marketing campaign featuring Henry here:

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