Sky’s latest signings
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”.
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.
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”.
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.
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: