Former England manager Kevin Keegan has ‘a problem’ with ‘lady footballers’ as pundits

Oliver Harden
Former England manager Kevin Keegan.
Former England manager Kevin Keegan speaks on stage.

Kevin Keegan, the former England manager, has “a probem” with the rise of “lady footballers” acting as pundits on the men’s game, claiming there is little crossover between the sexes in football.

The likes of former Arsenal defender Alex Scott and Euro 2022 winner Jill Scott have emerged as authoritative voices on broadcasts of men’s matches over recent years, with the increase in diversity in television studios widely welcomed.

However, Keegan – who enjoyed a glittering playing career with Liverpool, Hamburg, Newcastle and Southampton before enjoying a short spell as England manager – isn’t a fan of “lady footballers” as pundits.

Appearing in front of an audience of 250 people in Bristol as part of his An Evening with Kevin Keegan OBE tour, the 72-year-old – who has not held a formal position in English football since resigning as Newcastle manager in 2008 – revealed his discomfort with the presence of female pundits at men’s matches.

He said: “I’m not as keen, I’ve got to be honest, and it may not be a view shared. I don’t like to listen to ladies talking about the England men’s team at the match because I don’t think it’s the same experience. I have a problem with that.

“The presenters we have now, some of the girls are so good, they are better than the guys. It’s a great time for the ladies.

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“But if I see an England lady footballer saying about England against Scotland at Wembley and she’s saying, ‘If I would have been in that position I would have done this,’ I don’t think it’s quite the same. I don’t think it crosses over that much.”

With the women’s game growing in popularity in England, fuelled by the national team’s Euro 2022 victory and their 2023 World Cup Final appearance against Spain, Keegan went on to admit that the standard caught him by surprise when he coached the women’s team during his spell as England manager.

“It is a great time for the ladies’ game,” he said. “When I was England manager, I went to coach the England ladies and I had this perception of what the quality would be like and they were so much better than I thought they were going to be.

“I joined in and then I thought, ‘I’m getting out of this.’ I couldn’t get the bloody ball and one of them nutmegged me, that finished me off.”

Keegan feels modern football pundits have lost the art of silence, but signalled out long-serving BBC presenter Gabby Logan – the daughter of former Leeds and Coventry midfielder Terry Yorath – for praise.

He explained: “I worked with Brian Moore, who was the best. At a World Cup Final he would say: ‘Kevin, don’t talk too much, let the pictures do the talking.’ A lot of the pundits now talk too much. Don’t keep talking, talking, talking.

“They don’t want people like us any more, our day is gone, it’s time for the next generation. There are some very, very good lady presenters and I’m working with one in two days’ time, Terry Yorath’s daughter Gabby.”

Keegan claimed he is now “very selective” when it comes to the football he watches on television, with his viewing limited to his former clubs.

Yet despite managing Manchester City for four years between 2001 and 2005, twice securing promotion to the Premier League, Keegan has been left disillusioned by the club’s style of play under Pep Guardiola.

He said: “There’s a lot of football on TV now, I’m very selective. I used to watch almost every match but now it’s just if it’s Newcastle or Liverpool, or Southampton to a lesser degree.

“I even find with Man City they are good but they can be quite boring to watch because of the pass, pass. I don’t think there is anything wrong with knocking a ball into the box. It’s not as exciting as it was.”