Five reasons why Gary Lineker’s The Rest Is Football trumps Gary Neville’s Stick to Football

Lewis Oldham
Lineker trumps Neville
Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer's podcast is better than Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher's.

Every man and his dog have a podcast nowadays and wanting to avoid being left behind, footballing legends of yesteryear have gatecrashed the market this season to establish their respective brands as contenders consistently near the top of the charts each week.

First, we have ‘The Rest Is Football’, a podcast hosted by long-time Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker, alongside a sweary Alan Shearer and Micah Richards, who has perhaps burst onto the punditry scene in a more significant manner than he ever did as a footballer.

And then there’s ‘Stick to Football’ which comes under the umbrella of Gary Neville‘s ‘The Overlap’, which is also brought to you courtesy of Sky Bet… which is made abundantly clear by a certain shoehorned predictor feature on most podcast episodes.

Neville has gone big (or too far, depending on who you ask) with his guest lineup, as he appears alongside enemy-turned-friend Jamie Carragher, the no-filter Roy Keane, the lovable Ian Wright and cheeky Mackem Jill Scott.

Having listened to each podcast regularly throughout this season, I feel pretty well-qualified to pass judgment on which is better and for me, it is clearly The Rest Is Football. And here are five reasons why…


‘Three is A Magic Number’
The two podcasts have gone in different routes with their structure as on a normal episode not including guests, The Rest is Football (TRIF) has three regulars with Lineker, Shearer and Richards, while Stick to Football (STF) has five with Neville, Carragher, Keane, Wright and Scott.

Songsmith Bob Dorough told us in the early 1970s that ‘Three is A Magic Number’ (yes, as a writer in my mid-twenties, I did have to google who sang this song) and this is proven right in the realm of football podcasts.

With TRIF, each regular is afforded enough time to shine and show off their respective personalities/expertise wherever necessary. Yet with STF, it is often too busy and this often leads to each individual going under the radar, to the extent you forget they are even there at certain points.

Yes, each member of STF has something to offer and provides worth at different levels, but it feels somewhat forced to have such an overcrowded lineup and this issue becomes even more off-putting when there is an extra voice during guest episodes.


Having the preferred format
With football podcasts, you’d think there are limited avenues to go down with formats, but the two shows in question go about their coverage in very different ways.

For TRIF, their Monday episode is largely centred around the reaction to the previous weekend’s events. They also have a Q&A episode in midweek and the Friday release is left more open as it could be an interview or midweek football review.

As for STF, their episodes are more sporadic as there is usually just a single release per week. In a non-interview upload, they have an informal introduction (which ranges from funny to cringe depending on their mood) before delving into around five newsworthy topics. Later, they do the Neville vs Keane Super 6 predictor competition. Is there anything that ruins the flow of a podcast more than a forced ad placement? We think not.

On the TRIF, they are obviously serious when necessary, but the loose nature of the podcast allows for humour and the trio to bounce off each other as they often do to brilliant results. Their rivals meanwhile have gone too far the other way and while the podcast regulars single-handedly create some good moments, they are restrained by an – at times – overly serious set-up mixed in with the needless Super 6 feature.

READ MORE: Jamie Carragher exclusive on Lionel Messi… ‘The best player of all time’ didn’t show it against Liverpool


Finding the perfect blend with podcast regulars
By now, Lineker, Shearer and Richards have worked together for a good few years on podcasts and television. They know how each other tick, what will wind up their colleagues and what will make them break out in laughter.

Lineker, Shearer and Richards are not quite Top Gear’s Clarkson, May and Hammond just yet, but they have formed an extremely likeable trio and at a time when the world can be quite miserable, their infectious personalities offer some light.

However, they are not perfect by any means. It feels at times that they latch onto any excuse to compare modern situations to events during their careers – though, this does often result in good moments. It is also certainly a benefit that the trio are from different eras of football so together they have a wider breadth of knowledge.

As alluded to above, it feels like STF have had their names for the podcast in mind without thinking too much about how their personalities would blend into one unit. Really, separate podcasts with Neville/Carragher and Wright/Keane could work better rather than what we have now, which is too much sh*t being thrown at a wall with not the greatest results.


Range is good
Another benefit of TRIF is the range of coverage afforded to their listeners. Rather than having one longer show a week like STF, they have three 20-45 minute uploads within seven days.

Especially as each episode a week tends to be on a different topic, their shows often feel fresh and even with a more intense schedule, you don’t finish the week feeling that there’s been any resemblance of repetitiveness.

Podcast lovers do like consistency with the upload schedule and TRIF have a good thing going with their set-up, while STF puts all their eggs in one basket.

Maybe if STF didn’t have as many regulars to get in one room at once, they would be able to upload a bit more often and differentiate their content.

READ MORE: Gary Neville takes joint first in Johnny’s top 10 football pundits list


Having a wider spectrum of guests
Perhaps the biggest point of all is that TRIF’s past list of guests far outweighs their rivals and that is largely down to Neville’s Man Utd bias.

Of STF’s 11 guest episodes, five have involved former Man Utd players (David Beckham, Jaap Stam, Wayne Rooney, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Rio Ferdinand), two have been other ex-footballers (Frank Lampard and Les Ferdinand) and there have been four non-footballers… Eddie Hearn, Rory McIlroy (a Man Utd fan), Ronnie O’Sullivan and JJ Watt.

As for their superior rivals, their list of interviewees includes Thierry Henry, Virgil van Dijk, Conor Coady, Tom Lockyer, Peter Beardsley, Fabrizio Romano and Sid Lowe. Fresher stories without regurgitating tales of Man Utd from the good old days when they weren’t sh*t results in far more enlightening podcasting.

Everyone has a bias to some extent, but it would be refreshing if Neville and co. decided to broaden their horizons more regularly with non-Man Utd guests and discussions. We get it, United do numbers, but there are more stories to be told.