An extraordinarily long Premier League season has left plenty of time for pundit nonsense. From “basic” Sheffield United to eating opponent’s noses, these are some of the most bizarre quotes of the season.
Mum buys my trousers – Michael Owen
“As embarrassing as this admission is, I only recently started using my own bank account, at the age of 38. Up until then, my mother paid all the bills and managed everything.”
The latest bizarre admission from the helicopter-piloting oddball. Back in 2014 he tweeted that he had only ever watched eight films, leading his followers to suggest ‘Lord of the Hamstrings’, ‘One Limped Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ and…Titanic (not sure that individual quite got it). Owen went on to reveal that his dad still washes behind his ears and his auntie continues to sellotape two one pound coins in his birthday cards, which he immediately hands over to his mother, of course.
Ball-hogger Grealish – Graeme Souness
“When I was playing I would not want to have been the most fouled player in the Premier League. That means I’m holding on to the ball too long. That means I’m not seeing the picture early enough, taking too many touches when I don’t need to.”
Graeme Souness is not impressed by Jack Grealish being the most fouled player in the Premier League. The top goalscorer, assist maker and key passer of the ball in Villa’s team just doesn’t “see the picture”. All those extra touches leading to fouls to get them up the pitch when he could be releasing one of their three strikers, who boast a combined goals tally of six. Come on, Jack.
Brandon the cannibal – Gary Neville
“What I like about him specifically is he has that look in his eye of someone that would eat his opponent’s nose to win the match.”
Ah, the age-old adage. He just had that look about him.
Direct Blades – Danny Mills
“It’s not the most glamorous club. It’s not the most glamorous way of playing. They might play a little direct at times.”
“Might” is the key word here; Mills had absolutely zero knowledge of the team Chris Wilder had just guided to promotion. He could have looked at the stats that put the Blades in the bottom half of the Championship for aerial duels won, the ratio of short to long passes that put them in the top four, or, far more simply, he could have watched them play.
Basic Blades – Garth Crooks
“This is the third game I’ve seen Sheffield United. They’re going to struggle. They lack potency up front. And, quite frankly, I think their style of football is quite basic for the Premier League, I’m afraid.”
What’s worse than a lazy pundit? An inept one. Following this utter drivel from Crooks, Sheffield United lost once – 1-0 to Liverpool – in their next ten Premier League games. They finished five points off Europe playing a totally unique, complex style of football.
“Their style of play is quite basic for the Premier League.”
Are Sheffield United going to struggle this season?
— Match of the Day (@BBCMOTD) August 31, 2019
Can’t even lace his boots – Danny Murphy
“Kevin De Bruyne is the best midfielder, probably, in the world, and he’s clapping his hands and giving a guard of honour to players who can’t even lace his boots!”
The English, European and World Champions you mean? A Mediawatch field day.
I see him shooting hoops – Graeme Souness
“It’s just the cynic in me. I’m thinking Paul Pogba, I see him dancing at a wedding. I see him shooting hoops, and something else. Just the cynic in me thinks he doesn’t want to be at Man United.”
It’s not “the cynic” in you, Graeme. Souness wasn’t even asked about Paul Pogba, just found a way to shoehorn his favoured stalking victim into conversation. What was the “something else” he happened to see? He didn’t meet a mate for coffee? You’re going to tell me he picked his kids up from school next.
Don’t let them on the bus – Roy Keane
“I’m staggered at Maguire, staggered that an international player can just get done like this, and I am sick to death of this goalkeeper. I would be fighting him at half time. I would be swinging punches at this guy. This is a standard save for an established international goalkeeper. I am flabbergasted. Maguire and De Gea, I wouldn’t even let them on the bus after the match. Get a taxi back to Manchester.”
Maybe it was the lockdown haircut that did it, but Roy Keane looked particularly crazy as he tore into Harry Maguire and David De Gea after their mistakes against Tottenham. There is only so much anger that can be released through punching walls and screaming at pigeons in the park; Keane had quite the reserve on his return to the Sky Sports studio.
I’m deluded – Jamie Redknapp
“At the start of the season, you may have heard me say this on Sky Sports: “If you think Frank Lampard should finish in the top four and win a cup, then you’re deluded.”
Lucky Newcastle – Paul Merson
“No one else has put their money into the club. Only Mike Ashley has put his money in, and he’s not saying ‘I’m not selling, I’m going to ruin this club and take it wherever I want.’ But no one else has come forward with the money. Sooner or later, you’ve got to go ‘lucky it is for Mike Ashley, otherwise where would we be?’”
Surprisingly he hasn’t explicitly revealed his plans to ruin Newcastle and do whatever he wants, but that is what he’s done and unfortunately could still be doing for a good while yet. You lucky, lucky b*****ds.
Chelsea imperative – Alan Shearer
“But these players will all be expecting to play in the Champions League next season, so it’s imperative they get the job done.”
It’s not “imperative”, is it? If Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech had not already signed, then it’s “imperative”. The fact they were watching in the stands and had been pictured training in full Chelsea regalia makes it, at best, nice for them to qualify.
Be more like Guendouzi – Ian Wright
“Him and Guendouzi had been having it all game and I think he was talking about Guendouzi at the end. He’s [Guendouzi] given him a bit there and he’ll probably get in trouble for that. But we need to be showing that fight, for me Al.”
To be fair, Wright may not have heard about Matteo Guendouzi’s classy my house is bigger than yours comments. But he saw the petty little twirp grab Neal Maupay by the throat, and that can’t be an example of the sort of “fight” he wants to see. Wright has been outspoken over his frustration at the spinelessness of Arsenal teams of late, but you can’t blindly praise the merest hint of passion no matter the guise.
Salah the deodorant of the game – Steve Nicol
“Winning is the deodorant of the game, it covers all bad smells. Winning covers a lot of bad things. You can say it with Salah. Salah’s form this season, is there a guy that frustrates you more in the Premier League or anywhere else with the things he does in a game? Then all of a sudden he will produce something. So you could say the same about him as well. But again, he plays every game and why? Because they win.”
Winning being the “deodorant of the game” is actually a lovely prosaic phrase. And he just about gets away with stretching the analogy to suggest Salah’s goals cover the bad smell of his frustrating play – at least I think that’s what he’s claiming. But does Salah play every game because they win? Or do they win every game because Salah’s playing?
Will Ford is on Twitter