It is probably appropriate that no acknowledgment yet of Alan Hansen’s impending departure from our screens has avoided mention of his skepticism about entrusting the business of winning to kids.
An opinion he dispensed fully 18 years ago.
There was a time, early in the modern age of football punditry, when people watched out for Hansen, to see what he might say. Latterly, they have begun to do so again, mostly to make sure he was awake.
Maybe the punditry was just too easy for him, like the football looked to be once.
In his book, A Matter Of Opinion, Hansen says his TV career could have branched out into all kinds of exciting areas, but he kept turning down opportunities because he didn’t have the confidence. So he got stale instead.
He has never come across as a man with a tremendous appetite for work. Kenny Dalglish once described taking a lift from Hansen when he heard the ominous thump of a flat tire. ‘Pull over’ he advised before suggesting Hansen change it.
Change it? ‘Jockey’ didn’t even know how to open the boot. In the end, Kenny sorted it. He was the one who got his hands dirty in management too.
At times, especially during international tournaments, Hansen’s analysis has betrayed a similar attitude to learning about the nuts and bolts of foreign football teams.
But at least he was memorable once, which is more than most can boast.
And he never quite became ‘shocking’, or ‘diabolical’, although recently another of his favourite words might fit the bill; ‘mediocre.’
First published in the Irish Examiner