In a reversal of the jibes often aimed at Sky football punditry, Sky Soccer Saturday host Jeff Stelling has criticised the work of RTE pundits like John Giles, Eamon Dunphy and Liam Brady.
In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Stelling acknowledged he had frequently studied the Irish punditry team in action but suggested he wasn’t particularly impressed.
“I think it goes too far. I think they’re too critical. What I’ve seen of them I think they go a step too far. It goes beyond the bounds of fairness.”
Stelling previously told DangerHere that he didn’t believe analysts needed to be overly negative to do a good job.
“I don’t think you have to be ultra critical to be a pundit. Some people make the mistake of thinking they have to go for the jugular every time.”
Stelling’s colleague on Soccer Saturday Charlie Nicholas agreed that the RTE team frequently crossed the line when it came to criticism of players and managers.
“I think they get a bit too personalised. I understand that you’ll always be that bit harder when it comes to your own teams because you’re passionate about it but sometimes when you’re at someone quite regular it can get too easy to just keep knocking and not seeing what’s actually in front of you.
Sometimes it’s as if they have to keep at the same agenda. It’s almost if they’re showing up just to be critical.”
Of the RTE pundits, Eamon Dunphy has carved a career out of stinging personal rebukes for players and managers.
He has described Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand as “a bad character, mentally slow” and “a tramp”.
He once insisted Real Madrid star Ronaldo was “a disgrace to the game”, “a petulant brat” and “an impersonator, a clown, a self-indulgent idiot.”
Dunphy once labelled Sunderland chairman Niall Quinn “a creep… a Mother Theresa” and described Wolves manager Mick McCarthy as “a congenital loser”. He also suggested former Liverpool man Harry Kewell was “a fat clown for all to see.”
Stelling argues that Sky now achieve a much better balance when it comes to constructive criticism and analysis.
“I think it’s fair to say that in the early days there was never a bad game on Sky. Never, ever. But if you watched the Man United-Arsenal 8-2 game nobody could say that Paul Merson and Gary Neville weren’t incredibly opinionated or critical. So times have changed though you need to accentuate the positives too. I think it’s about getting that right balance.”