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Wednesday 23 August 2017

Carra and Neville hang 'keeper high

Sky Sports pundits (l-r) Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville.
Sky Sports pundits (l-r) Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville.

Loris Karius is a young man with a great talent who must, like the rest of us, look at Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville and wonder how it all came to this.

This chattering, busy duo now completely dominate analysis on Sky and have taken it upon themselves to be a hanging jury.

Karius is the target and Neville has been trading insults with the Liverpool goalkeeper in the dubious arena that is Twitter.

It was awful to hear Carragher, with a smug little grin on his face, chuntering away blaming Karius after Liverpool threw away a lead against West Ham and almost lost.

He advised the German to stay off Twitter and work hard.

Later, Neville said the same and into the battle waded outraged Didi Hamann, who reckoned they were too hard on his compatriot.

This bare-knuckle battle could never have happened without social media and everyone involved looked stupid by the time it was over.

Karius, the man in the eye of the storm wasn't great against West Ham, but neither were the rest of the Liverpool defence. To load it all on the shoulders of one man was unfair. Worse than that it was inaccurate.

But it seems now that pundits want to get involved a bit more, want to feel like they still mean something in football.

Eamon Dunphy has done a version of this for years in Ireland but however accurate his analysis mostly is, it has become a cliché at this stage and until very recently, his opinion on Michel Platini or Ronaldo never made it beyond the local. It has always been Sky's policy to infiltrate sport and get as close to the story as possible. They have tried to be the 13th man in the equation, not just as close to the action as they can get but actually part of it.

That's why we get managers now before matches, muttering inanities and empty platitudes to fill some time for the broadcasters, the very last thing they want to be doing.

There is no value in that or in interviews like the one Patrick Davison did with Darren Randolph after the Ireland No. 1 had handed Liverpool an equaliser with a mistake.

Platitudes

Davison is a nice man who works the Ireland beat and players seem to like him. He asks difficult questions with skill but did we really need to see Randolph's pain?

It pushed all the buttons for Sky. It fits their notion of football as a rolling reality show and if their pundits are engaging mano a mano with the players or managers, all the better.

It is, of course, ridiculous and Carragher, in particular, ought to get a grip of himself. When you hang up your boots, you cease to have any meaningful influence and all you can do is make noise.

He was a no-nonsense, effective centre-back who found his level at Anfield in a largely fallow period for the club and someone you instinctively feel would have good radar for foolishness.

But he's gone native at Sky and is oozing self-importance. The same happened his mate Neville and he's shouting louder than ever in an attempt to become relevant again.

That's what happens when you take the dilettante route to management, a gilded path which bypasses experience in favour of someone who talks a good game.

And he did talk a good game before his singularly unsuccessful stab at being the Gaffer but now his credibility is shot to pieces by his failure with Valencia and England.

It is a mystery why anyone ever took this man seriously in the first place.

He was no more than a decent full-back placed beside someone like Denis Irwin and certainly never world class.

He was lampooned by opposition fans with great relish because they recognised him from their own lives.

Everyone had a Red Nev in their class, the one who tried just that bit too hard to fit in with the big lads but never quite made it.

All the medals he won at Old Trafford because he was lucky to grow up among serious talent and his career at Old Trafford intersected with Roy Keane, do not seem to be enough for him.

That's why he couldn't help himself when he rose to Karius's tweet last week like a very obliging trout.

Red Nev thinks he's still playing, still important but he's not. Neither is Carra.

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