As this documentary on Sky Sports 1 about Sky Sports football pundit Gary Neville finished, I was in two minds about what I thought about it. Part of me thought it had been an enjoyable, relatively interesting twenty-five minute journey with him. The other part of me viewed it in more damning terms. Had I not just viewed an elongated backslapping advert for Sky Sports football coverage? It certainly felt like I had in places and it was thus this aspect that made this documentary a slightly irritating watch!
It was a fly-on-the-wall documentary that focused on two days last year in the life of Gary Neville’s, namely December 18th and 19th. First, we saw him making a special guest appearance on the Sky Sports Sunday morning football journalist chat-show The Sunday Supplement. It was interesting to see behind-the-scenes footage and hear from Gary about how he always envisages what the worst case scenario is whenever he does something. Highly respected football journalist Henry Winter from The Times said of Gary as a pundit,
‘I think footballers on the whole can articulate their profession, their craft and few do it better than Gary Neville…that insight is gold dust….and he does it brilliantly’.
Fellow journalist Martin Samuels from the Daily Mail commented how it was Gary’s opinionated original thinking that made him stand-out as a good pundit. Bearing in mind Neville has had several run-ins with the print media over the years, then it was insightful to hear journalists praise him.
The highlight of this programme was the constant jokey banter that we saw exists between Neville and his work colleagues, in particular with his fellow football pundit Jamie Carragher. Their close working relationship and shared humour is amusing because both played football for two teams who are the fiercest of arch-rivals, e.g. Gary Neville played for Manchester United and Jamie Carragher played for Liverpool FC. Throughout there was constant mickey-taking between them which thus gave the documentary considerable humour. For example, Carragher mocked that Neville had only signed an autograph to a fan outside the ground because he knew the camera was on him. Another funny joke was when Carragher later on mocked the size of Neville’s man boobs. Neville gave as good as he got and his best line was when he said Carragher used to support Everton as a kid growing up, in light of Carragher screaming with delight in the studio about Liverpool scoring a late winner against Everton in the league.
We also saw Neville joking with make-up lady Jill Shaylor and interviewer Geoff Shreeves. Neville poking fun at Shreeves by telling him to ask him a good question was funny because it then prompted Shreeves to starting singing that well-known Stevie Wonder song, ‘he’s a man, with a plan,…..he’s Misstra know-it-all’ back at him.
The more irritating back slappy stuff came when Neville talked about Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football show. For example Neville said, ‘I can’t think of a better show to do….to me it’s the best football programme on television’. He also went on to say how he liked to think it is the most respected football analysis programme on television. Personally speaking, I agree with this but I’m not sure we needed to hear this being said by one of its main stars in Neville. Rather than just being an honest assessment, it came across as being boastful and thus this documentary was great PR for Sky Sports.
This documentary would have been better if it had looked at Neville’s life as a pundit over a longer period of time than just two days. Why not make it an hour long instead and say look at his role over a month? As a result, more things in the football would have occured thus making the content more interesting.
It would have also been more interesting to have heard from more people in the pundit business about their views on Neville as a pundit. For instance, hearing from former premier pundit Alan Hansen about his views on Neville and the pundit business in general would have made for great TV. This was an opportunity missed in my view.
I also wanted to hear why Neville became a pundit in the first place but we never did. Why did he decide to become a pundit once again after getting sacked as Head Coach of Valencia FC last season? It would have been interesting to have heard from Sky Sports MD Barney Francis as to why they wanted to employ Neville again as a pundit. This documentary was good but it could have been bigger and better.
All-in-all, an easy to watch funny sports documentary that was interesting up to a point. Just do me a favour next time please Sky Sports, LESS BACK SLAPPING FROM MISSTRA KNOW-IT-ALL! 3/5.