15 Downright Detestable Football Punditry Cliches

Chris Wright

3rd, April 2012


By Chris Wright

1. “A real Keystone Cops moment” – We’re starting with a real pet hate here. Has anyone actually seen this movie or even so much as heard it referred to outside of the MotD studio? Is it anything like Beverley Hills Ninja?

2. “He’s always got that in his locker” – I believe this was first coined to describe Stan Lazaridis’ happy knack of being able to thunder a wicked shot 30cm over the crossbar once a season, every season between 1998-2003.

3. “All just a bit of handbags there” – Please, please someone think of some other way to describe footballers’ poncey ‘no touching of the face or hair’ forehead-nuzzling. How about ‘that was all just a bit of vainglorious impotent cock-frottage there’?

4. “It’s a typical cup tie” – Can mean anything, absolutely anything. Any variation on a game of football is covered: Cagey and dull? ‘Typical cup tie. Frenetic and end-to-end? Typical cup tie. Flecked with violence and ill-temper? Typical yadda yadda yadda…

5. “It’s squeaky bum time again” – Oh f**k off.

6. “Your Tottenhams, your Arsenals, your Chelseas…” – Seizure-inducing pluralisation beloved by the likes of your Redknapps, your Townsends. It/they must be culled.

7. “He’s a football man/loves his football” – Well he’s in the right f**king line of work then isn’t he?

8. “Cultured left foot” – Science has shown that it’s humanly impossible to have a ‘cultured right foot’. There is no such thing. It’s also worth noting that only the left foot can be deemed ‘trusty’ – again, a characteristic as yet scientifically inapplicable to the right, though research is ongoing.

9. “When he hits them, they stay hit!” – Lazaridis again.

10. “Meat and drink” – A stone-cold Keown classic: used to describe something routine and tawdry. Like Martin Keown.

11. “No-one gambled” – Or, more likely, the cross was aimless and over-hit. Crossing is a difficult skill that should be given more credence, though it’s routinely cheapened on a game-to-game basis. Apropos to that, careening an Exocet down the ‘corridor of uncertainty’ does not necessarily a good cross maketh.

12. “He needs time to adjust to the pace and physicality of the Premier League” – So what exactly is Andy Carroll’s excuse? He needs time to adjust to the pace and physicality his new Scrunchie?

13. “Little man with a big heart” – Reserved solely for hairy little gobshites like Gattuso and co.

14. “There’s contact” – Don’t even get me started.

15. “He’s got to be hitting the target from there” – Time to address a worrying scourge that is beginning to take root in commentary gantries across the country.

A fair few Sunday afternoons ago I sat through Middlesbrough vs Leeds on the BBC. Luciano Becchio – ten yards out with the ball dropping out of the sun fromdirectly behind him, over his shoulder and far too close to his body for him to do anything meaningful with – managed a reasonable connection but no direction on his volleyed shot and it whistled clear over the bar by a good few feet.

Cue Beeb gab-jockey Guy Mowbray: “He’s GOT to be hitting the target from there, hasn’t he?” to which Martin Keown brayed in agreement – possibly muttering ‘meat and drink’ under his breath.

And it’s beginning to happen with worrying regularity. Not a missed chance goes by without the question being asked by some puke behind a microphone. Guaranteed it’ll happen at least three or four times every MotD. Commentators, with no real grasp of the actual mechanics of the task at hand, pointing out what the professional footballers should’ve done during slow-motion replays. Hindsight and retrospect in perfect sordid unison.

Jim Beglin and Mark Bright are sods for it. In fact, it seems to be the only thing he’s got going on in the way of analysis: “Could he have just hit it a little earlier/taken a touch/made the ‘keeper work/picked out the top corner from 30 yards?”

It’s oh so easy to do and I’ll be damned if it qualifies as insight.

Rant over.

Any we’ve missed? You know what to do people…

Posted in FAIL, Featured, Media, Top 10s & lists

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  1. Timbo says:

    “that famous night in Istanbul!”

    ITV commentators on any Liverpool game ever.

    Ditto United, re: 1999.

    On the point of “contact”, a subsidiary to balance that out: “He went down easily”.

    Let’s get this clear, you either end up on the floor from being tripped or illegally tackled, or through a conscious decision to stop whatever you had been doing and slump/fall/throw yourself onto the floor. This is commentator’s caveat for stopping short of saying “that was a dive”.

  2. moondunce says:

    Surely Tony Mowbray didn’t shout that out from the Middlesbrough bench?

  3. moondunce says:

    Guy Mowbray?

  4. seagulls says:

    if you would have said “so and so” at the start of the season i would have bitten your hand off,

  5. raza says:

    you forgot when they start talking about players that are so “powerful” and “strong”. strangely, I think this means “I have nothing of note to say about this black player, but I need to compliment him”.

  6. Timbo says:

    OH and of course, “he hit it too well”. What the hell? I don’t think any other sports in existence can claim the equivalent. Or even other jobs?

    “If anything, he pitched for the million pound contract too convincingly”
    “If anything, Usain Bolt was TOO fast”
    “He’s actually performed CPR too effectively there”

  7. Mr. Sparkle says:

    “They’re throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them…”

    I absolutely hate this fucking line and I’m pretty sure it’s used almost every single year by Tommy Smyth during Champions League coverage on ESPN. (It makes me so angry I’m predisposes to cursing).

    I also hate “If you stacked the goal on top of the goal it wouldn’t have gone in”

    And all of the one-liners by that cunt Andy Gray.

  8. Alex says:

    “You just can’t raise your hands or it’s a red”


  9. The Weasel says:


  10. Danny says:

    Not sure if any other commentators do this, but there’s a Champions League commentator who constantly tries to tell everyone what the players and managers are thinking. It’s absolutely infuriating!

  11. doody do says:

    not strictly relative, but every time John Champion yells out “Guess who!” on PES 2011 I want to throw my control at the screen and pummel him

  12. Stephen says:

    agree with @4 annoys me so much when they say ‘ If you would of offered taht before kick off he would’ve taken it’ who is saying this !!!!!!

  13. Scott says:

    Shearer on MotD
    “And he should score from there”

  14. Inno says:

    Pluralisation of names covered nicely here: http://youtu.be/entup0bSYjw

  15. Lloyd Christmas says:

    “over to Alan shearer” is one I particularly dislike.

  16. kev says:

    hes not that type of player !!!!!!

  17. Professor Erno Breastpinchd says:

    “Your Tottenhams, your Arsenals, your Chelseas…” has sprung up like a veracious weed over the last few years. It seems only the imagination-lobotomised get work in football punditry.

    What’s worse is when they go on to name excessive examples in this way. eg, “You’ve got your Wolves, your QPRs, your Boltons, your Blackburns, your Wigans, and even your Aston Villas all looking to avoid religation” WTFFFFF!!! THESE THINGS ARE NOT PLORAL YOU MONGOLOID MORONIC SHIT FOR BRAINS!!!!

    ps, on a calmer note “he’s got good feet for a big lad” is a peach. I’d like to hear one of the pundit clique break free and use “he’s got shit feet for a short arse” just once.

  18. Alex says:

    Thank you for number 6!

  19. Professor Erno Breastpinchd says:

    @11, quality video

  20. Alex says:

    “In the modern game…”

    “Stone wall penalty there…”

    “Wouldn’t have been a foul ten years ago”

    “They try to be too clever there, trying to play football”

  21. Grant says:

    The size of the pitch at Wembley and the Camp Nou. I realize the Britannia has a narrower pitch and whatnot for Premier League games, but in Europe you have to play with a set size of pitch. So for teams like Milan or Arsenal to go play at the Camp Nou, the pitch they’re playing on is exactly the same size as they are used to.

  22. Mark says:

    ‘saved by the post’ the Fu**ing thing never moves…

  23. jonathan says:

    “he really should be working the keeper from there” heard this countless times, think andy gray used to say it several times a match.

  24. Professor Erno Breastpinchd says:

    “There’s no easy games in international football”
    Apart from when the Aussies won 31-0 I guess.

  25. Luke says:

    I call it ‘Swanning’ when two players have a bit of ‘handbags’. They look like two swans; arms back, heads forwards and sometimes hissing.

  26. “Stone wall penalty”
    what the hell does that mean?

  27. Andrew says:

    Heard many time last night in the Blackburn – Man United game, and again just now in Bayern – Marseille:

    Keeper pulls off an outstanding save…

    “well, he should get to that, one for the cameras that one…”

  28. Alex says:

    Alan Smith says “Yeah… he’s just used his experience there…” to explain every, single action on the pitch

  29. WildScotsman6 says:

    Not that it’s got much to do with this article… but the American football commentators on ESPN or so say some classic shite. They make up their own terms. They’ve finally got brits doing it now, but before we heard stuff like: “submarine header” (diving header) “hesitation move” (a dummy).. etc.

  30. sloth says:

    Not sure about British broadcasts, but here in Canada/the States, every time there’s a controversial goal-line call (i.e. every time AC Milan plays), one of the commentators is compelled to remind us hapless viewers that “the whole of the ball must cross the whole of the line,” as if that’s some little-known detail buried deep in the Laws of the Game.

    Another North American special is that anyone with an English/Irish/Scottish accent is a certifiable “soccer” expert. See Piers Morgan on Fox as proof. And the more of these clichés they use, the better, cause we stupid Canucks and Yanks think we’re getting an “authentic” soccer broadcast experience.

  31. sanchez says:

    Beautiful article.

  32. Harry Catknapp says:

    “real end to end stuff” ffs! i mean come on,has there ever been a game when the ball hasnt been in either half of the pitch quite alot! utter piffle once again.

  33. Luke says:

    Not so much a cliche — but still pisses me off when pundits use the phrase “somewhat fortuitous.” Not only do “fortunate” and “fortuitous not mean the same thing, (the latter meaning ‘accidental’ rather than ‘lucky’), where does “somewhat” come in to it?

  34. df says:

    ‘5. “It’s squeaky bum time again” – Oh f**k off.’

    Haha, this is my favourite!

  35. Capt. Mok says:

    not sure he could make a “cold Tuesday night at the Britannia” gets on my nerves every time they say this about Messi.

  36. Tom says:

    What about a goal keeper being ‘beaten all ends up’ – I have literally no idea what the fuck that means.

  37. gibberish says:

    These really aren’t that bad. Forget cliches, if anyone is hard up for entertainment look up some ESPN highlights from WC ’06 or ’10. John Harkes…Ex us international.. possibly the worst commentator in the history of sport. Generally doesn’t appear to watch games hes commentating and struggles to form coherent english sentences.

  38. dc says:


    i thought summer was the business end of the season… thats when all the business is done, with a special mention to january…

  39. Chris W says:

    STRENGTH IN DEPTH! – Alan Hansen says that every fucking week!

  40. Stephen says:

    ‘WEEK IN WEEK OUT’ what does that mean !!!!!!!

  41. Tom says:

    The lad’s got a great engine…

    Did tildsley just compare Andres Iniesta to my mrs seven year old Ford KA?

  42. Rob says:

    “Always rising” and “no backlift” piss me off

  43. Rob says:

    I almost forgot, “opened up his body” is he a surgeon?

  44. Bobby Meeks says:

    Could someone please explain, “That was a soap in the shower moment for him”?

    It came out several times in the Newcastle v Liverpool sky coverage

    • Chris says:

      @Bobby Meeks: It’s usually wheeled out to describe a ‘keeper taking a few goes to claim a squirming ball. Nothing to do with the whole ‘prison/soap/shower’ thing, which is something entirely different.

  45. Al says:

    I fucking hate “slide rule pass” for any pass that goes along the ground more than 10 yards, its a shitty phrase only used by wanker pundits. If you must insist on a phrasse to describe such a pass then “daisy cutter” should be compulsory although that would probably piss me off soon as well

  46. OrdyOrdyoftheToon says:

    based on this, I want too see Chris Moyles doing more commentry. he did a game for BBC at the world cup it was a real sh*t game but his commentry made it amazing

  47. abooboo says:

    he’s a ‘top top’ player, playing for a ‘top top’ club

    does that grind anyone else’s gears?

  48. Mr Sensible says:

    ‘siege mentality’ can fuck off too!

    Also saying a player who fouls an opponent and is the last man has to go, it’s not even in the fucking rules!!! It would be useful if pundits and commentators knew the rules before opening their mouth.

  49. Dan says:

    Someone tell Shearer to stop saying “for me…” as in “for me, he should have hit the target”. Argh! None of it is for you Alan, none of it!

  50. sheffieldfox says:

    When Andy Townsend refers to the goal(singular,posts,crossbar,net) as “The Goals” “He’s got to be hitting the goals from there.”

  51. Lucid says:

    “Meat and drink” I wouldn’t mind this so much if Keown actually said it, but he says “food and drink” instead, which I’m pretty sure was was an old BBC show…

    Great article though – I could happily watch football without annoying commentators at all. Also, “Woodwork” In which century did they stop making the goalposts from wood…

  52. Tinez says:

    @Chris – you’ve written ‘could of’ instead of could have at the end of your piece.

    Strangely you never here them say ‘surely he has to hit the target from there’ when someone misses a penalty round the post or over the bar. This must be the best time for that line.

  53. Richard Dunne says:


    “Sometimes, when a team gets a man sent off, it gives them that extra something”

  54. Steve says:

    “Its his weaker foot” – they are paid 100k a week, they play football every week. they shouldn’t have a weak foot. hate that phrase.

  55. Wes Brown says:

    Whenever Messi/Gareth Bale doesn’t score from not even an easy chance…


  56. V says:

    Steve, the vast majority of them just train their natural side to the maximum; illogical? perhaps, but then Messi comes along and small kids don’t care for their off-foot.

    Regarding the article, and having said that, “He’s got a great left-foot” when mentioning a left-footed player is just asinine

  57. werderbremen_rulez says:

    Spot on! Great article!

    From my own, German perspective, I may add that Buli “pundits” have a colorful array of bullshit ready to throw at you very similar to what you compiled for PL – just awful stuff!

    I really enjoy watching games only with stadium atmo option on and NO jerk giving me his asinine wisdoms!

  58. werderbremen_rulez says:

    Spot on! Great article!

    From my own, German perspective, I may add that Buli “pundits” have a colorful array of bullshit ready to throw at you very similar to what you compiled for PL – just awful stuff!

    I enjoy watching games only with stadium atmo option on and NO jerk giving his asinine wisdoms!

  59. Foran says:

    ‘He has a good touch for a big guy.’ *ahem* Peter Crouch *ahem*

    EVERY game for his first two seasons at Liverpool and sporadically throughout his career since.

  60. Tom says:

    Slightly off topic as a good example, but a German friend told me that they have an awesome word to describe a low talent-high effort scuffer type of player – rumplefussler. I just think that’s class!

    • Chris says:

      @Tom: Got a feeling that ‘Rumplefusser’ is definitely going to feature on Pies a fair bit in the near future. Perfect.

  61. Gibby says:

    @ Steve – you just got in before me ! The one that gets me is – My player or we gave 110% !!!! even ma misses here’s them saying it on MOTD and has a look at me as i get ready to rant. Ye can’t get 110% of anything just 100 !!! plus they start going 101% , 120%, 150% as if they need to measure how much they need to go over the 100 to get their point across !!!

    No. 2 – The GAFFER !!! as if the managers like some worksite foreman !!!! Imagine callin Arsene Wenger – GAFFER !!!!

  62. Ron says:

    I’ve pretty much stopped following U.S. sports like basketball & football because the games are a joke (slow, boring, too many stoppages) AND because the announcers and pundits drive me crazy. Every moronic NFL pundit now uses the “word” impactful. Ugh.

    As for these 15, I have to say that most of them just make me laugh. As an American, they are still unique to me so I’m not that pissed when I hear them. And many of them have me scratching my head over what they mean.

    BUT, I can completely understand hating the cliches of pundits. I can’t stand so many American pundits – pretty much anyone employed by ESPN. I want that network to implode and go away.

  63. Burnden Paddock says:

    I hate it when the commentators are obviously recording after a game they know the outcome of…as in “David Ngog hasn’t scored for 197 games, wouldn’t this be a good time to break that run” – cue Ngog shinning one in 10 seconds later. Same when there’s a goalmouth melee and no-one can see who’s scored yet Tony Gubba instantly knows its Papa Demba Faye-Cisse who’s played all of 12 minutes this season. I imagine Gubba spends all of Saturday evening in a box reading his script over half a dozen re-runs.

  64. Matt says:

    I absolutely hate come april/may time when a shit player on a shit team blasts a abysmal shot into the corner flag and some dips**t commentator goes “and that sums up their season”. EVERY year..

  65. Phil K says:

    Yes, and theres the pundits themselves.
    people you wonder how the hell can they get ANY job, like David Pleat, Wilkins, Savage – it used to be Ron Atkinson until his stupidity and 2D personality were caught out big time “Early doors” was his moronic contribution to this. (Bafflingly STILL used. WHY ? WHAT effing “doors” would this be ???)
    Then theres Hansen and Lawro…”How can we bring Liverpool into this discusasion ?” That said, Murray’s as bad.
    At least Pat Nevin’s intelligent although I agree with nothing he says.

  66. Degs says:

    I agree with the “he hit it too well” sentiments.

    The best version of this was by Chris Kamara on Soccer Saturday.

    I can’t remember the teams or player, but a cross came in and the player connected with a downward header, but it hit the ground so hard that it bounced up and over the bar.

    Kammy exclaimed that the player had “headed the ball too far down”, which creates a lovely images of the ball going through the pitch and ending up 3 feet below the turf.

  67. Dave G says:

    Stonewall penalty. Eased its way from the pundit couch to the pub with distressing ease. Either something to do with a long dead US General or a New York gay bar. Either way, makes no sense.

  68. Ted. says:

    “Whipped in with pace”. Shudder. Better to shut off the commentators and just have the atmos, players have their names on the back of their shirts these days anyway…

  69. Souksonne says:

    ‘It’s all about pace, power, aggression’ when uttered from the lips of Mr Hansen, to describe anybody that’s a little bit fast. The only 3 adjectives in his locker, clearly.

  70. Alex says:

    @Matt, yes… I pray it stops…

    When a ball goes out for a throw “That just about sums up their season”

  71. Jamie says:

    When people hit the post and commentators say they’re unlucky. He wasn’t unlucky he missed the f**king target. Anytime someone hits a ball it’s whipped in. Also, anything and everything that comes from the mouth of Ian Dowie.

  72. Tom says:

    When commentators say they “know where the goal is”. Well if I was the manager I’d be worried if they didn’t. Also “game over”, the game isn’t over till after 90 minutes not after the 75th when one team goes 3-0 up.

  73. caerwyn says:

    “as soon as they cross the white line” “in derbys form book goes out of the window..” “he’s done ever so well..” “hello….! (clive tyldsley)..” if anything, he hit it too well..” “come and get me plea..” “he really should be doing better from there..”.

  74. Harry says:

    ” Its a game of 2 halves”
    I’m fully aware of that thank you very much.

  75. Christopher says:

    Footballers and commentators aren’t intelligent people, hence their use of cliches. think about it, what education do Shearer or Hansen have? cliches used by them annoy me, but it’s the nature of the beast lol.

  76. […] 6. Jamie Redknapp: Aside from the fact that, thanks to his fondness for “Medium Boys” size suit trousers, he presents the Sky Sports audience with a clear outline of his genitals every weekend as he sits spread eagled throughout the entire course of Super Sunday, Redknapp is the kind of chirruping Oi Oi laaaaaad that we despise. Triffic Jnr is also a bugger for pluralising the unpluralisable (“your Arsenals, your Chelseas”, etc), which we hate with a searing passion. […]

  77. Kieran Wilks says:

    Townsend referring to certain spots on the pitch as “gullys” boils my piss every time.

  78. […] Ate All the Pies with 15 Downright Detestable Commentator Cliches that we love to hate, […]

  79. Casey says:


    Also “It’s a great cross/pass, shame no-one was there” By definition, it wasn’t a good cross/pass then was it?

  80. FootyIsFixed says:

    Alan Hansen. Every…single…fucking… week he says, “When you talk about…” usually followed by “defending”, “pace”, etc. Well, 9 times out of 10, nobody *was* talking about those things, it’s obviously just a way for you to get your insipid little cliche/catch-phrase some air time.

    In contrast though, I actually really like Lawro’s flippancy. He’s obviously talking the requisite shite, taking the money & walking very slowly away. PLUS he actually used “worm burner” to describe a “daisy cutter”, which is LOL-worthy.

    Other ball aches? Atkinson’s “back stick”, at the end of the day”, “right down to the wire”, “row ZZZZZZZZZ”…

  81. Harry's Dog says:

    Massive club. Massive game. Obviously.

  82. Steveo says:

    Absolutely hate it when they use the term “asking questions”

  83. RED_DEVIL says:

    The most obvious and extremely annoying cliche is : *YELL**Insert player name* “And hes done it again!!”

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