"Are you watching Gary Neville?"
They were the first words that Sky co-commentator Jamie Carragher belted out after Trent Alexander-Arnold's late winner for Liverpool against Aston Villa at Anfield. It was certainly an important moment, not just for Jurgen Klopp's side, but for Alexander-Arnold personally given the recent criticisms of his performances this season and his exclusion from the latest England squad. His place with England at the Euros appears to be in jeopardy, and that was a source of great debate between Neville and Carragher earlier this week.
A late goal of that quality to win a game for a team going through adversity deserves some impactful commentary to serve the moment, but does Jamie Carragher's tiresome 'Liverpool-United-banter-duel' with Gary Neville really need to be front and centre of Sky's coverage? Are Sky even aware that there are actually lots of football fans out there who don't support either Liverpool or Manchester United and find the constant one-upmanship quite boring?
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) February 20, 2021
There is no question that both Neville and Carragher have been a breath of fresh air for the English football punditry landscape in recent years. They are both thoughtful and insightful analysts who skilfully explain how games are won and lost, and they have both helped raise the bar in terms of what the audience should expect from football analysts on TV. Their contributions to MNF on Sky Sports have made it the best weekly show on TV for tactical analysis of the Premier League.
In the early days of Carragher's punditry career, most viewers were curious to see how he would get on with Neville given the apparent animosity that existed between the two during their playing careers. But they quickly gelled and have become a valuable double-act for Sky - and early on their teasing of each other when United or Liverpool were struggling was actually quite entertaining.
It seems as though Sky Sports producers have picked up on this and now encourage the constant trolling between their lead pundits as a way of driving social engagement. The problem we have now is that the joke has become very old, is no longer funny and there have been several examples of how the two pundits' club allegiances are affecting the quality of their analysis.
— Jamie Carragher (@Carra23) April 5, 2021
How are we supposed to take Jamie Carragher's commentary seriously when all he's thinking about is sticking it to his mate Gary? The same Gary Neville who said he would select Mason Greenwood ahead of Jadon Sancho for the England squad going to the Euros this summer? Neville and Carragher may appeal to some fans of their former clubs with this rubbish, but for everyone else who's watching, it would be great if they stuck to their job and analysed what they see without the baggage of being a club legend.
If Neville and Carragher insist on trolling each other all the time, it would be nice if they kept it to social media where it belongs.