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The Rest is Football should be sent off

Gary Lineker’s new podcast offers a stale standard of analysis that barely hovers above that offered by the drunkest bar-propper in your local pub.

By Will Lloyd

Football punditry is a lazy profession. You will be reminded of this when you listen to The Rest is Football, the new football podcast presented by Gary Lineker, and made by his company Goalhanger. As the Premier League begins, Lineker and his co-pundits, Micah Richards and Alan Shearer, promise “big stories, tall tales, gossips and hopefully some laughs”.

What you actually get is a stale standard of analysis that barely hovers above that offered by the drunkest bar-propper in your local pub. Ruminating over Declan Rice’s £105m transfer from West Ham United to Arsenal, Lineker says: “Lot of money.” Then Shearer adds, with some justice, “Lot of money.” There are millions of British males who could say this stuff into a microphone. They would do it for free.

The spectre of money haunted the lads as they pondered Jordan Henderson’s move to the Saudi Professional League club Al-Ettifaq. The former Liverpool captain had a fine old time in recent years wearing a rainbow armband and sounding off about the rights of various minority groups. Henderson was criticised for his move over the summer, but Shearer was having none of it. Henderson was simply “a great lad to have in the dressing room”. I’m sure if Shearer met Mohammed bin Salman he would leave chuntering on about what a “great prince to have ordering the execution of a journalist”. Lineker, ever ameliorative, warned that the Saudis “put people to death for not necessarily very bad things”. Richards just thought the money sounded nice: “I would go tomorrow.”

So that’s our line-up. Lineker, genial and almost self-aware. Shearer, bottomlessly dull. Richards, dopey and guffawing. The trio also host the BBC’s Match of the Day. Why the Beeb is letting them do this is mysterious. Perhaps Gary Lineker can do whatever he likes. Well almost anything. He hasn’t produced a football podcast better than the dozens of other football podcasts out there. It’s going to be a long season.

The Rest is Football
Spotify/Apple Podcasts

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[See also: Gary Lineker: “The BBC can’t stop me talking about politics”]

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This article appears in the 16 Aug 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Russia’s War on the Future