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The Alex Scott Debate

Last week, people all across social media were debating the punditry ability of Alex Scott. Twitter, in particular, was divided on whether the first mainstream female football pundit knows what she is talking about or if she is just completely clueless. So, with a level head, I thought I would throw my two cents into the debate.

Now let us start with the actual debate, does Alex Scott know what she is talking about when it comes to football? Yes, on the whole, she does know what she is talking about. Those who say she does not, are either not listening ; stereotyping the quality of her input on the basis of her gender or do not understand football themselves. She makes points, provides insights and offers her own opinions.

Her resume speaks for itself, Scott is a model professional who played football at a high standard representing England 140 times and went to the 2012 Olympics with Great Britain. Additionally, Scott won the F.A. Cup seven times Premier League five times and the Champions League once. Furthermore, she also launched ‘The Alex Scott Academy’ in 2011, to highlight the growth of the female game. 

There should be no question, Alex Scott understands football.

Moving on to what we should be talking about, which is a similar discussion. How good, or bad, of a pundit, is Alex Scott? Here is where the debate becomes very emotive on both sides.

We have the people who believe her to be an awful pundit and then people on the polar opposite side who state that she is an incredible pundit. The reality is, neither side are correct here, hence why the debate is just way too emotive.

Do not get me wrong, Alex Scott is bound to be an emotive subject due to the fact that people, who do not get offended, are seemingly being offended that we have a female on our screens during the football. Then people are offended, quite rightly, that people are offended by that… does that make sense?

Anyway, back to Scott and how good of a pundit she is. The answer is, she is good, not great, not near the level of Neville and Carragher, but she is not as bad as, let us say, Shearer. In all honesty, I would place her at fifth currently, in let us call it the Premiership Pundits World Title. Gary Neville, even though it pains me to say it, is currently holding the title, Carragher is a close second, there is then a pretty big gap before Thierry Henry enters at third, then I would say Liam Rosenior, who I believe needs to be on more match day panels and Alex Scott at fifth.

The top three are just providing analysis that is far better than anyone else, Neville and Carragher providing it on a consistent basis, with Henry providing, in my opinion, the greatest piece of punditry of all time, when he spoke about playing under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona.

For me, Alex Scott provides analysis that I understand, however not helping me see something that I hadn’t appreciated, I have not learnt much from Alex Scott… yet.

Alex Scott competing in the Ultimate Champions Tournament in Kiev, prior to the 2018 Champions League Final. Photo Credit: photo-oxser / Shutterstock

For example, when she spoke about teams executing a low block against City. This is nothing new, teams have been doing that for ages against City and we know why teams are doing it against City and we know teams are willing to have less possession against City… because City are better. The next step for her is to go to that next level and explain which teams have delivered the low block well and how they have performed it well in comparison to teams that have not.

Leicester played City with three defensive midfielders and in defence congested the space between their own centre backs and fullbacks with their defensive midfielders as these are the spaces City like to operate in. Last year in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final, Gini Wijnaldum and Emre Can operated in those spaces for Liverpool, making sure to stand between Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva and the spaces. This, therefore, allows your full backs to focus more on Manchester City’s dangerous wingers and your centre backs on their striker. This educates people to what teams are attempting to do on a deep block or how teams who gained success, or came close to gaining success, had operated.

The former Arsenal player was also involved in a debate with Paul Ince regarding Gonzalo Higuain joining Chelsea. Once again, Scott made decent points, will Higuain be able to adapt to the pace of the premier league? Will he be fit enough? Why have Chelsea not tried Oliver Giroud more? She emphasised well that Hazard has stated he likes playing with Giroud and that the Frenchman played his part in France winning a World Cup. All of this while Paul Ince just shouted something along the lines of “HE DOES NOT SCORE GOALS”. Furthermore, she also acknowledged that point. This was awesome punditry, points, evidence, something you may not know, however, I can understand the other argument. The only nit-pick I may have is, why are you saying Higuain may not be fit enough? What is your evidence for that? That would put it into elite punditry, really educating people, but it was still awesome nonetheless.

Finally, I must say, Scott’s ability to stay calm while explaining her points, especially in an environment where any of her miss-steps will be scrutinised by the public due to her gender, is incredible. So often we see pundits shout over the top of each other, something Neville and Carragher are prone to doing, and forget to debate, however, Alex Scott is superb in her ability to stay calm and debate.

So, let me clarify my position. I like Alex Scott, I am a fan, count me in on the Alex Scott train. She is on Sky Sports, not due to a quota but rather on merit. However, let us not overhype her. Yes, she is a trailblazer in regards to getting women more involved in the game, yes she understands football, yet she still has a way to go to becoming elite, although I am not saying she won’t get there.

And to those who read this and say, “nope, she is useless”, face facts your are almost certainly just very upset that a woman understands the game more than you do. I implore you to take note of what a Bartender once said, to the greatest news Anchor of all time, Ron Burgundy…

“You know, times are changing. Ladies can do stuff now and you’re going to have to learn how to deal with it.” – San Diego Bartender.