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11th Apr 2017

Jamie Carragher is now a better pundit than Gary Neville

It is a pleasure watching Jamie Carragher

Conan Doherty

Imagine a cross between the best of Gary Neville and the best of Graeme Souness.

Imagine a hybrid of analytical nerds and straight-talking ‘proper football’ men.

Imagine an experienced old pro not afraid to tell honest stories of his playing days or give his genuine opinion on former teammates and rivals and a man who has almost as much insightful thoughts as he does an intolerance to bullshit.

There’s only one person in football punditry right now that could fill those needs: Jamie Carragher.

On Monday night, the football world gathered around to watch another inevitable Arsenal collapse. A night time game, a London derby at a tough, tight ground with Sam Allardyce in the opposing dugout – we’re fools for expecting anything less than a hammering to be honest.

What was once just stale and minding its own meek business for far too long is now rotting and stinking the place up.

So, cruel or not, there was serious appetite for a lynching because everyone is just sick to the back teeth of watching the same old crimes go unpunished year after year and, what’s worse, they’re then forced to listen to the hype again the following season.

Well, Jamie Carragher had just about enough.

In one of the finest pieces of football television ever aired on Sky Sports, the Liverpool legend unloaded on this current Arsenal team and gave the people – even Gunners fans – what they wanted in one exasperated, excitable explosion that hit exactly the right note.

It wasn’t out of showmanship or anything like that either. It was just one football man – one real football man – who had reached the end of his tether and allowed his emotions to get the better of him.

He didn’t say the words that came out of his mouth. He felt them.

Whereas Graeme Souness once labelled this crop of Arsenal players a team of son-in-laws, the perfectly nice gentlemen you’d be happy for your daughter to bring home, Carragher looked sick to the stomach at that same thought.

“What father would want his daughter to bring one of them home?” he said, throat hoarse, nostrils flaring, eyes bulging.

“I’m serious. Bottling it, cowards, ducking out of challenges. What type of man would want his daughter to bring home one of them?”

Sometimes as a football fan, you can feel pretty helpless. When your anger levels are up and your rational thinking is down, watching a group of pundits and analysts completely miss the point only makes matters worse. All you want is your own grievances to be touched on – even just mentioned – because all you want is to know that you’re not the only person going mad.

Time and time again, Jamie Carragher has shown that he just gets it. Time and time again, he’s there for the guy sitting at home throwing his remote at the TV.

Rarely will he miss a talking point. Rarely will his segments be out of touch with what the common people want aired. Rarely – actually, never – will he bottle the opportunity to say exactly how he’s feeling on each of those topics because, when it comes down to it, he’s just like everybody else.

He’s just a football man that lives and breathes it. Like Gary Neville makes orgasmic sounds at the sight of Fernando Torres bearing down on the Barcelona goal, Carragher kicks and feels every ball too.

But, unlike Neville who has seemingly taken more of a step back from the punditry and who’s probably guilty the odd time of getting through his performances now with pure head, the Liverpool man holds nothing back.

He throws himself recklessly into the role with pure blind faith that it will work out because this is just football and football is what he does. Carragher’s just a fan like the rest of us so he’s not one bit scared to let those same emotions consume him. He just so happens to be able to back it up with wit, intelligence and 17 years at the top.

Carragher, the defender, divided opinion as to whether or not he deserved to be considered as one of the best. But Carragher’s heart, his passion, and his total commitment to the cause was never in question by anyone. Never.

Those same attributes are now driving his punditry career and they’re endearing him to the world. The only difference is that there should be no question whatsoever as to whether or not he should considered as one of the best.

Because, honestly, it is a pleasure watching Jamie Carragher now. And it’s one of life’s great comforts knowing that he’ll be there for you when football sooner or later beats you to your knees.

Catch up with this week’s episode of 888sport Football Friday Live