Giles: Lineker in wrong job if he wants friends in football

John Giles was astonished by remarks from Match of the Day presenter Gary Lineker regarding the punditry style of RTÉ’s soccer analysts.

On a visit to Dublin last month Lineker said Giles and Eamon Dunphy couldn’t get away with the type of punditry they do on RTÉ if they were working in England.

The former England striker said soccer pundits for the BBC and Sky could not make the type of forthright, critical comments Giles and Dunphy are famed for as managers and players would see it and would be unwilling to talk to them in the future.

Giles was stunned by Lineker’s comments and said soccer analysts should not have any relationship with players.

‘‘I was surprised with Lineker’s remarks. I found it astonishing,’’ Giles said. ‘‘I find it strange that he would say that because why should it be different in England compared to us? It shouldn’t be. They shouldn’t have a relationship with the players and the managers.’’

As an example, Giles cites his relationship with former Ireland boss Jack Charlton. The two were team-mates at Leeds between 1963 and 1973 but had no contact during Charlton’s time as Republic of Ireland manager.

‘‘From what I gather what Lineker was saying was, ‘it’s okay for us because we live over here and don’t have to deal with the managers’. From my own point of view, since doing the job I’ve consciously kept away from the Irish players and Jack who I played with for 10 years,’’ Giles said.

‘‘I never spoke to Jack when he was manager of the Irish team because I wanted to be in a position to say what I wanted to say. And if I’m friendly with Jack, Jack could tell me something I already knew and if I say it on television you’re breaking a confidence. I met Robbie Keane once or twice, I never met young [Kevin] Doyle, never met young [Shane] Long — I don’t want to. Once you go into that job I think you have to divorce yourself from things. You can’t be pally with someone and then criticise them because they take offence with it. You have to be away from it.”

Gary Neville is viewed by many as one of the better British-based soccer analysts but Giles feels there is a conflict of interest between the former Manchester United man’s position with Sky and his coaching role with England.

‘‘I can’t understand the Gary Neville situation. He’s coaching the England team. He’s in the dressing room with those players and then the following week he’s assessing those players on the television. I find it very difficult to see how you can be in the England dressing room and talking to these lads and the following week you’re on telly. Something has to suffer.”

Giles said he would have ‘‘no problem’’ working with Roy Keane for RTÉ and added that he feels the former Manchester United captain is not ‘‘getting his teeth’’ into his role with ITV.

‘‘ITV is different. I don’t think you have the freedom to talk about it like we do. I watch ITV and there’s very little analysis on ITV. There’s three of them doing it and it’s a bit of a sound bite I think for Roy. I don’t think he’s getting his teeth into it. That’s the way I see it.’’

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