At 7pm this evening, Jamie Carragher and Ed Chamberlain will be in the Monday Night Football studio proving life does exist after Gary Neville.
Since first being hired by Sky Sports in 2012, the former Manchester United defender has emerged as the indisputable king of Premier League punditry, but he’s now vacated his analytical duties to accept the incredible opportunity of managing Valencia until the end of the season.
So although Everton face Crystal Palace this evening in what looks to be an intriguing clash, all attention will be focused on the pre-match and post-match analysis and whether Carragher and Chamberlain can fill G-Nev’s almighty void.
The Liverpool legend has already confirmed on Twitter that MNF will call upon guest pundits until the end of the season. But the question on everybody’s lips is quite simply; who will take the job from next season onwards?
It’s not too easy predicting a pundit, because they could be anybody from players to journalists and managers to referees, but here’s Football FanCast’s 10 favourite suggestions…
He’d restore the Manchester United-Liverpool balance in the Sky Sports studio and like Gary Neville certainly won’t hold back on his assessment of certain players.
Roy Keane boasts not only the experience of an incredible playing career but also added lessons from his admittedly less successful spell in management – which would offer something the Monday Night Football team don’t currently have.
The retired midfield enforcer doesn’t shy away from controversy and has been solid since taking a regular punditry gig with ITV. But he can be rather closed-minded and the Irishman’s generally condemning tone could become grating over the course of a four-hour show.
Match of the Day’s best, in my opinion, now that Alan Hansen is retired and Mark Lawrenson only fills in when others aren’t available.
The retired midfielder has never done an in-depth analysis of Gary Neville proportions but his 90-second round-ups on MOTD tend to be somewhat more insightful than the generic ‘he was good, he was bad’ drivel that comes from some of his colleagues.
Perhaps Murphy’s greatest asset is his willingness to look for positives rather than negatives from players, whilst also taking into context their ability.
But a double-barrel of ex-Reds in the Sky Sports studio certainly won’t sit well with all viewers.
A somewhat out-of-the-box suggestion that would take Monday Night Football down a slightly different route.
Journalist Jonathan Wilson is the famous writer of Inverting the Pyramid and the founder of The Blizzard, whilst colleague Michael Cox runs the highly popular ZonalMarking.com.
Both have written for the broadsheets and both are considered to be at the top of their field – they’re almost the Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of journalistic tactical analysis.
They’d bring something new and more sophisticated to MNF. Screen presence could be a problem, however, and some viewers might find it a little dry.
Don’t be fooled by Chris Kamara’s amusing antics for the Soccer Saturday crew – the former Brentford midfielder’s work for Goals on Sunday is a much better reflection of his ability.
He’s laid back on camera, presents well, asks interesting questions during interviews and although the show isn’t exactly known for its analysis, he makes simple but very agreeable points.
Kamara would bring a sense of humour to Monday Night Football and in my opinion, would surprise many with his knowledge of the game. He did, after all, represent 10 different teams throughout his career and have two spells in management.
The 57-year-old’s familiarity with Sky Sports and already well-established profile are other huge plus points.
He’s a punditry target already mooted by The Daily Mail and would certainly be an interesting appointment.
Craig Bellamy has already caused shockwaves during his brief stints in the Sky Sports studio, firstly for his quirky fashion sense and secondly for blasting Newcastle fans in November 2014.
A notoriously feisty character during his playing days, the former winger-forward won’t hold back on his opinions and certainly can’t be accused of bias despite Liverpool ties, having represented 10 clubs throughout his career including Premier League rivals Manchester City.
Another ‘pro’ is that the Welshman retired fairly recently, but lack of experience with the Sky Sports whiteboard could play against the Welshman.
John Terry’s contract expires at the end of the season and it remains to be seen if he’ll be offered a new deal following what looks set to become Chelsea’s worst ever campaign under Roman Abramovich.
The Blues skipper is loved in west London and loathed by many out of it. But Terry’s controversial past would bring some anticipatory buzz to the MNF studio and there’s no doubt he knows what he’s talking about, as arguably the best centre-back of the Premier League era.
Likewise, he’d offer a nice balance with Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher – almost his direct opposite at Anfield. But Terry’s prior digressions, namely racism and sex scandals, could see him deemed as simply too unpopular.
Danny Higginbotham’s performances as a co-commentator have met a mixed response, but he could fare much better as an in-studio pundit.
Indeed, the former defender’s delivery is rather dry and his speech patterns can be monotonous. But he clearly has a real passion for tactical discussion, even if he overloads on details at times, and that could see him shine with the Sky Sports whiteboard at his disposal.
Furthermore, although the 34-year-old began his career at Manchester United, he’s not really associated with the Red Devils or any other big club – spending his playing days mainly at Derby County, Southampton, Stoke City and Sunderland.
That objectivity adds to Higginbotham’s credentials and he’s not been out of the game too long, last representing Altrincham in 2014, so certainly can’t be accused of harbouring outdated views.
He’s already a rank outsider to replace Gary Neville and having suffered a turbulent few years since stepping down as Everton manager in summer 2013, David Moyes might welcome a short break from management.
Although the Scot failed to deliver at Manchester United and Real Sociedad, his credentials are undoubted and his experience in management would bring something new to the Monday Night Football studio.
Likewise, the 52-year-old’s ties with the Toffees and the Red Devils would counteract Jamie Carragher’s Liverpudlian bias. But has Moyes’ ill-fated stints at Old Trafford and in La Liga eaten away at his kudos?
Another managerial suggestion, Gus Poyet could prove to be a masterstroke if viewers can get over his occasionally inaudible accent.
The Uruguayan’s insightful remarks and confident demeanour impressed many when working with ITV during the 2014 World Cup and there’s no doubting his Premier League credentials, having represented Chelsea and Spurs during his playing days before serving as Sunderland manager for around 18 months.
The former midfielder has a good sense of humour and certainly won’t shy away from expressing controversial views or getting into heated exchanges with Jamie Carragher.
Currently working with AEK Athens, however, it appears Poyet is still focused on management for now.
A somewhat underrated pundit, Pat Nevin’s occasional analysis pieces for BBC Sport’s website are always insightful and delivered with real passion – even if it often comes with a predictably tame BBC vibe.
Many are surprised the former Chelsea and Everton winger doesn’t get more TV work and although he’s not someone who is particularly famed for his analysis of matches, he’s very good at spotting recurring trends in the Premier League.
Nevin’s now aged 52 and hasn’t worked in the game for the best part of two decades. But his opinions are still up to date and he won’t be a pundit who makes controversial or exaggerative remarks simply for the sake of it.
Nevin’s never been one for condemning individual performances, however, and that lack of ruthlesness could make him seem a little weak when compared to Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville.