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Football FanCast talks Hartlepool, Burnley and Champions League with Jeff Stelling

We’ve all sat in our living room, watching football on the television and listening to ‘experts’ analysing the beautiful game. We have also, at one time or another, stated we could do a much better job; Carlsberg’s People’s Pundit has given everyone a chance to have a go.

FootballFanCast.com had the opportunity to speak to the legendary anchor man of Soccer Saturday and Champion’s League football to get some of his opinions, predictions and tips for budding pundits.

Jeff Stelling is supporting Southern finalist Kevin Clarke in The People’s Pundit, championed by the Carlsberg Fan Squad, and came to visit him in his local pub to give him some top tips on punditry.

FFC: How do you prepare for Soccer Saturday, when do you start?

JS: It starts on a Saturday night usually, pretty much straight after the show, there’s no rest! I read everything that has happened that day. Then I’ll sit down and watch Match of the Day and The Football League Show and then from the Sunday I will use any resources I can to build up all the stats that mean I will never get caught out.

FFC: How do you remember all those stats every week?

JS: I’m old fashioned, or just old! I write down everything about every club. It sounds silly but I start with very basic stuff, for example I will write Manchester United down then I’ll write Old Trafford and Louis van Gaal down. It sounds so basic but you never know when you will have a blank moment so you can never be too careful!

FFC: What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

JS: Well things like the People’s Pundit are perfect. It’s all about making your opinion heard. It used to be so hard but now everyone can have a voice. It’s really important to be a pundit, not a parrot. Don’t just repeat what you’ve heard a commentator or someone else has said, formulate your own opinion.

Be like the Neville’s and Carragher’s of the world, they are opinionated  but can back up everything they say. Also have an interesting turn of phrase, look at Merson, ‘He’s like a fish up a tree’, things like that make people interested in what you are saying.  Finally, and most importantly, be yourself and stick up for what you believe in.

FFC: What have you noticed during covering Champions League football that has led to English teams struggling?

JS: Well it’s partly cyclical of course, but mainly I feel it’s down to the intensity of the league. Just look at Chelsea against Burnley a few weeks back, top against one of the bottom teams and it’s still a hard slog. That would never happen in Spain for example; they scored nine against Granada, that never happens in England. I know it sounds a cliché but it really is the most fantastic league to watch, it’s so entertaining. Maybe not the strongest, but it’ still the best.

FFC: Do you still find watching a game on a wet and cold afternoon at Victoria Park, more entertaining than a game at the Bernebau?

JS: Simply put, no. I went Hartlepool v Newport a few weeks ago and it was horrible; nerve wracking and nail biting, but nothing beats it. For european football I watch it as neutral, I enjoy the quality in Europe, but for me, Hartlepool is a great deal more enjoyable.

FFC: Who are your shouts for promotion from the Championship?

JS: It’s hit and miss really, it’s so hard to call, but I fancy Bournemouth to get over the line – they just score too many goals. Don’t get me wrong it will be an amazing story, but they’re not a Cinderella club, they’ve spent some money, not that there’s anything wrong with that of course. Along with them I’m going with my heart and saying Middlesbrough, but it will be desperately close, it’s been such a good league and any of the teams have a real chance of staying up next year.

FFC: And finally, who will go down from the Premier League?

JS: Again, this a total pick and mix, it really could be anyone. You look at Leicester and a few weeks ago they were gone, now they are right back in the mix with a good run-in. You’ve got to look at the remaining fixtures. Sunderland and Hull’s are horrendous, whilst Burnley’s is difficult. I think I would say Leicester, QPR and for the third I would say… I’m really not sure, but I do think Burnley will get out of it and I hope they do. Sean Dyche has done an unbelievable job and if he does keep them up he should win Manager of the Year.

The mission of the Carlsberg fan squad is to make football better for fans. That’s why, If Carlsberg did Pundits…they’d probably be just like you. Jeff Stelling visited Southern finalist, Kevin Clarke, at The Beach House Bar in Worthing to help him prepare for Boot Camp in the People’s Pundit, championed by Carlsberg – the official beer of the Premier League.

To find out how Kevin and all of our other pundits get on in the race to secure their big break on talkSPORT, or to find details of a regional heat near you, head to ThePeoplesPundit.co.uk. Plus, if you’d like to show your support to Kevin, follow him @KevinClarke_ #PeoplesPundit.

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Article title: Football FanCast talks Hartlepool, Burnley and Champions League with Jeff Stelling

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