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Carragher, Mane & Liverpool hat-trick: Why raging pundits will kill their influence and legacy

COMMENT: Jamie Carragher was at his best last week. The mentor. The advisor. Twenty years of experience. Of credibility. Of leadership. It all came together in Porto for one stolen moment...

"He's my good friend," Sadio Mane, with the matchball under his arm, said of Carragher after his hat-trick against Porto.

"At half time he told me to score more goals, I said I would try and luckily I got three goals today so I'm happy."

It may've lasted barely a minute, maybe two, but Carragher's intervention was positive. It made the difference. For the better of Mane, Liverpool, even English football. The 5-0 away result a first for Premier League teams in the Champions League.

The integrity that comes with 20 years at the top of game. The credibility. When an ex-pro like Carragher speaks, with his background, players listen. Well, you'd like to think they would...

But what of Carragher the pundit? Can his integrity survive Carragher the TV personality?

What if that quick halftime chat wasn't with a 25 year-old Mane? What if it was with a lad five, six years younger? Someone who had next to no idea of Carragher the footballer, but knew plenty about him from the box. Would the same approach have the same impact?

We're singling out Carragher here, but it could apply to any one of his generation.

Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand... On the pitch, they won the lot. They reached the top of the game. With so much to offer English football, the vast majority are now moving into the media.

But when Carragher says of proven, Premier League players, "This is Sunday League, Hackney Marshes defending". When he brands pros as "cowards". What impact does that have on his ability to impart his experience onto younger player?

When Carragher pulls a young prospect aside. Someone who he can see has potential. Is a positive word from Carragher the outspoken pundit going to have the same force as it would without the public hyperbole?

Why would a young lad take his words to heart when all he knows is this is the same man who was claiming Per Mertesacker couldn't get a game on Hackney Marshes? Why would he take such advice, no matter how genuine Carragher is with it, seriously?

This column knows of one ex-player who's life came in contact with the former England captain Terry Butcher. Butcher coached the player, who was football mad and knew all about his career. A centre-half, the lad worked with Terry at 18. Butcher pulled him aside one day after training to tell him, "you're as good an 18 year-old I've coached". A young, impressionable centre-half being told by one of England's greatest that he has something? The kid didn't come down for a week. You could see it in his approach. The way he conducted himself. That little bit of lift from a genuine legend made a big difference. And he went onto carve out a great career for himself.

This is what you want for Carragher. That in five years' time when he approaches a young pro with a bit of advice, they're going to listen. But with every rant about players being "cowards" and playing the stuff of the "Sunday League" it has to chip away at an ex-players' credibility with the next generation coming through.

Again, this isn't just about Carragher. They're all at it. Climbing over eachother to be the most outrageous. Seeking that little sugar hit of ratings or likes.

But don't get us wrong. This isn't about finger wagging. We understand the panto. We love it. Just look at Jose Mourinho last week and his "liar" blast for those on the TV couches thrashing out where it's all gone wrong for Paul Pogba. It's entertainment. Great entertainment.

But if some of these ex-players want to do more than just talk about the game that has given them so much, they must know the rants and raves will eventually work against them.

For Carragher and his ilk, there's going to come a time - if the hype continues - when the TV pundit overtakes the great English footballer. And that's going to be a real shame. Because these members of the famous golden generation have so much to offer the next wave coming through.

And as valuable as the advice is, it's influence is going to fall well short if it's coming from the boom-bust culture of today's football pundit.

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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