Manchester United are well represented in the media, but which of their former players makes the biggest impression on our television screens?
As befitting their status as England’s most well-supported and most successful club, it’s rare for any live match not to feature an ex-United player offering their hot take on the action unfolding in front of them.
We’ve identified the seven former United players that regularly feature on Sky, BT, ITV and the BBC and ranked them from worst to best.
Note: this ranking encompasses their whole contribution, rather than just their United opinions.
7. Michael Owen
Owen’s reputation for blandness is common knowledge; the guy would spend an entire Warehouse Project sending his companions to sleep with an avid discussion of mortgage prices as UKG plays in the background.
But we reckon this is slightly overblown. The former England striker has interesting insights into the art of goalscoring and regularly informs the viewer about the specific skills required to thrive in the role.
However, such nuggets of wisdom are hamstrung by his tone of voice. Owen cannot do much about that, but it remains a peculiar mix of arrogance and anodyne.
6. Paul Scholes
Famously reluctant to engage with the media as a player, Scholes is now a regular pundit on BT Sport as he looks to secure some post-footballer coin.
Close your eyes as the former midfielder bemoans a United defeat and his analysis sounds uncannily similar to Karl Pilkington speculating on the merits of Chinese street food.
But Scholes is necessary; when boosterism and overhype plague the coverage of live football, his cynicism is somewhat refreshing.
5. Dion Dublin
Normally found shivering on the touchline of a lower-league club before their moment in the BBC sun, Dublin is a jovial presence and his opinions are normally fair.
But we think his punditry suffers from a lack of substance that also hampers the likes of Micah Richards and Joe Cole. There’s a reason he only rarely covers United games.
Still, he’s a man of multifaceted talents. You can’t imagine Roy Keane presenting Homes Under The Hammer, can you?
What have you done with your bank holiday morning? I've spent mine putting together over two minutes of Dube inventor Dion Dublin saying "stairs going up to the bedrooms". pic.twitter.com/moEZkOxNTa
— David (@discokidnap) May 6, 2019
4. Owen Hargreaves
Much like his playing career, Hargreaves’ contribution in the studio often goes unnoticed despite offering a number of astute opinions.
While not as bombastic as some of his colleagues, the former United midfielder gets his point across effectively and his Canadian-English hybrid accent is beguiling.
We hesitate to rank Hargreaves any higher though. If he’d chosen another post-career path, it’s hard to imagine anybody pining for BT to hire him.
3. Rio Ferdinand
In another life, Ferdinand would’ve made an excellent hypeman; his proclamations whenever Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo are playing would’ve earnt him a place at the court of Julius Caesar or Henry VIII.
His enthusiasm and wide-eyed wonder make him an invaluable link between the generations and the former England defender is regularly asked to cover the big matches for BT Sport.
Ferdinand also wears a suit very well, the kind of quality which doesn’t seem important until you imagine Jake Humphrey hosting the Champions League final in lycra.
2. Gary Neville
It happened to Jimmy Hill. It definitely happened to Alan Hansen. And it’s happening to Neville; the most prominent pundit in the country is slowly becoming a caricature of himself.
Neville was a breath of fresh air upon his arrival in the Sky Sports studio in 2011, quickly becoming an authoritative voice on both football and politics.
But we’ve noticed a slacking in Neville’s contributions in recent years; his insistence on saying ‘football club’, becoming obsessed with mentality over skill and a steadfast refusal to give Arsenal or Mikel Arteta much credit for their excellent season.
That said, Neville is still one of television’s leading voices when the mood takes him.
1. Roy Keane
We love Keane. You love Keane. His appearances on Sky Sports and ITV are appointment viewings, with nobody quite knowing what’ll set him off.
There’s a suspicion that Keane is playing up to his reputation, and he is certainly a more nuanced character than his reputation would suggest.
And we’re big fans of his tinder-dry sense of humour and shy smile that suggests an endearing uncomfortableness with accepting praise.
A worthy winner.