Kevin Keegan has declared he does not like listening to female pundits talking about the England men’s team.
The 72-year-old said he had “a problem” with “an England lady footballer” providing expert analysis of a match involving Gareth Southgate’s side.
Keegan, who played for and managed his country, made the remarks to an audience of around 250 people to have bought tickets to An Evening With Kevin Keegan OBE in Bristol.
In comments reported by The Times, he said: “I’m not as keen, I’ve got to be honest, and it may not be a view shared. I don’t like to listen to ladies talking about the England men’s team at the match because I don’t think it’s the same experience. I have a problem with that.”
His remarks were said to have drawn some applause before he continued: “The presenters we have now, some of the girls are so good, they are better than the guys. It’s a great time for the ladies.”
Keegan insisted that he was fully behind the development of women’s football.
“But if I see an England lady footballer saying about England against Scotland at Wembley and she’s saying, ‘If I would have been in that position I would have done this’, I don’t think it’s quite the same. I don’t think it crosses over that much.”
Keegan was nevertheless full of praise for the quality of women’s football.
“It is a great time for the ladies’ game,” he said. “When I was England manager [from February 1999 to October 2000], I went to coach the England ladies and I had this perception of what the quality would be like and they were so much better than I thought they were going to be.
“I joined in and then I thought, ‘I’m getting out of this’. I couldn’t get the bloody ball and one of them nutmegged me, that finished me off.”
‘A lot of pundits now talk too much’
Keegan was also critical of modern pundits more broadly, accusing them of talking “too much”.
Admitting his own days commentating on football were over, he said: “I worked with Brian Moore, who was the best. At a World Cup final he would say, ‘Kevin, don’t talk too much, let the pictures do the talking’. A lot of the pundits now talk too much. Don’t keep talking, talking, talking. They don’t want people like us any more, our day is gone, it’s time for the next generation.
“There are some very, very good lady presenters and I’m working with one in two days’ time, Terry Yorath’s daughter, Gabby [Logan].”
Keegan said he watched less football than he used to and even branded Manchester City, whom he managed from 2001-05, “quite boring” to watch.
“There’s a lot of football on TV now, I’m very selective,” he said. “I used to watch almost every match but now it’s just if it’s [his former clubs] Newcastle or Liverpool, or Southampton to a lesser degree.
“I even find with Man City they are good but they can be quite boring to watch because of the pass, pass. I don’t think there is anything wrong with knocking a ball into the box. It’s not as exciting as it was.”