Billy Macfarlane returns to TFN with his take on the use of statistics in football…
Football is a sport with no place for statistics. It is a sport which is organised chaos. Moments which decide results are so few and far between that there is little use in trying to predict them. The emotional legacy of results on fans is the most important aspect of football to understand. From this point we can begin to qualitatively argue about the best players and sides but no conclusive answer can ever be reached.
Football is a sport inherently based on statistics. Quantitative measures of the number of times each side makes the ball legally cross the goal line result in teams receiving either 0, 1 or 3 points or progressing in a cup competition. From this point we can begin to quantify, analyse and predict the impacts of players on the causation of goals and securing victory. These measurements can be produced objectively regardless of who compiles them.
This, of course, is a false dichotomy. Those favouring qualitative appreciation of football do not view goals and points as irrelevant to making judgements. Likewise few of those who argue in favour for the importance of statistics would actually argue that there is no room for subjectivity and that you can form your judgements based purely on graphs and numbers. Continue reading →
James Dutton looks at two lessons from Liverpool’s recent past for Mario Balotelli…
Mario Balotelli is at a crossroads. In fact, Mario Balotelli is always at a crossroads.
Every decision he makes, however crucial or anodyne, is analysed for its far-reaching consequences and wider meaning by somebody somewhere. Every pass, every run, every shot, every turn is scrutinised and pored over in minute detail like every dismissal suffered by Kevin Pietersen. The record-breaking batsman once famously said, “It’s tough being me in this dressing room”, and you imagine the Italian knows where he’s coming from.
This scrutiny reached new peaks at the weekend when he was patronised by commentators for working the channels and tracking back; like a schoolchild receiving a gold star for a sympathetically deficient piece of homework.
In reality it was a seven out of 10 performance for a footballer fully capable of nine and tens, but who has mostly hovered around the fours and fives since his £16m to Liverpool from AC Milan.
For Liverpool to be stuck in this position with a misfiring multi-million pound striker is nothing new. Andy Carroll will always pop into mind when the term “expensive flop” is bandied around Anfield, but for now Balotelli is neither of those things; £16m is not a lot of money in football anymore, and there is still time for him to rectify his career on Merseyside.
The two strikers of recent Anfield past whose difficult starts run most in parallel with Balotelli’s own are in fact Peter Crouch and Robbie Keane. Continue reading →
Alex Stewartponders the true meaning of the international break…
Break, n. among other things:
6. An interruption or a disruption in continuity or regularity: television programming without commercial breaks.
7. A pause or interval, as from work: a coffee break.
8. A sudden or marked change: a break in the weather.
(From the free dictionary on the internet)
The international break, as a thing, provokes a variety of responses. A quick and in no way scientific survey conducted on social media earlier by yours truly revealed an array of responses which ran from the wholly positive to the suicidally inclined (injuries, etc etc). A quick trawl of internet-based relevant content shows a predisposition for mordant articles on the impact of said break, the opportunities it creates for club/country schism, luxated joints, and general fatigue (With football itself, even? Is there too much of a good thing?).
Actual fans, not thrallish hacks, seem to run contra-narrative and quite enjoy the change, though some express a genuine and understandable lack of interest based on: aforementioned ‘too much of a good thing’; partisan loyalty to club outweighing country; England not being as good to watch as [insert team of your choice here]. Without doubt, though, the ‘international break’ provokes a myriad of responses and a range of conflicting emotions/thoughts (is emotion too strong a word for this? Not if you’re Brendan Rodgers).
The origins of the phrase ‘international break’ are themselves murky. Wikipedia merely states that it is a “period of time set aside by FIFA for scheduled international matches per their International Match Calendar. Continue reading →
Having enjoyed quietly assured starts to the season, James Dutton and Hugo Greenhalgh assess the rising fortunes of Jordan Henderson and Aaron Ramsey – the undroppable footsoldiers of the revolution…
After a low-key opening three weeks to the 2013-4 Premier League season, 58 goals scored at a rate of less than two per game is a significant departure from the norm. And yet the focus of this season’s infancy has not been shone towards rejuvenated swashbuckling defences, but to the goal scorers making the difference at the ‘business end’ of the pitch.
Daniel Sturridge and Olivier Giroud have attracted headlines for possessing predatory instincts that have fired Liverpool and Arsenal towards the top of the table, and currently the pair share the golden boot berth with Christian Benteke.
Scratch underneath the surface, however, and you will find an unlikely duo who are no less vital to their respective sides, who provide the elbow grease and unstinting work ethic without which the teams would self-implode. The beginning of this new league season has witnessed the continued renaissance of Jordan Henderson and Aaron Ramsey, and confirmed their centrality to how Liverpool and Arsenal perform. Continue reading →
Liverpool Echo: “LFC’s Pepe Reina tweets removal van picture as he packs up to go to Napoli.”
With the usual fire, brimstone and vitriol whirling around Luis Suarez’s future, Jon Wilmore considers whether Liverpool have a leg to stand on after ditching Pepe Reina…
Liverpool are outraged. Their fans are outraged, their manager is outraged, their club mascot, presumably, is outraged. How dare Luis Suarez make clear his intention to play football in another kit. It’s disrespectful, is what it is: disrespectful for a player to ask to leave and classless for another football club, namely Arsenal, to do their best to make that wish come true.
Elsewhere on Merseyside, Jose Manuel Reina is in the process of packing up the last eight years of his life and all his worldly possessions from his Liverpool home. He’s recently informed his wife and newborn child that they’ll be moving to Italy this summer, for how long, well, we don’t really know. In less than 12 months, Daddy might be looking for work somewhere else.
With claims that his abilities had begun to deteriorate over the past two seasons, for some neutral observers it seemed that time could well be called on the once impregnable Spaniard’s reign in goal sooner rather than later. Yet, as Reina and his young family wave goodbye to their adopted city, did Liverpool show – in line with the expectations and feelings of their fans – the class and gratitude to at least bid their loyal servant a fond farewell? No, that’s right. They loaned him out, quietly through the back door, without telling him first. Continue reading →
The False Nine’s Scott Jenkins praises the remarkable stories of this year’s Capital One Cup finalists: Bradford City and Swansea City…
It’s 24th January 2000 and the Manic Street Preachers are Number 1 in the music charts in the UK. The world is rejoicing as the Millennium Bug hasn’t surfaced and robots have not taken over the land. Carlos Roa has just retired from goalkeeping duties at Real Mallorca due to his Adventist beliefs however. Continue reading →
The False Nine’sJoe Bookbinder is being won over by the Pozzos’s running of Watford and believes, under Gianfranco Zola, the Golden Boys are in safe hands…
When the Pozzo family bought Watford last summer there was an air of excited anticipation, twined with slight trepidation. The Udinese and Granada owners brought financial security, at least in the short term, to a club who have had to make do with a very tight budget. And make do they have. Continue reading →