Mails: Ross Barkley’s unfair reputation

Date published: Wednesday 14th October 2015 9:54

Plus falling for Harry Redknapp’s latest missive, the last word on minnows/qualifying, finishing third, Wales and headlines…

If you have anything to add on any subject, you know what to do – mail


Redknapp: Still trying to be relevant…
I see ‘Arry is still trying to be relevant.

But I don’t understand where the story is about Liverpool talking to Ancelotti. Its highly likely the recruitment team contacted more than one potential replacement for Rodgers. As would anybody recruiting for an important position.

Presumably Carlos also replied with “not looking for work at the moment” when asked if he’d be interested in discussing the position.

Ah well, only a few more days of s**t mongering until there’s meaningful football again.
Rob, London


…And falling for the bulls**t like a kipper
Well that has well-and-truly p*ssed on my chips. For the last few days since Klopp’s appointment I’ve been on cloud nine, just itching for the international break to be over so that our Jurgen could sweep all before him, both with his footballing philosophy and his blindingly-white teeth.

I was also pretty chuffed with FSG. Liverpool fans the world over had spoken as one to demand a managerial change, the owners had listened and Christmas had come early. That was until the news broke yesterday that Klopp was only offered the job after Ancelotti had turned it down. Mind. Blown.

As a Liverpool fan I have to trust that our Board know more about football than you or I – we are the spectators, they are the experts.  So the fact that they didn’t rate Klopp as the best choice for our team suggests that, but for all the crowing of the nation’s newspapers, maybe he isn’t really as good as we/he/the media thinks he is. I mean Rodgers talked a good game didn’t he? I bet he was just as beguiling in his Liverpool job interview. Who’s to say that Jurgen will fair any better?

I apologise if I’m rambling but I’m so confused right now.
Nick, YNWA, Northampton


Barkley: Not sloppy
I always look forward to the World Cup/Euro Ladder after a round of internationals and was particularly looking forward to your thoughts on Ross Barkley, but after reading yet another comment on your fine website Barkley that highlights the urgent need for Barkley to ‘eradicate the sloppiness from his game’ and other concerns I’ve read elsewhere about the regularity with which he gives the ball away I thought I’d have a look at his stats on Whoscored.

As someone who has watched pretty much every minute of his games this season I’m confused to see it highlighted so often as it’s not really something I’ve particularly noticed him do to an extent noticeably more than other players, part of his job is to take risks with the ball so he will inevitably lose possession occasionally but it seems to me that a lot of the praise of him comes with caveats about his ability to keep possession that I don’t seem to notice other players get (perhaps I don’t pay as much attention to it, obviously I’m going to take more interest in Everton than other teams I admit).

Taking the information from Whoscored, I tried to select attacking midfielders with a creative responsibility within their team. I also selected the specific stats that I could find that I think would be indicators of a player losing possession or ‘sloppiness’. The players I chose to compare him with were David Silva, Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Memphis Depay, Philippe Coutinho, Riyadh Mahrez, Raheem Sterling, Roberto Firmino, Dusan Tadic, Andre Ayew, Juan Mata and Mesut Ozil. Here’s what I came up with:

Barkley has been dispossessed on average 1.9 times per game this season. That’s the third best on that list of players, behind Mata and Ozil. Barkley has lost possession through a bad touch 1.1 times per game, the joint fourth best behind Silva, Mata and Firmino. His pass success rate is the fifth best, behind Silva, Sterling, Mata and Ozil.

Now am I missing something obvious here? I’m genuinely interested to know. From what I have watched of him this season, and from the actual statistics taken from these performances I’m struggling to see how Barkley deserves such criticism regarding his ‘sloppiness’. I don’t recall many of the above players (with the exception of Depay admittedly) that seem to have any praise tempered with such caveats.

I admit that this is not an exhaustive list, and I threw it together in about 15 minutes over lunch, but based on the above I can’t really see how this current reputation for ‘sloppiness’ is so deserved.
Tim, EFC


The last word on ‘minnows’ and qualifying
Andy, London
seems to have stirred up a bit of a storm in a teacup. But most of the responses to his comments have been at best hypocritical and at worst down right condescending. They have also raised a couple of misconceptions.

Firstly on the ‘difficulty’ of qualifying groups before the qualifying draw UEFA ranked all 54 sides based on performance over the previous 4 year cycle (France of course were ranked but not placed into a group). This gives a (fairly) objective ranking of the sides. Based upon this there are two possible ways of determining the ‘difficulty’ of a group. Average pot position or average European ranking.

Either way two groups stand out as particularly ‘difficult’. Group A (Dutch) and Group I (5 team group). (Both had an average pot position of 3 and an average ranking of 22). The next hardest group was Group C (Spain) (4 and 27). The “easiest” group(s) were group D (Ireland and Scotland) and Group B (Wales), the average pot position was 7 and average ranking was 30. Not fair I hear all the Scots, Welsh and Irish cry as they are sure their groups were actually impossibly difficult but the facts do not bear this out.

The point is the actual difference in difficulty of a group is fairly minimal. Over the draw one or two groups may be slightly easier than others but they don’t really stray far from a medium difficulty. No group had all the best teams from each pot, no group had all the worst teams. Some teams have performed better than expected (NI, Albania) others worse (Netherlands, Greece). But all had a relatively equal shot at qualification. With a group system there is no way to make the draw fairer than it is already.

Would everyone prefer the bottom 14 teams play head to head then the 46 remaining teams play a one off match for qualification with no seedings. 23 winners go to the Euros.

Secondly on the how plucky sides like Iceland have been. Iceland lost over 2 legs to miss out on World Cup qualification. They are far from the best team in the world but they have not come from nowhere. At the turn of the millennium the KSI (Iceland FA) made a number of decisions which have revolutionised both the style of play and the quality of coaching that is received by youngsters in Iceland.

For those people who don’t know where Iceland is it’s about 3000 miles north of London, near the arctic circle. As a result the weather can be a bit **** for much of the year. The result of this is a very short football season and for a long time most sides played a very ‘functional’ brand of football.

So how to get round these problems. The KSI built all weather pitches, lots of them. Both inside and outside. Full size and mini. They are also all owned by the municipalities (councils) meaning everyone has access, not just the professional teams. This means that you can teach technical skills all year round.

They also completely redesigned the entire coaching system. They now have coaching programmes at UEFA A, B and Pro License Levels which are available at cost price around £70 for the 5 module to get UEFA B. The equivalent course in England costs £940 for a non FA coach club member. The result is at last count 70% of all coaches coaching any age group or gender have at least a UEFA B license. So even if you are playing for your village side the chances are you are being exposed to properly trained coaches. Numerous studies have shown that there is a window of opportunity to coach technique to youngsters 8-12, after that it becomes much harder to pick it up.

This generation of Icelandic footballers are the first to be exposed to this new approach from such a young age, unsurprisingly they are performing at a much higher level than any previous Iceland side. They have not come from nowhere, they have introduced a sensible approach, nationwide for everyone and will reap the rewards for a long time to come.
Colin (Sorry it’s turned into a thesis, feel free to split it over multiple mailboxes), Watford


Moral of the story is not to finish third
– Italy finish 3rd at Italia 90 and two years later failed to qualify for Euro 92.

– Sweden finish 3rd at USA 94 and two years later fail to qualify for Euro 96.

– Croatia finish 3rd at France 98 and two years later fail to qualify for Euro 2000

– Turkey finish 3rd at Japorea 02 and two years later fail to qualify for Euro 04.

– Germany then for two World Cups in a row spoil the sequence. Classic Germans!

– And then back to form the Netherlands finish 3rd in Brazil 14 and two years later fail to qualify for Euro 16.

So in conclusion unless your Germany, finishing 3rd at the World Cup is pretty damning. It’s a real kiss of death.
Bradley Kirrage


Should have been more about Wales
I would just like to start off by saying I really enjoy your site, the articles, columns and news and check it every day on a regular basis. I’m sure you get no end of comments of fans complaining of favouritism, this shouldn’t be treated as such, however I would just like to stress a point

Whilst I can appreciate the majority of your writers are English nationals, this week has been an unbelievable week for me personally, as my home nation of Wales reached its first tournament for 58years, an unbelievable achievement for a side with such limited ability. Not only this but Ireland have reached the play offs and Northern Ireland have also had an unbelievable achievement by reaching the Euro’s also.

There has been hardly any coverage on your site regarding this, other than the odd small article, and personally I find it sad. This is not only a qualification for those nations, this is everything, this may never happen again for Wales. Whilst I can appreciate England are expected to qualify with ease every tournament, it shouldn’t take away from what these smaller nations have achieved and considering that they are home nations and several of their fans visit their website, I do feel that the lack of comment of any of this disappointing.

Just thought I would pass on my thoughts.
Dean G
(MC – We really would like to do more on ‘other’ things, but only have so many resources. The Mailbox therefore becomes are a good arena for it)


An important question
According to yesterday’s Guardian Fiver, there are rumours that Big Sam might appoint Peter Reid as his assistant.  Has there ever been a management team with more PFM points?

Harry Redknapp and his QPR entourage could come close, although Chris Ramsey seems too nice and Glenn Hoddle too weird for a night on the Old Spice and cleaning product daiquiris.
The literary Ed Quoththeraven, CPFC the Glaziers, Notts


A squad of reserves?
Number of Arsenal players in the England squad according to the famous Football 365 ladder? 4.

Number of English players in the Arsenal 1st XI? None, maybe Walcott at a push for one.
Ray, Manila


If it’s a good headline, it’s Winty
I would like to say well done Storey (maybe Winty?) whoever it is that came up with the last mailbox headline.

“For those about to crock – forget it” Just made my day. Keep these AC/DC song references rocking up on the site now and then.

I salute you, F365.
Jay (See what I did there?) AVFC


Don’t fight the power
Sky Sports Power Rankings
are right about Zouma. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that every Chelsea player not currently playing is in better form than those that are.
Alex G, THFC


The eternal outsider
With the tournament just around the corner, it is pleasing to see Phil Neville still in with a chance of making Roy’s 23.
Simon (like death and taxes) Agar

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