Mails: No good reason why Man United can’t win the title

Date published: Tuesday 24th July 2018 8:57 - Daniel Storey

Keep your emails coming to…


Manchester United shouldn’t be 7/1
With regards to the 7/1 odds a few points:

* If the odds weren’t that bad when Moyes was charge in charge who ever makes them probably doesn’t know enough anyway.

* Can we please stop using gaps as a reason team XYZ won’t win the league for illustration , There have been different league winners every year since 2008/9 and Man U alone have finished ahead of teams in the last three seasons who topped the league and finished 17, 15 and 24 points ahead of them the year they won. So it’s not insurmountable.

* You’ve got us needing to buy five players, how? We don’t specifically need to replace Carrick, He hardly played last year, it will already be a struggle playing Fred,Matic, Herrera, Fellaini, Mctominay and Pereira. A back-up Striker ain’t going to play with Jose’s love of Big Rom so might as well use Rashford. So that leaves the other three of which really a competent CB and RW are essential and will probably require someone else buggering off.

* World Cup fatigue: Really wasn’t this the same site who complained that Jose was bleating when he mentioned he had players away at the World Cup.

* Liverpool Mean Business: But they’ve meant business quite a few times in the last 28 years hows that worked out.

* Which leaves me with me Jose’s mood and style of play and really, if he’s going to be a moody c*nt and play dour football, then not winning the title and him finally sodding off is basically win-win
Timi, MUFC


And there’s really no need for negativity
Am no United fan but I say let’s wait and see re the pessimistic atmosphere around Man Utd’s pre-season.

City will find it hard to reproduce the highs of last season – not for any rational reason, but simply due to it being notoriously difficult to win the title 2 seasons in a row.

Liverpool are, well, Liverpool and Klopp is, well, Klopp, so they will implode at some stage. Also as you point out in your article re Utd long odds, Salah will definitely not have the same season again.

Arsenal seem to have a good coach and had a good transfer window but they are Arsenal and will not change into title-winners overnight.

Spurs are, well, Spurs. Like Liverpool. Will again come 2nd in a one-horse race. Also the problems that apply at Utd (no transfer; players tired from a long World Cup) also apply to Spurs.

Chelsea have a new coach, unsettled players and if they are challenging or the title, it’s not clear how.

So Utd could find a way. Let’s not kid ourselves, they are in no worse shape than any of the other contenders.
Mike (CFC) from Auckland


A fair assessment of where Liverpool are at
Some good emails in the morning and afternoon on Liverpool expectations this season.

I personally would be delighted with any finish between 1st and 3rd position and I’d be quite happy with 4th as long as it was a comfortable 4th and not a nail biter like last season.

I think this season Spurs might have a tough time at the start of the season. They had 11 players who played in the final weekend of the World Cup and they do have quite a tight squad. If a team were going to fall beneath us from the existing top 3 it might be them.

Man City are already miles ahead of everyone plus Mendy/Jesus should play the full season so they will end up marginally better than they currently are. You’re relying on fatigue or teams really attacking them and getting lucky in order for them not to win the league. It seems unlikely the CL will distract them because they’ll probably have the league wrapped up by February.

Man Utd have DDG, Pogba and Lukaku which is a very sexy spine but it’s too soon to rule out the classic Mourinho 3rd season so maybe if we are lucky they fall away but seems unlikely. Hopefully they struggle to do much more business and some of their bright sparks (like Martial) move on without being replaced well.

Chelsea are impossible to predict until Courtois and Hazard’s futures have been resolved. If both leave then 5th is the best they can hope for. I can’t imagine them being able to replace either player with an equal. Arsenal are very hard to predict but they’ve done a lot of business and good business too in some cases. If Spurs fall away because of fatigue I’d like to see Arsenal finish top 4 ahead of Chelsea.

For what it’s worth I think right now Liverpool have done the best in the transfer window which is causing the revised expectations but it’s worth remembering we were quite a long way off Man City and Man Utd to start with; we needed to do this just to get a bit closer.
Minty, LFC


And it could be a lot worse…
It’s rubbish being a Newcastle fan. The season is over 2 weeks away and some of our fans are already planning protests (it’s all very civil and in some ways creative at the moment). And it is all so predictable, Daniel Storey hit the nail on the head with his recent article.

We are bereft of hope despite finishing a heady 10th last season and now appear to be some kind of experiment in parsimony by Mike Ashley. All we want is a little improvement in the squad. Most Newcastle fans are aware that the days of us competing with the big boys was 20 years ago (we were linked to Ronaldinho!).
God even writing this is p*ssing me off.

I’ll be there on the 11th with my season ticketed friends to watch us valiantly get beaten off Spurs (again) despite being the better team (again) and Sir Harry being a dirty bastard (again)…it’s just like last season but without the unknown.

We are going to struggle and will be lucky if Rafa is still our manager come kick off.
Paul (I am a fly! Trapped in a jar of shadows!), Newcastle


A statistical assessment of Alisson
Wanted to point our man Rob (amateur keeper) in the direction of the expected goals (xG) stat which has existed for a few years now. Just as Rob laid out, xG takes into consideration position the shot is taken from, position of the keeper, etc. I’m not an expert but Michael Caley is:

“xG uses a whole bunch of indicators based on Opta’s on-ball event data – where on the pitch the shot had been taken from, what part of the body was used, the type of pass that had set up the chance, how quickly the move progressed down the pitch before the shot, the proximity of the opposition players, and so on – to determine exactly how likely it is that a particular opportunity will result in a goal.”

This lovely little stat tells us for example that Alisson allowed 28 goals versus an xG Allowed of 37.46 in Serie A matches. So he outperformed the statistically average keeper by +9.46 xGA. Another xGA vs. Actual GA calculation floating around twitter (which I believe includes League & CL matches) has De Gea +18, Oblak +15, Alisson +12, Courtois -1. Ederson was even, but that’s more due to Man City having an extremely tight defense last year. I’m struggling to find an exact current stat for Butland, but his xGA vs Actual seems to fall somewhere around even (with significantly more shots faced than Ederson), and puts him more in line with Mignolet than Karius, let alone Alisson.

You can really go down the rabbit hole on this one. One article about the Alisson signing pointed out that he performs roughly average against shots with high xG (ie. big chances that you expect the average player to score more often than not) – shots that even De Gea struggles to save. But Alisson significantly outperforms the average GK on all other shots – pointing to very few brain farts a la Mignolet fluffing a Xhaka shot from long range or Karius letting Sané score near post.

All this to say, the GK stats that Rob is looking for are already out there, and are increasingly being used by both professional journalists and amateur stats geeks on twitter/fan sites/SB Nation blogs/etc. Sometimes you just need to google a bit to find them.
Danny, LFC NY


Ozil and Kaepernick
Sports are meant as an excuse from day to day activities for most people where they can forget about their routine lives for a couple of hours and the athletes are just seen as entertainers. While reading Ozil’s statement on instagram, I couldn’t help but think of Colin Kaepernick and what he went through after he knelt during the anthem.

Kaepernick was dragged by NFL owners, media outlets, and even the President for his protest and trying to awareness for the systematic racism and police brutality going on in this country. It’s almost been two years since Kaepernick took a knee and there are multiple media outlets that talk about him even though he has been blacklisted from the NFL for over a year now. The reason because he has inspired multiple athletes to use their platform to discussion about discrimination, while inspiring young people that are of color like myself to call out actions of discrimination on social media and shame those who discriminate using their status on social media.

I hope Ozil has the same impact on children that have immigrant roots in Europe as well as his fellow sportsmen and sportswomen to stand up and say something about racism in their communities because once athletes realize they just don’t have to “shut up and play” they can not just inspire kids to be professional athletes but young adults that can make a huge difference in their communities buy rising against discriminatory actions.

As a Chelsea fan I thought I will never say this but this is bigger than just a sport, #istandwithozil.
Ermi (Uli Hoess said ozil was ‘shit for years’, wasn’t he the one who spent 35 million on Renato Sanches) USA, 20


On Everton, Richarlison and Big Sam
50 million for Richarlison. I can understand the bafflement of it. It’s an absurd amount of money for a young man who played about 10 good games for Watford last season. But there’s a few things to say about this – not necessarily justifications but merely to flesh things out a bit. Firstly, it’s actually reported at being around 35 million, ‘rising’ to 50 million. Still a crazy amount of money for such a player, but nowhere near as fun as the 50 million being thrown around.

Otherwise, this is clearly a Marco Silva thing and in some ways it’s nice to see the club trust him on this. He is obviously convinced he can get the best out of Richarlison now and into the future and – while an admittedly small sample size – history suggests he’s right.

There’s also been talk about this being somewhat of a peace offering to Watford for the whole Silva fiasco. Taking one of their (potentially) best players doesn’t seem like much of an olive branch, but I kind of get a lack of hard bargaining as a means of making such a statement – could also all just be bollocks though.

Mostly though, this transfer screams of what could be a major problem for Everton – and similar clubs – into the future. Enough money and heft in the market for other clubs to quote massive prices for any players they sniff around, but not enough yet to chase truly major players worthy of such prices. The result is the club needing to spend lots of money on younger, promising players who they have to hope will eventually justify the fees paid for them. That’s been – let’s say hit and miss – so far.

But brings me to my next point. Big Sam. Now I’m not actually on the Allardyce hate wagon. I won’t lie, I’m glad he’s gone and he’s clearly a total bellend; but despite the god-awful football, the 8th place finish and bringing in Walcott and Tosun were actually reasonably positive outcomes of last season given the start we had.

But on this occasion he has no idea what he’s talking about, beyond simply not knowing his successor’s name. I won’t pretend I’m too involved in the Everton fan community, but from what I can glean people are actually reasonably optimistic – outside of the characteristic Everton grumpiness.

Sure, people would love to challenge Liverpool right now and win the league next season. But we know Everton won’t and can’t, given the point above. So seeing a clear plan for a future where that might happen is equally exciting. Everton have some of the most promising young players in the league, and under Silva are being consistently linked with more, while older players are being quietly moved on.

Some of it won’t pay off, clearly, but it’s exciting to see something that feels like it’s being built for the longer term. It actually baffles me that Allardyce can’t – or won’t – see that. You’d almost think he was a bit bitter.
Will (sorry, that was long) Wymant, EFC


All the alive World Cup winners
World Cup stats interest me more than anything else as I’m a massive weirdo, so here’s a reply to Dom:

None of the members of the 1930, 1934, 1938 or 1950 squads are still alive.

There’s one member of the 1954 squad still alive: Horst Eckel

Six from 1958: Mario Zagallo, Pepe, Dino Sani, Moacir, José Altafini and Pelé

Excluding the aforementioned Zagallo, Pepe and Pelé, there’s six from 1962: Coutinho, Jair Marinho, Altair, Mengalvio, Jair da Costa, Amarildo

There’s 15 of England’s 1966 squad alive: Banks, Cohen, Stiles, the Charlton brothers, Greaves, Hurst, Bonetti, Peters, Flowers, Hunter, Eastham, Hunt, Callaghan and Paine

Of Brazil’s 1970 vintage, only Carlos Alberto, Fontana, Everaldo, Joel Camargo and Félix have died. Excluding Pelé, who’d already won the tournament twice by then, that leaves 16 first time winners.

West Germany’s 1974 side are all still alive bar one, Heinz Flohe, leaving 21 first time winners

Argentina’s 1978 side only lost its first members this year, with the passings of Rúben Gálvan and René Houseman in March, leaving 20 still alive.

Only Gaetano Scirea has died of Italy’s 1982 vintage, leaving 21 winners alive.

José Luis Cuciuffo is the only member of Argentina’s side in 1986 who has died, but they only have 20 first time winners, as Daniel Passarella won it first in 1978.

No members of any squads from 1990 onwards have died, but two winners from 2002 need to be subtracted, as Cafu and Ronaldo both won it first in 1994.

It should also be noted that from 2002 onwards there were 23 players in a squad instead of 22.

Doing the maths, that means that as of 23/7/2018, there are 306 World Cup winners alive:
71 Brazilian
67 German/West German
46 French
44 Italian
40 Argentinians
23 Spaniards
15 Englishmen
0 Uruguayans (the last Uruguayan World Cup Winner to die was Alcides Ghiggia in 2015, 65 years after he scored the goal to make Uruguay World Cup Winners)
Akash, lifelong Oldham fan

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