Mails: Why comparing strikers is so difficult

Date published: Wednesday 25th January 2017 4:53

Let’s face it, this is now going to be a one Mailbox day. Still, send those thoughts in to…


One of a fair number of these
Apologising insincerely for the inconvenience doesn’t relieve me of the horrendous inconvenience.

So F365, take your award-winning writer, take your huge amount of original, high-quality opinion pieces and take your cool, offbeat editorial opinions and shove it up yer ass.

A severely disappointed addict.
Dan – Tigers
(MC – We’re sorry. We’re really sorry. But it wasn’t our fault. If it’s any consolation, the genuinely… erm, some messages of support made us feel warm during the bleak hours).


We need to talk more about N’Golo Kante
Firstly, I know the N’golo Kante story has hardly slipped under the radar, but I feel more needs to be made about HOW good this guy is.

Having listened to Leicester fans on the radio over the weekend, it seems a lot of players have seen their form dip – Drinkwater’s not the same, the defence is leaky and the attackers are lacking the cutting edge. I’d argue Kante is key to all of these things- the ability to break up play, spring attacks and cover the defence all in one small package.

Then he goes off to Chelsea, and manages to make a back 3 including Gary Cahill look competent as well as the wider players looking much better with him in the side.

In both cases, Kante’s athleticism means that his team can play a “different” formation – that in an era of 3 man midfields, Kante allows you to play two in there, freeing up every other player on the pitch. This helps the defense, allowing an extra man covering and/or it helps the attackers by having an extra man up top. Spurs have got the same thing with Wanyama and Dembele, but I do believe that Kante is the difference on this basis alone.

The guy never gets injured, runs relentlessly all game and his attitude is spot on. Maybe it’s time we started talking about N’golo Kante as not just the best player of 2016 but the best player in the league outright or even as a Balon d’or contender.
James (nufc fan who bet on Chelsea to win it)


Wenger’s push is an absolute scandal
A lot has been said over the years as to why Arsenal haven’t kicked on and won more over the past 12 years or so, but how much of this can be down to the manager setting the tone? I’m surprised more hasn’t been made of his unbelievably immature antics over the weekend.

Not only did he cry like a baby when a penalty was awarded against him – a penalty that was obvious to the naked eye and even more blatant with replays – he decides to call the officials cheats as well as pushing the 4th official. Throwing his toys out of the pram only looked worse when Arsenal actually got a penalty themselves – again obvious to the naked eye – which allowed them to win anyway. Surely these childish acts are unnecessary and paint a picture of a right twunt – how can the players possibly respect that? It’s twice now that he’s very publically pushed someone that he’s unhappy with, and luckily for him, the other side was mature enough not to push back and escalate. The pushing screams of a insecure bully who is trying to say “yeah, I may be skinny but I’m well hard really and you better not mess with me” – exactly the kind of attitude that we’re trying to teach the younglings to avoid.

What are the players supposed to think when their manager acts like a baby? The above, along with his obvious settling for 4th place sets the tone for the rest to follow. As in everywhere else in life, if you stay still, you’re actually moving backwards because everyone else is moving ahead, and it’s no surprise that there is a top six that may just knock Arsenal out of their comfort zone. I wouldn’t be surprised if his mediocre, unimaginative attitude also has a part to play in his obvious unawareness of tactics and robotic substitutes, along with the ridiculous injury list churned out every year.
The Big P, Vancouver


Let’s just call this a big rant on Guardiola
Celebrating Pep’s demise… not because of him but because of you.

Toasting to Guardiola’s inevitable comeuppance. I think guardiola is a good manager. But never the demi-God he was built to be by fawning overly-friendly sycophantic urban liberal media. There are better managers than him. Ancelotti is a better manager than him. No marketing. No media. Just carletto. As good as an aeging wine sitting there waiting to be enjoyed. His teams are always balanced. Never get thrashed. They go forward with sense. They win. They show grit. Along with Bob Paisley, the only manager in history to win 3 European Cups and the only one to do it with different clubs. Try that and having no press..

But back to Pep. Why is he such a darling? For starters, the despair that “journalists” or writers at Football365 display for pep to succeed is somewhere between pity worthy laughable and/or vomit-inducing. Pep is somehow the complete package. Not just is he polished, multilingual and sophisticated, but he’s definitely in the bag with the globalists. (In case you couldn’t tell, F365 is a hugely globalist site..)

Why? Because he’s all about selling this image of an “enlightened” being (kind of an urban zen master) who transitioned successfully from football and went into managing but also writes books and gives much-vaunted speeches for hefty amounts of cash. Furthermore rejects his spanish nationality whenever he can placing his catalan identity in its place. There’s an old youtube video of his playing days when he says in spanish “the laws forbade me to play for my country so I had to play for spain… my country is catalonia”..

Now, this itself is enough for a globalist to get wet.. Since globalists deem the nation state and any form of nationalistic pride “as a thing of the past” (hello donald trump & brexit, marine le pen, etc) belonging to archaic, religious and undeserving, rural, nearly peasant types Pep plays right into their narrative. Strangely though, he rejects his country of birth by upholding a regional identity which is in itself just another form of nationalism. But all that will be forgiven by liberal journalists since that exercise of sheer contradiction and nonsense logic is a staple of liberal logic.

Back to football. Pep was supposed to be this incomparable genius. Yeah… when he had Messi around he surely managed to make us all believe that lie! After he left the Messiah’s golden left foot and ventured to Germany all he could muster was local dominance, which, given the overwhelming size of Bayern in comparison to its Bundesliga rivals, is not saying much. Each and every time he faced – of all countries – a Spanish rival in Europe he got either unforgettably humiliated by Real or Barça and/or kicked out by much smaller (in bankroll and glitz) Atletico Madrid.

Remember against Madrid it was 0-5 aggregate (Carletto’s Madrid)… 0-4 at Munich. Against Barça it was 0-3 at the Camp Nou. They got out on away goals against Simeone’s hard fighting but little talent squad. The master tactician eh??? The one you’ve spent the best part of the many years upping and upping as though he was the biblical tower of babel. The one I love to disparagingly call “calesitero” (merry-go-round) for his penchant for 859 useless passes that lead to nowhere except to a brilliant quote to sell books that leave urban liberal idiots fawn in awe. It was always about having Messi inside the football pitch. And outside the football pitch, well, it was mostly about pushing your liberal narrative and talking points through the new poster boy or hipsters choice.

Odds are he’ll get the sack sooner than later. Or would you say otherwise? I’m celebrating Pep’s demise… not because of him but because of you.
Raúl H. García


On Rooney and the problem of comparing goal records
I am neither a Rooney or United supported and wondered whether Derek’s assertion that Rooney’s GPG average was worse than several other players, including Henry and whether it would have taken Henry 177 more games to get another 24 goals.

Well, Derek, the problem with data is that there are several ways to interpret it. Not in the Sean Spicer, alternative facts way, but more moment in time.

First, going to Wikipedia and looking up the goals scored as shown by Derek, just didn’t add up, until I realized Derek was being selective. Comparing Rooney’s time at United to Henry’s time at Arsenal (first time round) only. Clearly this doesn’t take into account international games or games played for other clubs. It might compare one player at his prime with one team to another through their entire career and so on. When comparing their full club career both players GPG get worse but the gap narrows and when including international appearances the gap narrows further. Point is, against any of these other players, the comparison is a moment in time and traditionally goalscorer work to a bell curve with their best years in the middle. Heck, Suarez and Crespo played for a very short period in the EPL at their peak.

And neither of these compare minutes played. What if someone played quite a few games as a sub? Whether after injury or form or the team buying in other players? The term game could mean 90 minutes on the field or 90 seconds. That’s why many stats to compare use minutes played per goal.

Finally, what about assists or as they show in the NHL, +/- points, indicating how well a team does when a certain player is on the field? These would indicate the greater value of a player. We are all on about how well United play when Carrick is in the team, for example, regardless of the goals or assists because it is understood his overall value. Sure Rooney is a ‘striker’ so the consensus is that he can only be measured on one scale – goals.

Does any of this mean Rooney is better or worse than the rest? I really don’t know and not the point. The point is the way people see one piece of data and decide to use to bolster their own theory – and deliberately leave out the rest. Not quite in the Spicer realm but certainly a lot of spin.
Paul McDevitt


Football book recommendations
As I picked up “The Damned United” from the public library today, I could not help thinking about how few good football books I have read.

So, I thought I would cry out and beseech to the good football enthusiasts, connoisseurs and mailbox readers and ask them what the best football books they have read are, and give them some of my favorites as well.

(My biggest personal disappointment is that I do not think I have ever read a good biography / autobiography of a football player / manager., akin to books in other sports like “Open” by Andre Agassi or “Playing for keeps – Michael Jordan and the world he made” by David Halberstam)

“The numbers game: why everything you know about soccer is wrong” by Chris Anderson and David Sally (I actually think this is a much better read than soccernomics), “The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro” by Joe McGinnis. “Outcasts United” by Warren St. John (in our troubled times, could there be a more heartwarming story) and saving the best for the last, “Inverting the Pyramid” by Jonathan Wilson .

What a fascinating read the last one is. I cannot describe the book in a better manner than quoting a line from the introduction:

“It is not even so simple, though, as to say that the ‘correct’ way of playing is the one that wins most often; there must also be room for romance. That tension – between beauty and cynicism, between what Brazilians call futebol d’arte and futebol de resultados – is a constant, perhaps because it is so fundamental, not merely to sport, but also to life: to win, or to play the game well? It is hard to think of any significant actions that are not in some way a negotiation between the two extremes of pragmatism and idealism”

Looking forward to your recommendations. (No partisan books please, like why Liverpool or Manchester Utd is the best club in the world by a fanatical fan)
Vinod (YNWA), Chicago
(MC – Your first port of call is our top ten football books.)


On Patrick van Aanholt
The Patrick van Aanholt transfer is intriguing. He’s been a slow developer, to say the least, yet by the end of last season he was playing consistently well for Sam Allardyce at Sunderland. But he’s the sort who can switch off on defence, and when he does, he plays worse than almost any fullback in the history of football.

This was particularly evident at the weekend vs. West Brom. David Moyes put him at left wingback in a 3-4-2-1, which meant he was up against Matt Phillips. With van Aanholt’s pace, it was a good choice, if he’d been on his game. But he didn’t show up, Phillips ran riot, and Sunderland were embarrassed until Albion decided to close up shop.

As Ed pointed out yesterday, van Aanholt and Jeffrey Schlupp play the same position. But at Palace they can make an appealing left-side combination, one in the back line, the other in midfield. That means the club might let Andros Townsend go on loan to Newcastle, which has been the subject of negotiation. But either way, van Aanholt has to get back to last year’s form very very quickly. If he does, he’ll be an excellent acquisition.

And then there’s Joleon Lescott…
Peter G, Pennsylvania, USA


Another idea on head injuries
I’m glad that the subject of head injuries is getting some traction again, there’s no other injury I have seen on a football pitch can do as much potential harm and it should be treated as such by fans and officials alike. What’s equally frightening is that the effects of head injuries are often beyond modern medical treatment – changes in personality, loss of cognitive function etc.

My half arse idea would be immediately withdrawing any player with a head injury from the pitch for a minimum of 10 mins whilst they are assessed by an fa appointed doctor like in boxing/ mma. You could bring on a sub with the option of swapping back in the injured player when/ if they are passed fit.

Also, a couple of mailers have suggested the technology for determining offside either doesn’t exist or is unproven. I’m no computer whizz but surely that’s bollocks. Hawkeye is proven in cricket and tennis and it does a much more complicated job of predicting and modelling the flight of a ball. All you’d need to have for a digital lines man would be either 1) a program that maps each player and the ball via overhead video or 2) each player and the ball to be fitted with tracking devices – I can’t see why that would be an issue seeing as the players probably train everyday with trackers and heart monitors on, and the smallest gps trackers are fricken tiny. I’m basically guessing at all that though.
Matt, AFC


Quizzes on F365 now? I have been playing with fire for years now but the countdown before I get sacked officially begins today.

I will now also be investigating how on earth these players scored this many goals:
Gabriel Agbonlahor – 74
Carlton Cole – 41
Hugo Rodallega – 24
James Morrison – 23


Jamie O’Hara does not seem like a nice chap
I wrote in (published!) before Christmas with the shirt comment that Wayne Bridge seems like a nice chap.

In the latest in an occasional, irregular series, Jamie O’Hara does not seem like a nice chap.
Dave, BAC

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