Mediawatch: Is Ozil an ‘average’ player?

Date published: Thursday 10th November 2016 1:07

The first point that we would like to make to the astonished Daily Mail is that the pink kit is actually a Scotland kit; it’s not been foisted on them by somebody in Switzerland on a mission to make them look like pooves. Adam Shergold writes:

‘It is the oldest international fixture in the world, one of football’s fiercest rivalries and the image echoes down the decades – the white shirts of England against the blue shirts of Scotland.

‘Not this time. At Wembley tomorrow, Scotland will line up in a pink and black strip for the fixture that will make or break their World Cup 2018 qualification campaign.’

Again, it’s not ‘a pink and black strip’ but Scotland’s pink and black strip. So why are they wearing it? Well, because the sleeves of their blue shirt are white and England’s shirt is white, which seems fair enough.

But but but…


(where Scotland’s shirts do not have white sleeves).

Scotland manager Gordon Stracham has dismissed any concerns about the shirt colour – like any normal human being – but Shergold is not finished:

‘But Scottish fans and traditionalists are annoyed, a feeling made worse by the fact Scotland have lost three of the four matches when they’ve worn the pink shirt, which retails at £60.

‘While the first two defeats came against Italy and France, Strachan’s team also wore pink in last month’s 3-0 loss to Slovakia in Trnava, a result that leaves them fourth in qualification Group F and Strachan under intense pressure.

‘And if they suffer a loss to the Auld Enemy on Friday, it could lead some Scotland fans to dismiss the pink strip as ‘cursed’ like the maroon kit they wore just once – in a 2-0 away defeat by Georgia in October 2007 that cost them a place at Euro 2008.’

So a rotten Scotland (with a FIFA ranking of 57) have been beaten by Italy (13), France (7) and Slovakia (26), and people think the shirt is ‘cursed’? The fourth pink game – a win over the Czech Republic (40) – actually suggests to Mediawatch that the pink shirt might be a lucky charm.

Maybe they should have worn pink for the home game with Lithuania (98) they contrived to draw 1-1.


Waiting game
This is how a story on the back page of The Sun begins:

‘GARETH SOUTHGATE will wait to see if Harry Kane is fit enough to face Scotland in tomorrow’s Wembley showdown.’

It’s probably wise.


‘No 1 newspaper’
Good on The Sun for embracing statistics and what a lovely graphic they include to illustrate Dave Kidd’s rather sensible piece about Adam Lallana being a better option than Wayne Rooney as a No. 10 in this England side. And here’s what they say:

‘WAYNE ROONEY (68) made almost double the number of passes for Manchester United last weekend at Swansea than England colleague Adam Lallana (39) did for Liverpool v Watford.

‘But the key is how Lallana played more in the ‘No 10′ role. More of his 39 passes (44%) were in the final third compared with Roo who played just 28% of his 68 passes in the final third.’

Mediawatch cannot help thinking that ‘Lallana played more in the ‘No 10′ role’ because Rooney didn’t actually play in the ‘No 10 role’ at all, but on the left. Surely that’s ‘the key’.

Also, we are a big fan of the single quote marks around ‘No 10 role’; they’re really not comfortable with this.


Brass eye
Just days after this…

(The ‘massive update’ was of course that actually, in the doctor’s own words, “nothing important happened”)

…comes this:

The story begins: ‘THIBAUT COURTOIS’ gruesome-looking eye problem appears to be here to stay.’

But this is the killer line, bearing in mind that there are apparently ‘fears Thibaut Courtois has extensive damage to his sight after horror eye injury’…

‘It is unknown whether there is any damage to his eye, or whether it is simply bloodshot.’

Right. Or as Courtois himself said…

Presumably they won’t stop until somebody actually does go blind. And then we won’t sodding believe them.


U can’t touch this
‘This was one of the most significant moments in football history – and we all missed it’ say the banter boys at The Sun’s Dream Team FC website.

So what was it? Well…

‘Gareth Barry became the first man since records began to officially complete 25,000 touches in the top flight.

‘In 2006, Opta expanded all their stats to included things like touches and chances created.

‘And this is the moment that Barry, 35, completed his 25,000th touch on record and wrote his name in football history.’

Wow. We are truly whelmed. And full of pity for the poor bugger tasked with doing the counting backwards from Barry’s current total of 25,057.

And we absolutely love that they have sneaked this into the the end of the momentous piece, in brackets just so you know it’s not important:

‘(It should be pointed out that Barry has probably had nearer 40,000 touches since his debut in 1998 – but as records did not begin until 2006 this is hard to verify. It is thought that Barry DOES still hold the all-time Premier League touches record, as a holding midfielder who has played over 600 games. But his landmark – the first man to reach 25,000 touches, around the same time as the 25,000th goal – is still one to be celebrated.)’

Hmm. That headline (‘one of the most significant moments in football history’, remember) doesn’t quite match with the vague landmark of a vague statistic from a vague point in time.

Still one to be celebrated though, right lads. Lads. Lads.


Mr Mean

Good question. The answer apparently is ‘we don’t know but we can tell you who is ‘average’ for various statistics because it’s international week and we’re pretty desperate’.

So you’ll be shocked to know that Wayne Rooney and Mesut Ozil – who largely do not play as strikers and thus shoot from distance – have average shot accuracy.

And astonished Raheem Sterling and Jermain Defoe – attacking players both, encouraged to take risks – have average pass completion statistics.

And amazed David Luiz – a centre-half rather than a traditionally tackling midfielder or full-back – has an average tackle rate.

And flabbergasted that Troy Deeney and Matt Lowton – not attacking midfielders or wingers – have average dribble statistics.

Who is the most average player in the Premier League? We don’t know but here are some players who are pretty good at things that are not in the natural skill set of their positions…will that do?



How stuff works, with Adam Lallana
“For me, I’ve been a Liverpool player for two and a half years. Just because we’ve been playing well and have got a good few results doesn’t mean I’m only now a Liverpool player.

“Last year when we got to the final of the Europa League and the Carling Cup I was a Liverpool player then.”

For him.


Note to the Metro
Branislav Ivanovic is most definitely not an ‘underrated player who could prove to be a January transfer bargain’. He’s a bit sh*t now.


Recommended reading of the day
Richard Jolly on England’s chronic lack of strikers
Sam Tighe on Brazil v Argentina
Paul Wilson on a momentous 1996 in English football

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