Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Told You So

One of Correspondent Ed's Readers Protests His Absence From Our Pages
photo by BinaryApevia PhotoRee

Correspondent Ed is back with four random thoughts.  Apparently he couldn't think of seven this week:

1. Team USA:  Well, I was totally fooled.  The commentators this past weekend had USA soccer as being terrible compared to the athletic Jamaican team that hadn't been scored against.  It turned out, though, that Jamaica is terrible, and they proved it by missing two easy scoring chances in front of the US goal early in the game.  Of all players, it was the coach's son, Bradley, who both lost possession sloppily and was lazy in getting up field to keep the Jamaican's onside.  That said, the better team won, and did so handily.  Jamaica is not in the US team's league yet.  Now onward to Panama, another team I expect the US to beat, and then into the finals against Mexico, a team the US defense will likely struggle with.  

2. Seven Meters per Second:  That's apparently how fast Thierry Henry ran in his prime whenever and wherever he was on the pitch.  For those of you who'd like some math to go with that, seven meters per second is the equivalent of running a forty yard dash in 5.08 seconds.  Not fast?  Well, for Henry, that's not his full speed, that's his gait around the pitch speed, and it's something he was doing for what I would guess is 5 to 6 miles a game.  Astounding.
This knowledge comes from a fascinating and depressing article the Financial Times regarding the statistical analysis of football.  Fascinating because it seems the statisticians are beginning to unlock the items that make football players better.  Depressing, for a few reasons.  First, I prefer there be some mystery to sport.  Kind of like Big Blue ruining Chess -- it could still be thought of as more of an art before a big database could just win every time.  Second, it will have the effect of doing what the NFL combine does to players -- eliminate the great players who aren't necessarily the best statistically.  What if you run only five meters per second, will you even be considered?  And what are the bizarre metrics that players should be focussing on?  One would like to think ball control, vision, and other difficult to measure intangibles would be paramount, but apparently not so much any more.

Well, just like me to criticize something just because it's new.  Let's give it it's chance.  Liverpool, apparently, have the guru of statistics, and he was behind the Suarez and Carroll deals.  As much as I don't like it, I'm a believer that these two will produce.  With respect to Suarez, he already has.  I suspect Liverpool will be tougher than people realize next year.  Ownership does make a big difference in a club, and these Henry's know how to put together a team.  Which brings me to . . . . .

3.  Chelsea:  It's hard to see what more Carlo Ancelotti could've done with last year's team, but apparently second place wasn't enough for the coach, so onward to a new coach.  The new guy gets an aging Lampard, an aging Drogba, an aging . . . . well, pretty much everyone.  At least he has Torres, the Michael Owen of Spain.  Actually, that's not fair, at least Owen's decline had to do with injuries.  As for Torres, I'm not sure what he's doing these days.  Hopefully resting and seeing a sports psychologist.

4.  Final Thoughts:  Still waiting to see what happens with Charlie Adam and David Vaughan.  I hear Vaughan is close to a deal with West Brom, though the Tangerines have made him a "big" offer to return.  As to Charlie, Liverpool still looks like the place he'll end up, but nothing's done yet.  I'm thinking Spurs may still just be in the mix. . . .

This is farlieonfootie for June 23.

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