Best posts of the week:
Chosen by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes.
1 – Jeff on the importance of developing young players rather than just relying on the transfer market:
Let us assume for the sake of argument that both Nat Phillips and Caoimhin Kelleher have shown enough this season to not only become a part of the firs team squad but he Klopp has the confidence in to play in matches going forward and my play in matches going forward I mean in matches that matter. They may well not be members of the regular starting 11 but they are part of the rotation policy practiced by Liverpool.
Does this confirm my belief that young lads need matches in the first team in matches that matter to show they belong in the first team in matches t hat matter? I would say YES Does it mean that the academy and reserves are doing a far better job developing young players than has been appreciated? Well, we see a program that has developed TAA and Joe Gomez and it may well be that these two lads are just the latest evidence of the quality work being done and the evidence supports the notion that more high quality young players are on the way. Does it make sense for Liverpool to develop young players than to look to the wonderful world of transfers for players? YES not only from the financial point of view but also from the point of view of have a steady supply of lads who actually know how Liverpool play and are already a part of the club’s culture. I know most supporters look the the club’s activities in the transfer market to see the club is serious about winning but to me the evidence supports the notion that what is happening in the youth ranks is where we need to pay attention to the future of the club. Will the club’s youth program fill all the club’s needs? NO but it will save the club a massive amount of money and free a massive amount of money to spend on the players rated by the club.
Some times in this world one has to recognise change and one of the major changes in the club is that it has put a priority on developing its own players are we are seeing in the cases of Phillips and any number of other young lads that it is succeeding. In the world of covid-19 and its impact on Liverpool’s finances this shows how smart and how well run the club is and how well placed it is going forward.
2 -Tony Mc on mainstream journalism’s attitude towards complaints about the standards of officiating:
Recently, I e-mailed a well-known football journalist who has a declared public allegiance to Liverpool FC and who is employed by a national “quality” newspaper. In my e-mail, which included my full name, address and telephone numbers, I included a few biographical and career details (easily verified on Google) in an attempt to establish my credentials as a responsible, respectable, sensible, level-headed member of society rather than a swivel-eyed conspiracy theorist. I then set out my views on PGMOL, a cabal of Premier League referees, VARs, etc – essentially, that they are involved in a corrupt conspiracy to ensure that some Premier League games end in a pre-determined outcome to the advantage of certain teams and the disadvantage of others (including Liverpool, of course). I received a prompt, polite but short and blunt response – that although the journalist agreed that VAR was ruining football, they did not subscribe to any conspiracy theory, preferring instead to believe that individual incompetence was the issue with Premier League officiating.
Fair enough, I always make room for views that are different to mine. But a week or so later I listened to that “quality” national newspaper’s weekly football podcast. The first issue for discussion amongst the host and three football journalists (including the one with whom I had corresponded) was the standard of officiating in Premier League games. The host began by saying that there were a number of conspiracy theories circulating on social media about the Premier League referees, VAR, etc and invited views from the journalists. The journalist with whom I had corresponded went first and explained that they had recently seen a significant increase in their inbox, mostly from seemingly well-educated, respectable and articulate correspondents (they rather patronisingly said that the correspondents usually wrote in joined-up sentences with correct spelling and proper punctuation) all of whom subscribed to similar conspiracy theories involving PGMOL, referees, VARs, etc. The four participants in the podcasts – no doubt, all self-proclaimed seekers of truth and justice – then proceeded to ridicule, patronise and dismiss those who held these views. “Lockdown lunacy” was amongst the terms used to describe this very common view of corruption in football.
And this is a huge part of the problem. Mainstream football journalists, broadcasters, pundits, etc all have a vested interest in maintaining the ‘big lie’ that the Premier League is the best in the world and nobody wants to examine issues such as corrupt officials even when the evidence is staring them in the face.
I would be delighted if the finished article from Paul was taken seriously by the football media and led to serious questions being asked of Riley and co – but I won’t hold my breath.
3 – Paul Tomkins on some surprising results from research on Premier League penalties:
Things like possession are being looked at.
A good point on the balance between attacking players and defensive ones. It’s hard to say for sure, as it’s not always forwards but centre-backs who can win penalties, from corners, etc. And then there are attacking midfielders and defensive midfielders, and whether a full-back is an attacker these days or still a defender.
Before I revisited the data, I’d written this last month, for the aforementioned article (which I will re-write once we’ve done all the data mining and analysis), even if it is cherry-picking some outliers:
… Now, no two players are equals. The counter-argument – to explain the statistically significant disparities in the data – would be that English strikers are more dangerous and English defenders are more competent.
Does that make any logical sense? I’d argue that it makes no sense at all.
Between 2017-2019, the attacking “foreign” talent included Kevin De Bruyne, Sadio Mané, Eden Hazard, Leroy Sané, Sergio Agüero, Mo Salah, Roberto Firmino, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David Silva, Alexandre Lacazette, Paul Pogba, Richarlison, Raúl Jiménez, Romelu Lukaku, Son Heung-min, Gabriel Jesus, Riyad Mahrez and Anthony Martial. These all appeared in the top scorer or top assister charts in either or both of the seasons in question. Many of them were (and still are) very quick, direct and skilful.
Between them, from 2017 to 2019, those 18 players won just 26 penalties, at an average of just over one per player in a two-year period, or half a penalty per season.
Now look at just nine England/English players: Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Wilfried Zaha (grew up in England, and briefly played for England), Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Danny Ings, Glenn Murray, Marcus Rashford, Andros Townsend and Jamie Vardy.
Now, there are some good players in there – and a handful of excellent players – but also a couple of very mediocre players. Those nine alone, in the same timeframe, won FORTY-TWO penalties, at an average of 4.6 per player. Half as many players (nine vs 18), to win a total of 62% more penalties. Far less quality per player overall, but winning penalties at a rate more than three times as many as the aforementioned foreign players.
4 – El Indio replying under Bob’s piece about asking questions:
I’m in conflict with what you’ve mentioned, Bob. (I’ve been for sometime when I first read it)
In the world that some of us operate from, and we aren’t necessarily looking at the fault finding/guilt exercise, we are looking to find a root cause for the problem.
The 5 Why analysis, which I’ve used in the past and I believe many have used in the past, has been in use for a long time and your article has just incinerated the idea of using it. And the framework completely depends on finding the cause with an interrogative technique. So if we replace the Whys with Hows we will be left with a never ending pathways of probable answers but never the exact root cause.
There needs to be a level of certainty to go down that path and fix the cause of the issue or problem. (I’m actually done with the shouting blame on someone as since Covid it doesn’t help my mental wellbeing and I don’t want to be stuck around with a solvable issue by playing the blame roulette when there are more productive issues at hand)
Also many folks don’t agree with the probable list of causes and would want a reason for the fault. How do we change this then? Humans definitely in the business world want to live in certainty that the problem has been identified and fixed. I’m not sure how different probability of possible problems might help them aspire confidence in themselves that the problem at hand has been identified and later solved.
I would love to try with ‘How’ (I’m not sure if there is even a definite number of 5 or 6 Hows to get to answer) but I’m struggling to think of a framework that would help.
5 – Mekokrasum on the analysis of ‘dominant’ teams:
Bravo, Paul. Absolutely brilliant work, even though we haven’t seen all of it yet… Totally agree with Alastair – this metric of touches in the penalty box just highlights the dominant side. It probably does not suggest bad refereeing. Man Citeh and Liverpool have been the best possession wise over at least the last 4 seasons with a lot more time spent in the opposition box whereas their opponents venture more rarely in our boxes. Better minds on here would conclude that the statistical result of this is that both clubs will inevitably feel ‘penalised’ and unfairly treated at both ends. The low scoring nature of football and the counter-attacking tactics of ‘weaker’ teams means that a higher percentage of our opponents chances in our penalty box are going to be good chances, CCCs, goal scoring or penalty deserving.
Those stats on foreign players, albeit including some very quick guys are alarming! I totally appreciate that players like Sané are so fast and flexible that one may not genuinely know whether it is momentum taking them down. However, the results look improbable to be down to chance; for me it is “proof” of bias against foreign players. I am enraged by this as it is totally scandalous even if it has been done subconsciously. It is a form of racism and is technically illegal! In my opinion, this ‘bias’ in penalty decisions invalidates the whole period 2017-2019 and calls into question the validity of results in previous seasons 😉
Is there a way of knowing if a correction could be applied for those foreign players’ “missing penalties” and what the League positions would have been ?
Articles published since last Friday, with excerpts:
Tuesday March 16th:
In the study we looked at 17 different referees, who each refereed Liverpool, City, United, Chelsea, Spurs and Leicester at least four times from 2015 onwards, and most of these refs have officiated clubs much more frequently than that. Most of the most punitive refs for any of the six clubs I covered turned out to be least generous to Liverpool, and we need to try and figure out why.
As such, I am also working with a TTT subscriber who is a Harvard/Oxford alum currently leading a development team at one of the world’s biggest companies (and who has an interest in this kind of thing), and he is finding all kinds of aberrations in Liverpool’s numbers.
But we have also found that certain other clubs have what seem unfair decision totals, and we will highlight those too.
However, Liverpool appear the hardest hit in almost all metrics.
Apart from one: yellow cards received.
Thursday March 18th:
It’s Not Just the Question You Ask, It’s How. And Why. by Bob Pearce
Our ‘Why’ questions back us into a corner and we come out boldly ‘becausing’.
If we like this some-such-and-such that has happened (what we call ‘good’ in ‘closing’ words), we will praise this some-thing-or-other. If we don’t like what happened (what we call ‘bad’ in closing words), we will blame them. Our ‘Because’ answers get us all praisey’/’blamesy with our world. This what-ever-it-was has happened as a result of what-cha-ma-call-em doing what-ever-in-heck-it-was. So we say what-cha-ma-call-em is to ‘praise’/’blame’.
We reckon to be Sheriff of ‘Because Town’, driven to look here and there, hoping to find someone and something to point a finger at and decide it was their ‘credit’/’fault’. We can all speak rough and ready ‘Cause-and-Effect’ and look for someone and something to ‘praise/blame’ in our neighbourhood. If what-not hadn’t done what-have-you, then this what-ever-it-was would not have happened. Somebody had to be to ‘praise/blame’.
Our ‘Because’ answers make us take sides. Our ‘Cause-and-Effect’ eyes see action driving down a one-way street. Some apparently active ’causer’ pushes a supposedly passive ‘effectee’ around, and they then allegedly became another causer, shoving more seemingly passive effectees about. In our giving-pushes and getting-shoved picture, passive things supposedly stand about waiting for active stuff to come along and do its thing to them.