Monthly Archives: September 2013

He Can Do No Good.

Michael Dawson, for all he has done, is everyone’s favourite scapegoat.

The  criticism of him is fine. No player is infallible. apart from Jan Vertonghen and Mousa Dembele.

What alienates me is that everyone disproportionately focus on all of his mistakes, very few mistakes, while conveniently forgetting all the good he has done.

The most recent incident of this is the goal Chelsea scored against. Neither Dawson nor Vertonghen were at fault for this goal. Vertonghen was at fault for the lead-up which I’ll get onto. You can see from the picture below that the line they are holding is superb (thanks to none other than Michael Dawson but let’s not accredit him with that because he can do no good). All of Lampard, Terry and Ivanovic are behind the line but Mousa Dembele, who had an absolutely stupendous game, is playing them on.

If anyone is to blame for this goal, it is Mousa Dembele.

I don’t even blame him. Upon closer inspection, it looks like Ivanovic is pushing Dembele who, in turn, plays Terry, Ivanovic and Lampard onside.

Nonetheless, you’re never going to see a referee blow up for that.

Vertonghen was the player who gave away the free kick which this goal was scored from. And it was the most bone-headedly stupid free kick ever.

No it wasn’t but it was stupid.

There was no need to give away the free kick. Both Mousa Dembele and Kyle Walker were covering and the touch was heavy enough that Lloris would have been able to cover. It was just a rush of blood to the head.

The Double Standard

This is what really alienates me. Both Vertonghen and Dawson had similar games, in terms of quality. Both completed 1/2 tackles. Vertonghen completed  1 interception, Dawson 2. Vertonghen completed 1 block (both crosses and shots are included in this stat), Dawson did, as well. Dawson completed 6 clearances, Vertonghen 7. Dawson completed 44 passes, Vertonghen 35. And neither were directly at fault for the goal, Vertonghen was indirectly.

Vertonghen was clearly more riled up for whatever reason, and it cost us. We love a player who is passionate in a derby but it inevitably leads to a negative outcome.  

You might as well be looking at the same player. Yet Dawson was castigated, chastised, lynched, quartered, guillotined, eviscerated, berated, lambasted and stoned last night on Twitter and other media.

The same thing has been happening for years now but one incident absolutely epitomises this. Against Tromso, Kaboul and Dawson both missed a tackle, in succession. I can get over people berating Dawson when the two similar incidents aren’t like two seconds apart. It’s easy to forget in the emotion of a match.

Kaboul jumped into a tackle and missed

Dawson jumped into a tackle on the same player a half second later and missed

Kaboul escaped criticism. Dawson was lynched.

I know it’s the done thing. I know mob mentality is very prevalent in football. I know we want him to be Paolo Cannavarro in a guise.

But, please, can we stop scape-goating Michael Dawson?

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Filed under Double Standards in football., Michael Dawson

Success or Pride?

Out for a run this morning. Listening to a podcast of BBC Radio 5 Live. The question came up; “Would you prefer Stoke to play beautiful football and be in the Championship or play turgid football and be in the Premier League?” Premier League with turgid football was unequivocally the answer.

BALLS, BALLS, BALLS.

I say this is wrong on so many levels that I cannot begin to comprehend it. I know why the Stoke fan said so, the value of immediate results has spiralled out of control. Clubs and fans lose track of the long term future all too quickly.

The values of the game I grew up to love are now dispensable in the voyage for results. Footballers are now being exploited and automaton-ised (I’m 1000% certain that isn’t a word), anyone that has; I AM THE SECRET FOOTBALLER will know. In short, the author hasn’t had a weekend with his mates in 12 years, wasn’t able to attend his best friend’s wedding and wasn’t able to attend many funerals of loved ones, all in search of immediate results. I’d go as far to say these are basic human rights. And then people complain about Andros Townsend having some banter…..

Back to the point of the post.

I must be able to condone what the team I support, be it England, Ireland (my background is complicated) Spurs, is doing before I can support them. I mean that 100% literally. I haven’t been able to support Ireland for the last 5 years while Giovanni Trappatoni has been in charge. Trappatoni employed a system with long balls, hard work and, worst of all, a complete disregard for anybody with something approaching technical skill. Trappatoni has had a successful tenure, all in all, He got us to the Euros, he should have gotten us to the World Cup but Thierry Henry is [insert-multiple-explicit-derogatory-terms].

I could not care less.

Trappatoni’s tenure has been excruciating and I want to forget as fast as possible. He won us games at home and didn’t lose for 30-odd games (26, I think) away from home but he did it through nefarious means. The means is more important than the end in football because you only experience the end for a fleeting moment, you have to endure the means for the rest of the game. I could never be proud of any victory.

If Tottenham were taken over by Tony Pulis and we started playing long-ball football. I would not be able to support Tottenham, I would watch them but strictly as a neutral. I couldn’t condone our actions during the game, even if it won us the Champion’s League. I’ll reiterate, the end doesn’t justify the means even in this hyperbole.

As an extension to this, I wouldn’t ever welcome Luis Suarez, if he were to sign for Spurs. I couldn’t justify his presence at the club even if he scored 100 goals for is 10 games.

If I were a Barcelona fan, I wouldn’t be able to support Barcelona if they failed to Éric Abidal’s when he was suffering from Liver cancer.

If I were a Swindon Town fan, I wouldn’t be able to support the employers of Nile Ranger.

If I were a Birmingham City fan, I wouldn’t be able to condone their employment of Marlon King.

In fact, I’m taking a long and hard look at myself in the mirror. I’m seriously struggling to condone the actions of a club that has boycotted an anti-homophobia campaign because no prior consultation, It’s coloured laces. What consultation do you need. Or a club that still hasn’t given Darren Anderton or Ledley King a memorial.

That club is none other than our very own Tottenham Hotspur.

Luckily, those are isolated incidents.

The point is this, I must be proud of the team before I can be proud of it’s successes.

If I ran for mayor of London and got there. But I got there by murdering, extorting and corrupting anyone who stood in my way. I couldn’t condone my actions and I wouldn’t be proud of my successes.

If Tottenham won the Champion’s League by similarly deplorable  means, I wouldn’t be proud of it.

I’m machiavellian in my belief that the end justifies the mean but not when the end is so fleeting.

Follow me @ImmenDimensions.

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Filed under The modern game

The Advantage of Inverted Wingers.

Bush has been bet, fruit has fallen, leaves have died. This is an article about Aaron Lennon  and Andros Townsend.

Traditional Wingers vs. Inverted Wingers

I believe both are of equal ability at what they do but what they do is different. One is more advantageous than the other. This is why.

Traditional wingers are a dying breed.

In the old game, a wingers job was to get in behind the defense and cross for the striker to score. One of the best wingers to ever wear the Spurs jersey was Cliff Jones. Though he was before my time I have heard about him. He was natural left footed. He was ambidextrous, truly two footed. In his time as a Spurs player, he scored 135 goals. The vast majority of his goals came when he cut in from the left and rifled a shot into the net. Even when traditional wingers were the motif in football, inverted wingers were always head and shoulders above them.

The same is true today.

The best wingers are always inverted wingers. It isn’t necessarily because they’re more talented.

A traditional, to-the-byline winger is only ever passively searching for the ball, only ever passively impacting on play. A traditional winger is, by design, a touch-line hugger.

An inverted winger is constantly searching for the ball, constantly trying to get involved in play because they can. they aren’t shackled to the touchline. 

Involvement, the greatest asset of an inverted winger.

A player’s output is based off of two variables, how much they are involved and how much they do when they are involved

A traditional winger is only sporadically involved in play, by design. That is fine with me. I’m never going to play a player for the type of player  he is. It’s like blaming Jan Vertonghen for not being a striker.

But that’s as an aside.

We have one of the best traditional winger in the league in Aaron Lennon. However you can be the best winger in the world and you won’t have the same impact on play as an inverted winger. This is because you simply aren’t involved in play as much as an inverted.

Felling with a blunt axe

Even when a traditional winger is involved, it is so easy to defend against simply because it’s so monotone. You know from the moment Aaron Lennon receives a ball what he’s going to do. He’s a head-down, hell-for-leather speed machine. To stop a traditional winger, all you need to do is sheperd him to the byline and either block the cross or let it sail onto the head of your centre back (Soldado or Defoe aren’t winning any headers any time soon). Either way, we’re not going to score many goals this season with a traditional winger

To substantiate; here is Aaron Lennon’s passing chalkboard in the game against Crystal Palace:

We can see in this that Townsend is much more willing to come inside and vary his play. There is little end product in Lennon’s chalkboard. He rarely gets into a dangerous position,  again, because his play is so monotone.

Andros Townsend, on the other hand, has many more tricks up his sleeve. He could very well come inside for a shot, he could play a reverse ball or pass it off to Eriksen (or whoever happens to be the trequartista on the day) or pass it to either of his full backs. Or he could burn the fullback and go to the byline and cross. Just because he can. His options are vast in comparison to those of a traditional winger an Aaron Lennon.

Inverted Wingers in action

The example that prompted this article came against Norwich

Embedded image permalink

The picture is ordered left-to-right & top-to-bottom.

In the first slide, we can see Norwich have a rigid backline. There seems like there is no immediate way through and certainly if Townsend went to the byline one of Michael Turner or Sebastien Bassong would cut the ball out.

In the next slide, we can see Townsend coming inside and opening up space that will be exploiting later.

In the third slide, we can see Leroy Fer, Bradley Johnson and Javier Garrido have all been dragged inside by Townsend’s incisive run. Paulinho is left in acres of space that would have otherwise been occupied by Garrido.

Eriksen passes to Paulinho and the rest is history.

It isn’t even that Townsend is greatly better than Townsend. He’s not but the manner in which Townsend plays in greatly advantageous for any team. His driving runs for the heart of an opposition’s defense open up gaps that others can exploit.

For this reason, Townsend is a starter over Lennon

Don’t get me wrong, I think Lennon has an important role to play. I’m salivating over him coming off the bench but i think he is a bench player this season.

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Filed under Player analysis, Tactics

Is the Moose wading in deep water?

I have been waiting to write this post since the start of the season, Dembele’s great performance versus Norwich on Saturday prompted me.

Dembélé before the international break

Much has been made of Mousa Dembélé’s sub-par performances. Or what appear, superficially, to be sub-par performances.

Anyone that follows me on Twitter knows that I have been somewhat bemused by Dembélé’s superficial sub-par performances.

It appears Dembélé has regressed.

I don’t subscribe to that in the normal sense of the word; “Regress”

When somebody says that a player has regressed, I immediately associate a drop in performance level. Dembele’s performance output has dropped but his performance level hasn’t dropped.

Let me explain.

A player’s output in a game is based off of two (main) variables, the level of performance and the level of involvement.

This way players who are highly involved in a team’s attack and/or defense looks better than a player who isn’t. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the player is at a higher level of performance. At a very fundamental level, Townsend was involved in Tottenham’s attack very sparingly last season. This season he is involved and his output has increased greatly but his performance level hasn’t increased proportionately.

The theory holds true for lots of players. The example most familiar to Tottenham fans is Clint Dempsey. Every attack Fulham had in 11/12 went through Dempsey. He was the core of the attack. When he joined Tottenham has was at the periphery of the attack. This theory can be applied to Gareth Bale, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Aaron Lennon (United at the Lane, he was the core of the attack and went HAM), Adebayor and, finally, Mousa Dembélé.

So has Mousa Dembéle regressed or is he just less involved?

At a very simple level, player involvement is how long you spend with the ball at your feet. Lloris spends very little time with the ball at his feet, he is little involved. Walker spends a lot of time with the ball at his feet, he is involved.

Everyone will agree he was ‘sub-par’ versus both Swansea and Crystal Palace (Arsenal are omitted because everyone was horrendously, awfully, laughably bad, which will taint his stats). Tottenham completed 381 passes versus Swansea. Mousa received 34. 9% of our passes.

Against Crystal Palace, Tottenham completed 434 passes, Mousa was received 27 passes in 57 minutes. Hypothetically, that would be 43 passes  Dembele received 10% of our completed passes.

On the surface an average of 9.5% involvement seems OK for a team of eleven but consider that the CM’s are the players most involved in both a 4-2-3-1 and a 4-3-3 and that we dominated totally but had little penetration meaning the ball was often in the middle third of the field.

To contrast Étienne Capoue was involved in 57 passes against Swansea and 19 in 33 minutes against Crystal Palace or a hypothetical 51 passes.

In a random game I chose (Tottenham versus Everton at the Lane) Dembele received 12% of Tottenham’s passes in a game where he was subbed off after 75 minutes, Hypothetically, if Dembélé stayed on, he’d have received 14.4% of our total passes.

In another random game, Swansea at the Lane, a game very similar to yesterday’s game in that we totally dominated, he received 18% of Tottenham’s total passe.

In the finally game chosen at random, Reading at the Lane, Mousa received 76 passes out of 544, a total of 14%.

The mean of these percentages in 15% compared to 9.5%.

It might seem like a nominal difference but it’s not. Over the course of a game, it equates to being involved in 3 minutes more of the time your team has the ball.

Dembélé after the international break

Dembéle was much more involved in the game against Norwich. Tottenham completed 563 passes and Mousa received 72 of these. A percentage of 14. He’s not far off the mean for last season and it showed yesterday. Norwich threaten with a few swift counter attacks and Dembele was there to stop them all. Dembele is near his best once  again.

Mousa Dembéle hadn’t regressed, he was just less involved than last season.

To answer my own question, The Moose isn’t wading in deep water, he’s parting the red sea.

Follow me @ImmenDimensions

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Filed under Mousa Dembele, Player analysis, Tactics

Yid

In which I break down why the FA banning the word Yid is stupid.

Framed:

It’s almost as if Tottenham have been framed for a crime they didn’t commit. A crime they were subject to, in fact. Blaming the murdered person for being killed. Laughable.

The objective of this is to alleviate anti-semitism in the stands. That is fair but Tottenham are the subjects of the anti-semitism. Banning the defense-mechanism that Spurs developed themselves, while the FA were frollicking about in their offices doing a grande-total of nix, is nonsensical. The FA are blaming Spurs fans for being associated with a club who is associated with Judaism. Quite a tenuous link, as you can see. The decision itself is stupid and somewhat morose, as it shows how backward and asinine the FA are.

Offensive

Really? It’s offensive to a group of fans who have inherited, made it their own, made chants about the word & the legends of their club using the word & who have fought ardently to defend it’s usage. Really?

There is an argument out there if it’s offensive to just one person, it shouldn’t be used. Idiot is a word derived from idiōtēs, which is a person who ‘lacks professional skill.’ The word idiot is offensive to millions of people, yet it’s a word of total normalcy. There isn’t a stigma around the word idiot, yet it’s offensive to millions of people.

It has never been done before because to ban every word that offensive to just one person is completely asinine.

Intent

One thing that the FA has failed to consider is intent. They have shoe-horned saying; “Jermain Defoe is a yid” (for example) and “f****** yids, I hope they die” (again, for example) under the same osposis. But they’re not the same. Saying the word black or chinese or caucasian or jewish isn’t inherently racist or derogatory. Saying “people are white,” isn’t racist in the slightest.

Tottenham chose the word for a reason. One of them was because they were being subjected to anti-semitism and derogatory use of the word. It was a defense mechanism. There was another reason. The nicknames of football clubs are almost synonymously based on something from the background of the club. West Ham are called the Hammers because there was a large Blacksmith guild located there. Stoke are called the Potters, because there are strong links to pottery in Stoke-on-Trent. Real Madrid are Los Blancos because they’ve had white shirts forever. the same motif goes for Arsenal, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa and many more teams. Tottenham are called the Yids because they have a strong Jewish following. We’re no different than any other teams.

Every club needs a nickname, and this is based on part of the clubs background. Potters for Stoke, Blacksmiths for West Ham, white jerseys for Real Madrid and Judaism for Tottenham. We’re no different than anyone else.

Yet the FA have decided that we chose the nickname Yids to spite Jewish people.

We didn’t.

One could argue it was chosen for us. 

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Filed under Uncategorized

The World’s Best Typo

The World's Best Typo

Beautifuk, Lewis, beautifuk

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September 8, 2013 · 4:15 pm

Daniel Levy: The toughest negotiator in football

This is a really good article about the enigma that is Daniel Levy.  Recommend  a read

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September 8, 2013 · 11:47 am