Expected goals-The Games Gone

Expected goals-The Games Gone

Some time ago I sat with a few other members of the media at a lunch with Tom Fox who was then the Villa CEO. I put it to him that lack of goals looked like being a problem. His reply left me and others gobsmacked to say the least. He said “you don’t understand the modern game because it’s not just about goals but expected goals”. I asked him to explain and he pointed out that as an example if a brilliant cross was delivered into the penalty area and the team didn’t score it was an “expected goal”. I remember saying “you mean missed chances because it’s not about the chances you make but the chances you take”.

Now a year or so later the computer college stats mad coaches have their way and the BBC Match of the Day now shows the expected goals stats? Of course you want to create chances but the only statistic that matters is goals and result. In my 40 years reporting and commentating on football managers have always talked about missed chances but now coaches create a new “phrase” to describe something that they have reinvented.

It’s the simplest game in the world; for Heaven’s sake stop over complicating it.

Its a game run by players and agents

Its a game run by players and agents

The season is just two games old in the Championship and one game into the Premier League and already there are concerns among fans.

Blues are struggling to bring in the five new players Harry Redknapp wants to ensure his team are in the promotion mix come May although earlier this week Luton striker Isaac Vassell signed for an undisclosed fee.

With injuries and suspensions already biting into the squad the need for new blood is critical says the experienced Blues boss. Therein is a valid reason for the transfer window to shut before the season starts.

Now I get that sometimes clubs differ in their valuations of players and very often it becomes a sort of Mexican stand off until the last day or so of the transfer window but of course then you run the risk of losing out on the players you want! I understand that so called super-agent Darren Dein along with Jeff Vertere are responsible for getting new players into St Andrews! I can see the perceived advantage of having an agent involved as he must know what players are available however I am not totally sure if there would not be a conflict of interest. Harry keeps on saying that behind the scenes they are working very hard to make signings. I can only assume that the problem they are not happening is either a) transfer fees are too high? b) wage demands are too high c) agents want to much money for facilitating the transfer.

It’s the same scenario with the Baggies with only two new signings made and as I write the possibility of Gareth Barry joining from Everton. They have been talking about new players for some time, however Tony Pulis is convinced that he will get them before the window closes. In true Pulis straight talking style he made it clear that fans have to understand how the club works. However if the rest of the signings are of the same quality as those already made then they may well be worth waiting for.

Over at Villa Park it’s a different situation as the club have spent a lot of money on the squad sanctioned by the owner Dr Xia and he will be understandably want a return on that investment. However Steve Bruce did not spend all that money and has had to try and ship out the highly paid players that were obviously not good enough to get the club promoted.

Already fans are up in arms with just one point from six but the owners and fans have to dig deep into their well of patience and give the manager time to sort it out. He is experienced in getting teams promoted from what is the toughest league in the world.

Steve Bruce is fully aware of the high expectation levels of a club like Villa from terraces to boardroom –its promotion or bust.

Understandably we fans are eager for new signings however it’s not only the clubs who prevaricate but also players and their agents who are more than happy to wait and see if a better offer comes in before the window shuts and then, if one doesn’t, accept the original offer. Clubs also initially ask for unrealistic transfer fees and then wait until the last day of the window before coming to a compromise.

It matters not a jot about contracts if a player wants to move he will. Most top players would prefer to sign a one year deal as it leaves them and their agents in control. These days’ longer contracts are mostly for the benefit of the club who can command a huge transfer fee if a player decides he wants to move

There have been examples in the past where players manipulate themselves out of a club. If a club says a player isn’t for sale and turns down a big offer you can bet your boots that the player already knows what he will be earning at his new club and has agreed to join in principle. Eventually the player hands in a written transfer request. If the clubs still say no the player usually starts “playing up” by doing interviews in the press criticising his club or being a bad apple in the dressing room. Eventually the club will want him out and will let him have his way and move. But how much of this is agent driven? In my opinion most of it.

I am sure it was big Ron who once said “Give the game to the players because they have everything else”. He should have said give it to the agents.

 

The Neymar transfer and the ripple effect

The Neymar transfer and the ripple effect

A lot has been said about Neymar’s £198 million pound move from Barcelona to Paris St-Germain but I thought I would throw in my two-penneth as well. I cannot think of any printable words to express my disgust other than obscene and disgraceful. It will be a massive game changer not on the field but off it as every parasitical agent will be considering asking for more money for their players and jacking up transfer fees for any Premier League and Championship player. I thought Manchester United’s 89 million pounds for Pogba was crazy but this Neymar deal has taken crazy to a new level.

As I understand it the Financial Fair Play rules don’t apply to teams in the Champions League in terms of wages as they do to every other team. So how is that fair play? And anyway I am sure the Qatari owners will find new sponsorship deals to offset the cost of Neymar and balance things in terms of the Financial Fair Play rules.

I read that Neymar said the move was nothing to do with money! Are you sure? He might as well have started his interview with “Once upon a time”. Of course it’s about the money and I for one don’t blame him. No one would turn down half a million pounds a week net of tax! However I would have more respect if he said of course it’s about money I couldn’t turn it down. Moving from Barcelona to PSG cannot be for reasons to do with ambition and wanting to win trophies.

Having said that I am sure the club are already renegotiating their commercial deals and consequently will increase their commercial revenue by a significant percentage with Neymar at the club. In fact I understand that they sold half a million shirts worldwide last season and with Neymar in the squad that could increase to 2 million this season. So I get that the deal might make financial sense to PSG but in my opinion it’s to the detriment of the game overall.

To me it looks nothing more than mega rich owners having a private ego battle along the lines of “my wallets bigger than your wallet”.

I also wonder what part Neymar’s dad played in driving the transfer. As his sons agent I am sure he was very well rewarded and unlike us he will not be worrying about the rising cost of living.

However one thing is without question-Neymar is a brilliant footballer and a world class goal scorer while his Christian charity work in his native Brazil is well publicised. My anger at the transfer is nothing to do with him as a person but more about the ripple effect it will most certainly have on the game over the coming seasons.

Neymar transfer-theripple affect

Neymar transfer-theripple affect

A lot has been said about Neymar’s £198 million pound move from Barcelona to Paris St-Germain but I thought I would throw in my two-penneth as well. I cannot think of any printable words to express my disgust other than obscene and disgraceful. It will be a massive game changer not on the field but off it as every parasitical agent will be considering asking for more money for their players and jacking up transfer fees for any Premier League and Championship player. I thought Manchester United’s 89 million pounds for Pogba was crazy but this Neymar deal has taken crazy to a new level.

As I understand it the Financial Fair Play rules don’t apply to teams in the Champions League in terms of wages as they do to every other team. So how is that fair play? And anyway I am sure the Qatari owners will find new sponsorship deals to offset the cost of Neymar and balance things in terms of the Financial Fair Play rules.

I read that Neymar said the move was nothing to do with money! Are you sure? He might as well have started his interview with “Once upon a time”. Of course it’s about the money and I for one don’t blame him. No one would turn down half a million pounds a week net of tax! However I would have more respect if he said of course it’s about money I couldn’t turn it down. Moving from Barcelona to PSG cannot be for reasons to do with ambition and wanting to win trophies.

Having said that I am sure the club are already renegotiating their commercial deals and consequently will increase their commercial revenue by a significant percentage with Neymar at the club. In fact I understand that they sold half a million shirts worldwide last season and with Neymar in the squad that could increase to 2 million this season. So I get that the deal might make financial sense to PSG but in my opinion it’s to the detriment of the game overall.

To me it looks nothing more than mega rich owners having a private ego battle along the lines of “my wallets bigger than your wallet”.

I also wonder what part Neymar’s dad played in driving the transfer. As his sons agent I am sure he was very well rewarded and unlike us he will not be worrying about the rising cost of living.

However one thing is without question-Neymar is a brilliant footballer and a world class goal scorer while his Christian charity work in his native Brazil is well publicised. My anger at the transfer is nothing to do with him as a person but more about the ripple effect it will most certainly have on the game over the coming seasons.

Passive Defending

Passive Defending

I grew up watching football on a diet of tough defenders, top goal-scorers and midfielders who always looked forward and tried to get their strikers in behind the opponents defence. We are in an era of passing for passing’s sake by everybody in the team including, in many teams, the goalkeeper as well.

We have all grown used to watching the defenders pass the ball backwards and forwards to each other before one of them gives it to the keeper who usually hits it over the half way line. Something that could have been done 4 or 5 minutes before!

Now though we are also seeing a new breed of defender in the game-the passive defender or as I prefer to call them conscientious objectors who rarely lay a glove on their opponents. Sure they can all play and pass and some can even do drag backs and step overs but tough tackling seems to be missing from their repertoire.

Watch how defenders, not all by a long way, but many none the less jump and tuck their head into their shoulders when they compete aerially for a ball in the air!

I was at MK Dons v Wigan for talkSPORT on Saturday and we had two red cards and 6 yellow cards and yet there wasn’t a dirty tackle in what was quite niggly but never a dirty game.

Of course the way referees are under orders to implement and interpret the laws of the game may mean that the reality is that tough tackling has been driven out of the game withdefenders knowing that most tough challenges will see the referee pulling out a card. It matters not that a defender has won the ball if in the referee’s opinion the tackle was overly aggressive.

I hope I am not alone in enjoying the physical side of the game? I find a tough no nonsense tackle far more entertaining and exciting than two centre halves passing the ball to each other.