Football, FootballOpinion, Uncategorized

Three Lions

I’m aware that England probably aren’t going to win the world cup. We’re probably going to fall short in some way. But today, we can dream.

As a Hartlepool and England fan, I don’t have much experience of winning things. But sometimes the experience of pursuing glory is its own reward.

In 2005 I felt frustration when Hartlepool lost a playoff final to Sheffield Wednesday, but also intense pride that my team had pushed a bigger, richer club so close.

In 1996 I was in tears as England lost to Germany. But looking back as an adult, I feel pride at the times when England were bold, and pushed the strongest, most well-drilled teams in world football so far.

Continue reading “Three Lions”

FootballOpinion

Legacy Issues – How Hartlepool United Made it to the Brink

News emerging over recent weeks have revealed that Hartlepool United have some major financial issues to overcome in the next few weeks. Ian King of TwoHundredPercent.net has a good summary of Hartlepool United’s situation. As a fan I’ve a few more things to add.

First of all, a bit of recent history. Going back years Pools were owned by IOR, an Aberdeen-based oil company who subsidised the club’s finances. The spending was never anywhere near as much as al Fayed at Fulham or Whelan at Wigan, who were in the lower leagues around the same time, but enough to help compete with Cardiff, Sheffield Wednesday, Bristol City etc.

IOR’s motives seemed to use Pools as corporate entertainment (showcasing their business skill in the process) and as a tax write-off (Pools made losses of around £1m a season under their leadership despite going up and down divisions, which seems too steady to be coincedental.) The impression grew over time that IOR had gotten bored of Pools, and were happy for us to tread water. There was disaffection with them long before they sold the club.

A deal was initially struck for the club to be sold to Stephen Murrall and Peter Harris (known as The Monkey Hangers 2014 – a business set up for the purpose of buying the club). Gate money was transferred into their accounts during the transitional period before the formal takeover, which led to the deal collapsing. In financial terms this is classed as ‘self-dealing’, and was one of the reasons that they were later jailed.

Continue reading “Legacy Issues – How Hartlepool United Made it to the Brink”

FootballOpinion

The Language of Statistics

In November 2012 I wrote about the use of statistics in football, and the backlash against them, for the now defunct Bornoffside.net. You can read the article in its original context via the Wayback Machine, or by scrolling down. Some of my examples feel a bit dated, but otherwise I’d stand by what I wrote.

Over recent years, the use of statistics in sport has become increasingly common. Match of the Day and Sky Sports routinely present us with the basic stats at the end of matches – shots, shots on targets, fouls, etc. These stats are useful, insightful to a point. Even if you see the stats at the bottom of a print media match report, you can get a sense of how balanced the match was, whether the winners deserved their win.

Continue reading “The Language of Statistics”

FootballOpinion

Looking Statistically at Cardiff’s Summer Signings

Another quick Squawka link. Cardiff City Football Club have been a bit of a basket case in recent weeks. The chairman, Vincent Tan, while not sacking the manager, Malky Mackay himself, seems to have been pantomining a display of what ‘constructive dismissal’ looks like, briefing against him in the press, before growing bored with his performance art and sacking the manager outright.

Cardiff fans at the 2012 League Cup final, wearing their traditional colours of not red.
Cardiff fans at the 2012 League Cup final, wearing their traditional colours of not red.

One of the mad chairman’s more legitimate complaints was that Mackay overspent on summer recruitments. So, writing for Squawka, I’ve taken a statistical look at their summer signings.

Click here to read Was Cardiff’s Summer Spending a Success?

FootballOpinion

Squawka: Four Bits of Squawking

Hello again! After more than a month without updating the blog, I’m back again, to write a quick ‘what I’ve been up to’ blog post.

Over the Christmas period I’ve written four stats-based articles for Squawka, one of them written while obeying the writer’s stereotype of being very tipsy and having a drink in my hand.

Before Liverpool played Manchester City, I compared David Silva and Philippe Coutinho, the flair players dribbling in from the left for both sides.

Click here to read David Silva v Coutinho

Also on Liverpool, I looked at the style of play and impact of Liverpool’s Joe Allen and Jordan Henderson at Liverpool, asking if, between them, they could compensate for the missing Steven Gerrard.

Click here to read Why Liverpool’s Midfield Are Proving They Can Cope Without Most Creative Red

On Boxing Day, I covered the Tottenham v West Brom match for Squawka, taking a statistical look at the events leading to a 1-1 draw in Timothy Sherwood’s first match as Tottenham’s permanent manager.

Click here to read Tottenham 1-1 West Brom

I haven't done any research, but I assume Tim was named after the forest. It can't be a coincedence.
I haven’t done any research, but I assume Tim was named after the forest. It can’t be a coincedence.

And finally, published on the 27th, I took a look at three players who the Express reckon Manchester United are trying to sign – Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus, Atletico Madrid’s Koke, and Southampton’s Adam Lallana. (This is the piece I wrote when tipsy, which might be evident by the fact that  one point I asked the reader “who do you think you’re looking at? Eh? Eh?”. Or maybe I got away with it.)

Click here to read Moyes Wishlist? Three Hugely Talented Superstars Who Could Join Man Utd.

 

And that’s my writing elsewhere brought up to date for now – I’ll be writing about other things in the days to come…

FootballOpinion

A Link to a Lower League Week, and an Irrelevant Photograph of a Guinea Pig

New today, the latest in the Lower League Week I write for BornOffside, covering the big events in League 1 and League 2. Stories include the FIFA regulation stopping Shaun Derry continuing as a player, the bad form of Peterborough, Crewe and Portsmouth, Gillingham losing in the FA Cup, and a really, really bad miss.

I warned you this was coming.
I warned you this was coming.

Click here to read Lower League Week: Notts County and Leyton Orient Battle Red Tape

FootballOpinion

England vs Germany – a Philosophical Divide

Another link, this time to something new. Published today on BornOffside, I’ve responded to Dietmar Hamann’s autobiography extract, published on Sunday in the Independent.

In it, Hamann compared Michael Ballack and Paul Gascoigne’s reactions to being booked in World Cup semi-finals, arguing that Gascoigne’s emotional reaction would see him becoming a national pariah rather than a hero… and that Gascoigne represents what’s wrong with English football.

If the German football model is so good, why do their players look so weird?
If the German football model is so good, why do their players look so weird?

However, I disagree with a lot of what Hamann said, and have written a response for BornOffside.

Click here to read Dietmar Hamann has England’s Problems All Wrong