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Football Thread 2021/2022


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Yeah, I've posted here before but I've got a friend who was a professional too. He spent most of his career in League One, had a couple of seasons in The Championship and made his professional debut at away Anfield in the Premier League and he was so much better at football than anybody I've ever known personally it was ridiculous.  We had a pretty successful school team who got deep into national level competitions and the main tactic was to pass the ball to him, wait twenty seconds and the go celebrate when he'd scored a goal.  Even then he'd talk about how good the lads he was training with were, and how even a 5% drop in performance can be seen as huge when everybody around you is so good.   There must have been something in his philosophy though because he's now manager of Liverpool U18s.  

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This is why I have some sympathy for "we played 2 days ago" as an excuse.

 

Because yes they should be able to play every 2 days, and they can.  But if they're at 99.5% and their opponents are at 100%, they can lose.

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Yep.   People are weird about stuff like that.   The one that makes me laugh is when a corner not being the first man is seen as being shit because the guy complaining about it can float one into the six yard box for his Sunday League team 9 times out of 10, completely failing to realise that when you try that at higher levels the keeper just catches it.   The margins are tiny and we don't appreciate it enough most of the time. 
 

 

edit: I fully reserve the right to be a hypocrite about this at a later date btw. Especially if I’m whinging about Villa.  

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1 hour ago, Naysonymous said:

Yeah, I've posted here before but I've got a friend who was a professional too. He spent most of his career in League One, had a couple of seasons in The Championship and made his professional debut at away Anfield in the Premier League and he was so much better at football than anybody I've ever known personally it was ridiculous.  We had a pretty successful school team who got deep into national level competitions and the main tactic was to pass the ball to him, wait twenty seconds and the go celebrate when he'd scored a goal.  Even then he'd talk about how good the lads he was training with were, and how even a 5% drop in performance can be seen as huge when everybody around you is so good.   There must have been something in his philosophy though because he's now manager of Liverpool U18s.  

 

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson?

 

He is doing a good job with the academy.

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My friend's son made his first start for the first team yesterday at Plymouth Argyle. He's far off a proper debut as it was a friendly against a local team but he's an incredibly talented player. Even as a 13 year old, he was better than I ever was and I played semi-pro for four years. The pace and the speed of thought are what makes the difference.

I played with a lad who'd played professionally for Oxford when I played Sunday League and if he wasn't completely hung over, he would win a game by himself (if he wanted to). He could control any ball played at him. It was like he had sand bags for feet.

The best player I ever had to mark was Matt Etherington in a charity game against Falmouth. I didn't get near him. Thankfully, he only played 30 minutes and made me look like a two year old on roller skates. I think he was at West Ham at the time. 

Weirdly, one of Plymouth Argyle's highest appearance makers, Paul Wotton, played in the same age group as me in youth football and I always got picked ahead of him for our City schoolboys team. He ended up playing in The Championship. 

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@bradigor Yeah.  I’ve not seen much of him since he moved out of the area, but he’s a good dude.  I’m really pleased he found a career after hanging his boots up but I’m not at all surprised he turned out to be cut out for coaching.  He keeps posting pictures of his kids in Liverpool shirts but I’ll bet he’s still insisting they support Cov City.  

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5 hours ago, Gotters said:

Very good article from Michael Cox about how good footballers have to be to make it - we should all think of this next time we are coming in to declare 'so and so is crap'

 

  Reveal hidden contents

In recent times, there’s been a notable shift in the perception of footballers.

A decade ago they were presented as spoilt, overpaid and ignorant, obsessed with cars and WAGs, and completely distanced from the common man.

But Raheem Sterling, once portrayed in that manner, is now considered an intelligent and thoughtful young man and was awarded an MBE for services to racial equality. His England team-mate Marcus Rashford led a selfless and highly effective campaign to help feed children in poverty, for which he was also awarded an MBE — as was Jordan Henderson, for his charitable work during the pandemic.

Footballers are happy to become involved in political issues, often appearing to attract more support than politicians themselves. Something equivalent to Tyrone Mings’ criticism of the home secretary after England’s elimination from Euro 2020 would not, you suspect, have happened in the “golden generation” era.

There are, certainly, those who don’t appreciate this sort of thing and would prefer footballers to stick to playing football. But even they probably wouldn’t dare of going for the old stereotype about footballers being dim-witted. It no longer works. The public no longer think of footballers as being detached from society. They think of them as, broadly speaking, decent people.

The next shift in perception should concentrate not upon what footballers are like as people, but what they’re like as footballers. Granted, some are hero-worshipped and earn a tremendous living, but Premier League footballers are essentially still underrated, both by the general public and devoted football fans.

There’s a tendency to put all high-achieving sportspeople into one group, regardless of their sport. A top-flight footballer is considered roughly as talented as a top-flight rugby player or cricketer.

But think about the maths. Rugby and cricket are popular sports in England, but there are certain barriers to entry, and they are — to varying extents — played in quite particular environments. Rugby, especially, is largely the domain of private schools, which accounts for around seven per cent of pupils in the country.

Using anecdotal evidence, looking back at my primary school class, only one lad played rugby. One was a very handy cricketer. But over half the boys would have said their dream job was to be a footballer. Immediately, the competition to be the best footballer in our class was about 10 times harder than being the best rugby or cricket player.

On top of that, only around 10 countries actually take rugby and cricket seriously enough to regularly produce players capable of playing in the English top flight, whereas football is not merely the default sport in Britain, it’s also the most popular sport across the world. Even prominent sporting nations that didn’t traditionally excel at football — Australia, USA, Japan, China — have dramatically developed their domestic leagues over the past couple of decades. To be playing for the best cricket or rugby side in Britain, you’re competing against a small fraction of the population in Britain, and then the best from a small number of countries around the world.

In football, to play up front for Liverpool you need to be better than the best player from football-mad Senegal, the best from football-mad Egypt, and extremely good ones from other football-mad countries like Portugal, Brazil and Belgium, never mind everyone who grew up on football-mad Merseyside.

In fact, there doesn’t appear to be a single Merseyside-born forward currently playing in the Premier League. The last one was possibly Wayne Rooney, born in 1985. Highly-rated Leeds youngster Joe Gelhardt, born in 2002, might be the next one.

In other words, the best forward, of all those born between 1986 and 2001 in Liverpool, the footballing city in England, was not good enough to be a Premier League regular.

Every club cricketer claims to have played against a future Australian international who was knocking around in the home counties one English summer, and every amateur rugby player has seemingly trained with a second division side, which sounds impressive in football terms, but the difference between the top and amateur level is not actually that large in those sports, because those at the top have not, relatively speaking, seen off the same amount of competition as footballers.

In football, the gap is massive. I was a decent enough footballer. There was never any hope of me making it as a professional, but I very much can playfootball, in the same way that someone who can strum a few songs can reasonably say they can play the guitar. A couple of years ago, I played in a match that was filmed, and I could put together a short compilation of passes and an outside-the-box goal that would make me look quite good (if I omitted the goal I conceded when caught in possession on the edge of my own box, which resulted in a sweary argument with a television presenter).

I played 11-a-side from the age of eight until university, often with players who were considerably better than me. And yet, to my knowledge, absolutely none ever became a professional. Some were released from clubs and ended up in other occupations, and one played in the semi-professional Isthmian League. That’s it, from literally hundreds of keen footballers. Either playing alongside me was utterly ruinous to their hopes, or the competition is absolutely ferocious.

I once played a match alongside a bloke who — I was told beforehand — used to play for Oxford United. He absolutely ran the game throughout, cutting through the opposition at will, exchanging passes with his younger brother like Cassano and Totti for Roma. He was astonishingly good.

On that basis, I assumed this was a former League One-level attacking midfielder. Nope — when I Googled him, it turns out he’d spent just 18 months in the first team, when Oxford were only in the fifth tier, and he was a right-back. He spent the remainder of his career in lower divisions. He was head and shoulders above everyone else that day, and yet by the standards of professional football, had been on the fringes, in the least glamorous position of all.

A couple of years later, I was playing in a match at Old Trafford arranged by one of Manchester United’s sponsors, where a group of English journalists thrashed a Russian equivalent team. The “managers” for the day, Denis Irwin and Quinton Fortune, generously came off the benches at half-time to help the beleaguered Russian side.

Irwin had been retired for 15 years, Fortune for a decade. Yet together they absolutely bossed the game, ignoring their flagging team-mates and evading challenges from sprightlier opponents by knocking a series of diagonal balls to one another, like one of those “three professionals against 100 schoolkids” games you’ve probably seen on YouTube. They were both still brilliant and turned a 4-0 half-time scoreline into a more respectable 5-3. At one point, I closed down Irwin as he received the ball on the edge of his own box, and after a couple of seconds panicking and trying to remember whether Irwin was left- or right-footed, he’d turned past me and was gone. Class is permanent.

And yet class isn’t actually enough. Gone are the days when mercurial wingers could rely on natural pace and trickery while leaving defending to others. Today, everyone has to press and track back, play their part without the ball. Furthermore, academy coaches devise remarkably complex training drills to improve players’ spatial awareness and increasingly fill their heads with tactical information. If you don’t take that detail on board, others will, and they’ll become better than you. It’s a huge learning process to transform from a talented teenager to someone capable of playing professionally. Besides, in the age of intense scouting and statistical analysis, any possible weakness is identified and exploited ruthlessly.

Perhaps the most brutal thing in the modern game is the consistency required. In some other high-profile occupations, a brief period of brilliance is enough to sustain stardom forever. Some actors, for example, get lucky from a casting in a successful film and live off that for decades. In music, The Killers made a massive album in 2004, an all right album in 2006 and relatively little of note thereafter, yet were headlining the most recent Glastonbury, in 2019.

To provide an admittedly odd comparison, Danny Rose was voted the best left-back in the Premier League in both 2016 and 2017. Yet in 2020, at the age of 30, he was omitted from the Tottenham squad because, basically, he wasn’t considered good enough. He didn’t play all season.

And therefore, the most underappreciated players are those at the top — or at least, those on the fringes of the top, who have tasted tremendous success and are struggling to maintain that level. I recently heard someone suggesting Danny Drinkwater had “wasted his career”, and while recent years have been difficult, he will retire with a Premier League winners’ medal and three England caps, which isn’t too shabby.

It’s worth considering the perception of Jesse Lingard early last season, before his highly successful loan to West Ham. He was treated as an embarrassment, a failure, a waste of talent. Even ignoring his incredible rejuvenation earlier this year, Lingard had already scored in a victorious FA Cup final and a victorious League Cup final, and at a World Cup. He hadn’t done badly.

Joe Hart is treated as a joke figure these days, but has played 75 times for England, won the Premier League twice and kept the most Premier League clean sheets for four years in a row. The ability and dedication required to reach this level are absolutely insane, and even if these players end up featuring next season at the bottom-placed Premier League team, they’re still in the top 0.1 per cent of every Englishman of their generation who grew up wanting to play football.

Perhaps this is the result of me being a season ticket holder at a seventh-tier club and realising how far down the pyramid you can find genuine quality, but I am genuinely irritated every time it’s implied a Premier League footballer is anything short of an elite athlete. I realise that, if a corner doesn’t clear the first man, the fan shouting that the culprit is “useless” is not attempting to provide a comprehensive analysis of his ability, but I can’t help thinking that we’d all appreciate top-flight football more if we more regularly thought about how good these players are.

 

 

I played once, as a teen, against a then elite footballer, and even as a decent developing player it was chastening. Different class completely.

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I've posted before about sitting down the front behind the goal for an FA Cup game between Burnley and Peterborough and just marvelling at the skill and close control exhibited by all the players.

 

I still think not beating the first man at a corner should be a punishable offence.  OK, maybe not the first time but if you fail three times in a row, you're done for the match.  Actually, there is a nice story about Steve Cotterill and Mo Camara.  Camara could beat any full back with pace and then would inevitably put his cross into Row Z.  So Cotterill had Camara spend several sessions simply running down the pitch with the ball and attempting to cross it onto the penalty spot.  They reckoned he did it about a thousand times and by the end... was pinging crosses onto the forwards heads totally consistently.

 

Cotterill isn't a great manager, but that story and several others on how he dealt with players at various clubs tells me he's a fantastic coach. 

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3 hours ago, bradigor said:

 

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson?

 

He is doing a good job with the academy.

The passing of time. I used to sign him from Port Vale to play AM when he was about 20 in Championship Manager. Jeez, I feel old. 

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Gary Charles pitched up in a cup game my mate was playing in once. Obviously long since retired but played like prime Cafu. He looked like he was playing at double speed, scored about seven including a half volley from 40 yards and his team ran out about 27-0. Was difficult to watch if I’m being honest.

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I was good mates at school with Scott Davies - Tranmere goalkeeper and captain. He wasn’t even the best GK in our year at school - the guy who was was on Burnley’s books but was released at 17. There’s definitely an element of ‘right place at the right time’ to make it.

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7 hours ago, Naysonymous said:

Yep.   People are weird about stuff like that.   The one that makes me laugh is when a corner not being the first man is seen as being shit because the guy complaining about it can float one into the six yard box for his Sunday League team 9 times out of 10, completely failing to realise that when you try that at higher levels the keeper just catches it.   The margins are tiny and we don't appreciate it enough most of the time. 
 

 

edit: I fully reserve the right to be a hypocrite about this at a later date btw. Especially if I’m whinging about Villa.  

 

Yeah, the best corner clears the first man by 0.01mm, so it's not surprising a few hit them while still being better corners than ones that are a lot higher.

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11 hours ago, Adrock said:

How can you compare two players at completely different periods within their careers and pick an arbitrary period of time? You've assessed Lewandowski from the first moment of moving to a new country as a 21 year old but allowed Kane 26 appearances to warm up.

 

It wasn't meant to be arbitrary, i was just using Wikipedia's matches played over seasons figures and starting from Kane's proper Spurs seasons gave the same number of games to compare. I don't know a site where you can just put in a certain amount of games and it will give goals scored by that point..

 

Lewandowski was in a new country and club but it's not that unfair given I'm comparing him from 22 years old to from 20 years old for Kane.

 

11 hours ago, Adrock said:

Kane is currently on 298 career league appearances for 180 league appearances according to Wikipedia. 0.6 goals per game.

 

Lewandowski is on 497 career league appearances and 353 goals. 0.71 goals per game.

 

Would that be a fair way to compare?

 

No because Bayern completely dominate the bundesliga. Pundits sometimes say; well Lewandowski was scoring lots in their poor periods, but they've still been dominant and won the league every season for 9 years, including before he arrived. 

 

11 hours ago, Adrock said:

It's all a matter of opinion obviously but just plucking arbitrary periods from two players careers and then somehow trying to justify it by comparing the stature of the teams they played for is definitely not a fair way to compare two players.

 

There is no doubting Kane's standing amongst the world's top strikers but he isn't the best.

 

I just don't think Lewandowski gets the same numbers as Kane has at Spurs, whereas i think Kane is getting similar at Bayern. Kane scores so many 25 yard strikes with either foot out of nothing. 

 

Kane's intentional goal per game record is better too. Okay another comparison..Kane's 462 games in his career, all comps including 4 loan spells and international games. 275 goals.

 

Lewandowski's first 450 games, club and country...239 goals. Including his first season at Bayern. 

 

You say it's all matter of opinion and i won't try to convince anyone who thinks Lewandowski is better, but because of his last 2 seasons there are plenty of football fans who absolutely state it. 

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John Terry has left Villa, bet he left the training ground in his full kit ;)

 

 

Quote from the statement:

“My immediate plan is to spend some quality time with my family and, thereafter, hopefully take up some invitations to visit clubs and managers around Europe to develop my aim and objective of becoming a manager. “It has always been my ambition to move into football management and, providing the right opportunity presents itself, I feel ready to take up such a challenge."

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49 minutes ago, Herbalizer said:

Looks like we are going for Jody Morris, ticks all the boxes. 

Morris once snubbed becoming a Bluebird at the last minute and Jon Terry is Jon Terry so either will add a bit of spice to the derbies this season.

 

I'd prefer Terry - fans back in Cardiff and Terry on the touchline would be near Lee Trundle running around level of fury from the Cardiff fans

 

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A kid who used to be in my form a fair few years back has just become The Athletic’s Brentford correspondent. He’s a really lovely lad so any of you subscribers who have a spare minute or two, give him a read. Absolutely made up for him, from Year 7 you could tell he was the kind of lad you’d be proud to call your own. He’s actually a gooner but has worked for Sky Sports News for 4 years which is round the corner from Brentford. 
 

A592CF36-8495-4E1C-A430-49FEB7F56BCA.jpeg

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Surprised not to see a mention of the Rangers vs Real Madrid friendly, what a game. (for Rangers anyway) 

 

I know it will be a minority on here with it being Scottish football but since it was Madrid I expected some to have watched.

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9 minutes ago, BarryL85 said:

Surprised not to see a mention of the Rangers vs Real Madrid friendly, what a game. (for Rangers anyway) 

 

I know it will be a minority on here with it being Scottish football but since it was Madrid I expected some to have watched.

I saw that one player with the best name ever scored his first goal.

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3 minutes ago, dr_manhattan^ said:

I saw that one player with the best name ever scored his first goal.

 

Fashion Sakala 😂 It is a good name. Really looks promising, was his first start for the club and to score against Real Madrid (albeit a friendly) will have done his confidence wonders.

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10 hours ago, Yobo Ahoy said:

I can't remember the last time I watched / cared about a pre-season friendly. 

 

Yeah if I didn't watch Chelsea's game last night despite them pushing it free and hard all week I'm certainly not watching the game of the club whose fans are what people think Chelsea's fans are.

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