Across town on Leazes Terrace, RD recently looked at Papiss Cissé’s place in NUFC scoring history. It’s a fascinating read, and can be found here: http://www.leazesterrace.com/papiss-demba-cisse-the-best-goalscoring-start-in-newcastles-history/. There’s plenty of numbers and characters from NUFC history that, for my shame I hadn’t even heard of, that stack up against Cissé. One can use numbers and statistics to prove pretty much anything you want in football, the Guardian Football Weekly podcast gets probably half an hour of ‘material’ just doing that every week, but the figures involved with Cissé’s accuracy, finishing, scoring rate etc. don’t need any embellishing to illustrate his quality.
Below I’ve tried to create a concise graphical representation of just where Cissé ‘fits’ both historically and currently in terms of goalscoring rate, initial impact, and in the context of revered goalscorers.
Firstly, I’ve plotted the first 14 league games of Cissé, Shearer, and for contrast, Suarez. A simple calculation of goals/games gives Y axis, games on X axis. I’ve highlighted the line above which more than a goal a game is being scored. Given that a goal every other game is thought to be fairly good, the blue filled area shows the times Cissé is actually operating at over twice that profligacy.
Cissé has only played 12 games, but even assuming he doesn’t score again this season, he will still finish on 0.92857 goals a game - well above Shearer, and putting Suarez into insignificance.. and that’s if he doesn’t score..
What about Shearer’s overall record? Duly heralded as one of the best in the PL, and also a past wearer of Cissé’s shirt? His average at NUFC was just a shade below 0.5 goals a game and graphically the gap between Cissé’s current rate and appears huge. Even the average goals/game plot of Lionel Messi at Barcelona only closes the gap between the two by just over half. Granted these two averages are taken over a much longer scope of time, and inevitably Cissé will have some dips in form and periods without goals, but on the only evidence we have to hand of his performance at NUFC, his goalscoring rate is without precedent. However..
In my post earlier today I tried to show the variety in the 13 goals Papiss Cissé has scored since his arrival. As I was doing the visuals, I didn’t hear it myself, but I did read plenty of commentary regarding (more) unfounded nonsense tumbling from the mouth of everyone’s favourite crap gambler, and squeaking rubber-lipped cockney, Paul Merson. Apparently he was criticising Cissé for only scoring spectacular goals..
Pardew however, has been saying the opposite in a lot of interviews. I’m not sure why he is so keen to labour the point that Cissé is a ‘finisher’ and that ‘if he’s given a chance he will score’. It’s the opposite of what Merson is saying. I think they’re both right..
Either position is a reductive way to describe Cissé when you see that for half his goals so far, he’s had absolutely no business scoring from where he is/how he receives the ball, and the other half are great ‘finishers’ goals. To imply he’s a goal machine/poacher in the same vein as past number 9 Andy Cole, or a Van Nistelrooy is to do Papiss a disservice. For me, he’s a much more complete, and and unpredictable striker. Much more in the vein of the chap who’s 206 goals I looked at earlier in the year.
Below I combine Shearer’s 206 goals and Cisse’s 13..
As discussed below, there was no ‘typically Shearer’ goal, and just 12 games into Cissé’s time in that same numbered shirt, there’s clearly no ‘typical’ Cissé goal either. Left foot, right foot, head.. chips, drives, lobs.. straight or curved.. near or far.. pressured or open..
The variety of these goals is what makes the frequency of these goals all the more incredible. Olympic divers or gymnasts hone the same routines, day after day in pursuit of perfection; a ‘correct’ way to execute something. Whether it’s direct quotes from Bruce Lee, or in Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell - the concept of practicing something 10,000 times/hours for it to become instinctive and innate, is often cited as the ‘route’ to being ‘accomplished’ or natural in any activity - and there is evidence to support it.
However, a ‘goal’ cannot be so practiced that it can be replicated at a required or designated time, the game does not offer the participant that degree of control - they are part of a much more fluid dynamic. Spontaneity and intelligence are required - knowing what needs to be done in any situation, in any position, instinctively and instantly. That is the marker or a truly great goalscorer.
Shearer had it, and so far it looks like Papiss Cissé has it too.
2 years ago
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