February 3, 2013

He’s Magic.. You know.

I’ve not done a tumblr in ages, but after one of the most enjoyable games, most memorable debuts, and most lovely goals I can remember in a while, I fired up SketchUp again to commemorate Moussa Sissoko’s second, and winning, goal yesterday. 

image

Red = Shot.

Blue = Pass 

Grey = Player Movement (note Santon)

Yellow = Moussa Sissoko.

[clearance]-Taylor-Perch-Santon-Cabaye-Sissoko-Santon-Sissoko-[goal]

The goal pretty much speaks for itself; a one/two touch, pass/move, sweeping goal, that has a nice resonance with the goal in my 9/11 post from April last year, posted here: http://tt9m.tumblr.com/post/20377364403/9-11).

Incidentally the game that goal occurred in was the last time an in-form striker that we sold in a January window returned to play in front of us at St James’ for the first time. Like Ba, he had a nightmare too. Was booed off. And then upstaged by one of our own January acquisitions. 

Serendipity..

October 9, 2012

We want Mike Ashley in!
Mike Ashley out!

In, Out, In, Out,
and we’ve still won nowt.

He sacked Chrissy Hughton,
then renamed the ground;
What is he all about?! HEY!

Miiiiiike Ashley, Ashley, Ashleeeey
Miiiiiike Ashley, Ashley, Ashleeeey
Miiiiiike Ashley, Ashley, Ashleeeeeeey

Knees bend, arms stretch
SPORTS! DIRECT!

September 5, 2012

Tt9mERRY RICHARDSON.. Un amour suprême..
Tt9mERRY RICHARDSON.. Un amour suprême..
July 10, 2012

Drawing Alan Smith.

As they say in Leeds, “alright, duck…?”

Thanks to @seriousyoungman for the prompt..

July 3, 2012

Drawing Shola Ameobi.

Back in February I did a post graphically illustrating Alan Shearer’s 206 goals for Newcastle aided by a YouTube video someone had produced, consolidating all the goals into a single stream of footballing genius. A week or so ago, twitter user @sewellyy uploaded a similar video for Shola Ameobi. Here is the video. Watch it a few times - there’s so many amazing moments, and illustrates the real evolution in the game of one of my favourite players.

These posts I do would be nigh on impossible without archive footage, and hugely time consuming were it not for benevolent fans like him, producing compilation goals for no other reason than their love of the game and the club. I take my hat off to their commitment.

Shola has always had his detractors; those that question his workrate, his pace, his touch, his vision etc etc - pretty much every element of his game. It’s always baffled me that the Typical Shola Hater can value him so little given all he has been through at the club, and the sheer amount of important goals he’s scored. Here are all 72.

There’s few discernible ‘patterns’ to the goals Shola has scored, despite his reputation with certain elements of our support, he is a well-rounded goalscorer. Though there’s not quite the variety of Shearer, or the indeed Cissé, there are goals from positions all over the 18 yard box, a number of long-range efforts, and numerous headers. Something not immediately obvious in the image above is Shola’s propensity to place finishes to the bottom left corner of goal, interestingly where his penalties are placed too (see below).

PELANTY!

It’s no secret that Shola is one of the best penalty takers in the game. No matter how many in-game chances are wasted due to a lack of concentration or technique, we know that when he places the ball on the penalty spot, that he will score. Shola does NOT MISS penalties. He just can’t. 9/9 is his professional record, and what’s more interesting is that 7 of those 9 have been placed into the exact same spot. One would think goalkeepers would have sussed ‘The Ameobi Penalty’ by now, especially the mackem ones given the practice they’ve had, but he still maintains an 100% record.

The lad who used to sit in front of me in L7 used to turn around and look back at me whenever we had a penalty - he quite literally couldn’t face them. His knowledge of whether a goal was scored arriving a split second after mine - the goal confirmed by my own celebration as those watching jumped and dived forward towards him. I never had this problem. I’ve never ‘worried’ about a penalty. We’ve had Shearer and Shola. Why would I?

I love him dearly, but the thought of Demba placing the ball on the spot against the mackems still brings pangs of anxiety and hand-wringing to me, months after the event. That was Shola’s ball. Shola’s penalty. Shola’s goal.

THE MACKEM SLAYER.

Their place, or ours, if Shola is on the pitch, and playing against his sworn enemies, you can guarantee there is noone in the world wanting him to score more than himself.  Consistency against a single club is an interesting thing to explore, look at the history of Gerrard/Rooney against us, but for such consistency to be found against your local rivals, especially when you are a local lad is just so wonderfully poetic.

Hopefully Shola will force me to revisit this post in a year to update and add to the diagram. Will we see the Shola-Century? It’s hard to believe we will, especially given his new Pardew-enforced role as an amazingly effective impact-substitute, but the fact that he is anywhere near after injuries, form-dips, and competition for places with the likes of Cissé, Ba, Shearer, Kluivert, Owen, Carroll et al, is a testament to a true club hero. The local lad that has lived all of our fantasies; Barcelona to Brentford. SHOOOLLLLAAAAAAAAAAA!!

May 14, 2012

200 tweets. 240 seconds.

Below is a simple diagrammatic representation of the content of 200 tweets sent to Joey Barton during the course of the last half hour. I did no filtering at all apart from excluding retweets, which at a guess account for 20% of traffic being sent to Joey at the minute. What is displayed is the words in direct tweets to ‘@Joey7Barton’ from any single twitter account. Size of word indicates frequency of use..

It’s almost impossible to keep up. Tweets were already disappearing off the screen on my adjacent tweetdeck before i could copy them. He is being tweeted more than once every second. And it is easily 90%+ abusive.

Even from a sample of just 250 people you can see there is no pattern to who is tweeting abuse at Joey. Just watching a tweetdeck column for a minute you see the male/female, old/young, long/short, succinct/waffling, punctuated/mispelt.. there’s nothing to characterise his abusers. I must have seen a club crest from at least half of the club’s in the Premier League attached to users’ icons as I copied and pasted.

There is one thing all those tweeting Joey do share , and that’s their cloak of anonymity, a facelessness, a cowardly veil over their identity allowing them to vent the most despicable of their prejudices at a young man, who’s simple crime is a red card in a football match. It’s pathetic, depressing, and unrelenting..

Imagine being called a disgrace every 40 seconds.. (90 times an hour)

Imagine being called a cunt every 48 seconds.. (75 times an hour)

Imagine being reminded of your ‘murdering' brother every 80 seconds.. (45 times an hour)

And this isn’t the same person doing it over and over. This isn’t the school bully, or the bastard boss. Every single one is a new, unique person. Hundreds, thousands of them, all directing disgusting abuse straight into your hand or into your lap as you sit at home with your family. And still it continues in the corner of my screen…

@Official_Stu: @Joey7Barton U see how u say tevez started the fight…did the guy ur brother attacked with an axe also start it? #familyofcunts……

@TomButt23: @Joey7Barton Fucking wanker…….

@MrCoreyHughes: @Joey7Barton How are you even captain? All of my respect for you has been drained, you shouldn’t be playing football in England again.

etc…

@ejtaylor8: @Joey7Barton you cunt! Fuck off cunt you’re an absolute cunt irresponsible ugly shit haired dick head cunt fuck off you cunt!

etc…

A red card in a fucking football match…

________________________________________________________________________________

* Wordle is available here: http://www.wordle.net/create - Wordle changes size of words dependent on the frequency of their use in any sample of text that is input.

May 5, 2012

1-0 head start.

I) Unprecedented.

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..

II) Precedented.

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.

1.08333333333333.

prolific [prəˈlɪfɪk]

adj
1. producing fruit, offspring, etc., in abundance
2. producing constant or successful results
3. (often foll by in or of)rich or fruitful
[from Medieval Latin prōlificus, from Latin prōlēs offspring]
prolifically  adv
prolificness , prolificacy n

#1.  [1/1 = 1.00000]

#2. [2/3 = 0.66666]

#3. [3/5 = 0.60000]

#4. [4/6 = 0.66666]

#5. [5/6 = 0.83333]

#6. [6/7 = 0.87514]

#7. [7/7 = 1.00000]

#8. [8/8 = 1.00000]

#9. [9/8 = 1.12500]

#10. [10/9 = 1.11111]

#11. [11/10 = 1.10000]

#12. [12/12 = 1.00000]

#13. [13/12 = 1.08333]

April 3, 2012

9/11

Tim Krul’s distribution has been a sore point of mine all season; over-optimistic lumping of the ball to one of Cissé or Ba in a fairly rigid 442 system. The game at the weekend, especially the second half saw an adoption of what I would call a 5a side distributive method within a much more flexible 433 formation. It’s the way that I’ve always played with when playing competitively in those smaller formats.

The idea is simple: build from your own box by dropping your left/right backs deep. If an opposing forward is drawn out towards one of your full backs, keeper rolls it to the  other. If no forward comes, take your pick. It’s a simple and effective way to start attacks when space is at a premium. Obviously 11 a side doesn’t have such spatial constraint, but the end result remains the same, play the ball short and low and you are in control of what is happening.

I’ve watched Cissé’s second goal about 10 times tonight but every time I watch it I notice new things..

1st viewing I notice Liverpool don’t even touch the ball.

2nd viewing I notice none of our players touch the ball more than twice before passing apart Ben Arfa’s penetrating run (3 times) and Cissé’s control and finish (3 times).

3rd viewing I watch the movement of our players without the ball: subtle, nuanced, controlled.

4th viewing I begin to take in the full sweeping nature of the move, an unstoppable force. It’s like our players know exactly what pass they’re meant to be making when, it’s beautiful.

5th viewing brings my favourite realisation. Nine out of our eleven players touch the ball in the move, contributing to the goal.

Williamson to Krul.

Krul to Jonas.

Jonas to Cissé to Tioté.

Tioté to Guthrie.

Guthrie to Ben Arfa..

[Ben Arfa carries]..

Ben Arfa to Cabaye.

Cabaye to Ba.

Ba through Ben Arfa to Cissé..

GOAL.

This is almost total football. Could we be any further from the punt and hope of early in the season, or the punt-knockdown-goal approach under Hughton?

9/11 players involved..

Pardiola indeed..

March 3, 2012
This was last year. Now it’s this year. Kill the mackems.

This was last year. Now it’s this year. Kill the mackems.