Spurs are finally spending. In all the wrong places…

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Concern for Tottenham
As a Spurs supporter I feel genuinely worried for the new season. I have watched Barcelona throw away big leads in the CL in the last couple of seasons. My take on that was that they keep buying attacking players at ridiculous prices and not investing in their defence. When you have Messi and Suarez playing, goalscoring is not your issue – They never replaced Alves and Puyol and I think Pique is too old now.

I think we have a similar issue, goalscoring is not our issue with Kane, Son & Moura, it’s defence. We have just sold Trippier and Rose is apparently on his way too. Vertonghen is getting on and has maybe 1 more season in him and same goes for Toby. Foythe is not fit for purpose and neither is KWP and as a result I think we will get found out and finish 6th. We need to make some big investments in defence now but cant see that happening.

My prediction for top 4

City
Liverpool
United
Chelsea

Wishing my fellow football365ers a wonderful 19/20 season
Robert, Marbella, Spain

 

Here comes Ed
With Alderweireld’s release clause expiring this morning, is anyone else waiting for a £70M bid from Woodward in the next couple of days?
Cevski (Will be held up as good business when confirmed instead of Maguire) THFC

 

Bale bashing
It’s apparently vogue to rip into Bale right now, for being overrated, overpaid, injured too often, not productive, or any combination (plus other reasons I’m sure), but lets look at some of the stats to see how true any of this is? Using the numbers off understat.com, we can see not just the actual output, but the projected output.

Over the past 5 seasons, Bale scored 63 and assisted 26 in La Liga, over-performing expected goals of 54 and under-performing assists of 29.63. Benzima scored 76 and assisted 38, under-performing expected goals of 79.3 and over-performing assists of 30.14. A note on assists, under-performing vs over-performing is a commentary on the person you were assisting, not the player providing them. Benzima was lucky to get as many as he did, while Bale was unlucky.

Someone might argue Bales over-performing goals was also lucky, but the reality is it’s due to his talent. The chance is based on all players who take shots in all leagues, so worse players will miss more and better players make more. Messi, for example, score 176 in that same time, with an expected total of 145, Griezmann 95 with an expect 71.5, Kane 122 with an expect 103, Mane 66 with an expect 59, Salah 89 with an expect 74, and Hazard 63 with an expected 46. Conversely, Ronaldo scored 155 with an expect 150.5, and Neymar 93 with an expect 93. This isn’t to say they aren’t outstanding players, but that we are probably overvaluing how impressive the goals they score are, if they aren’t really outperforming the expected “random” goal scorer.

Back to Bale vs Benzima though, the only place that Benzima really seems to outperform Bale is goals per shot attempt, where Benzima scores a goal every 5.3 shots and Bale scores every 6.35 shots, but this is almost certainly explained away by the number of shots taken outside the box (52 vs 145) especially when Bale shots/goals inside the penalty area is a bit better.. Also the Bale vs Ronaldo comparison makes them look a lot more similar with CR7 scoring a goal ever 6.23 shots but shooting 63% more frequently, while also creating fewer key passes per 90 with 1.6 vs 1.75.

I’m not arguing CR7 isn’t amazing, or that Bale is somehow just as good, because the reality is his nominal output is lower, but people are too quick to make judgements on a player who is statistically an extremely good performer and who pretty much any team would be lucky to have in their lineup.
Jacques, Oxford

 

…In response to Guillame, while I agree with some of his points, on some other points he is flat out wrong.

First off, you question what did Bale do other than the two goals against Liverpool? In 2013/14, he scored goals in the group stage, round of 16 and quarter finals. He scored the winning goal in the final against Athletico to make it 2-1 in extra time. In 2015/16, he scored the only goal over two legs in the semi final against city. The goal was given as a Fernando own goal afterwards, but watch it again and that seems harsh. He then provided the assist for Ramos’ goal in the final which ended 1-1, and than proceeded to score his penalty in the shootout in which Real emerged victorious again. In 2018, as we know, he scored a once in a lifetime goal that will not be replicated for a long time at that level to put his team in the lead at a time when Liverpool were in the ascendancy, and then proceeded to score a third(gifted by Karius tbf). And did I mention his winning goal against Barcelona in the copa del rey final in 2014? Yeah, that one. You may only remember the goals against Liverpool, but history will remember Bale for more than just that. To say “what has Bale done in finals other than his goals against liverpool?” brings to mind Mourinho’s quote from last year: ” Respect, man. Respect”

Regarding the claim that no other club is serious about buying him, it is far more complex than the childish argument that “no-one wants him hence he is crap”. He is one of the highest paid players in the world, on an immense salary at Real. He would have to take a massive pay cut to join many of the top clubs, and that is what appears to be a major sticking point. You can see a similar situation panning out with Neymar. Now comes the part where I somewhat agree with Guillame’s mail. Bale’s fitness is not on an elite level, and that does indeed make him unreliable. The demands of a world class player entail that he be available for all if not the vast majority of games in a season, and Bale has not been able to maintain that. This factor, coupled with his age approaching 30 and his huge salary are the combination of factors making it difficult for other clubs to pursue him. It is a lot of money that a club has to pay for a player with only a handful of peak years left, and no guarantee of how many games he will be able to play during that time.

The truth is Bale was fighting a losing battle from the start of his Madrid career, being marketed as the “Ronaldo 2.0”. Messi and Ronaldo have both shown over a period of a decade that they are in a different category all together, that is unattainable as it stands. It remains to be seen how long it will take for a player to emerge who can produce those kind of statistics over that period of time. However, history will look upon Bale much more kindly, and rightfully so. Inspite of his injury ravaged time at Madrid, he has produced match winning performances on multiple occasions in the latter stages of the big cup competitions, and will certainly go down as one of the major contributors to the 4 champions leagues Real Madrid accrued over 5 years.
johnnyWicky, Liverpool fan, Toronto

 

…My first thought is that James Murphy & Guillaume should get together and solve this argument in the pub – they’ll never agree but at least they’ll have a hangover to show for it.

Alternatively, I think the comparison to Theo Walcott is incorrect. Gareth Bale is undoubtedly a fantastic player. Injuries, inconsistencies, fitness and which superstar you want to compare his stats to can be debated but there is no doubt that he is a fantastic player. The player with the most direct comparison to Bale is one Alexis Sanchez although I feel even that is unfair to Bale as at least Bale has scored for his club more recently and much more often. However, both players undoubtedly have proved over many seasons that they are fantastic players but because of their salaries and age no other club will take a punt on them.

I’m sure they’d both rather be playing and scoring than getting splinters in their arses or improving their golf handicaps but no-one in their right mind would leave such an overpaid job just to get first team football. And as the stats show, both of them actually play quite a lot of games each season.

Both Real Madrid and Man Utd are to blame for the situations they are in with these players, not the players themselves but we tend to vent at the players, I’m a Utd fan and I can’t stand Sanchez but actually it’s not really his fault Man Utd were stupid. Man Utd bought an older player for an inflated fee on a ridiculous salary on a long contract who was unsettling the Arsenal dressing room and would have been available for free a few months down the line – all Sanchez did was say thank you very much and promptly forgot how to play football. Bale, on the other hand, has actually been pretty good but is surplus to Zidanes requirements and also on a massive salary. What would you do? Go to China on a similarly massive salary or stay in Spain where his family has settled already?

Maybe Utd & Real Madrid should swap players?
Another problem possibly about to emerge is Harry Maguire. If he gets his move to Utd for a fee similar to VVD then the expectation on him is to be as good as him which may well be unrealistic.
Jon, Cape Town (I’d prefer Bale over Sanchez but would rather have neither)

 

What about Wilf?
Does anybody else think Chelsea would be bidding for Zaha right now if not for the transfer ban? ( – MC) He seems the perfect replacement for Hazard same kind of attacking intent off the wing not as polished but could be great if given the stage. Would love to see palace dig their heels in and hold out until next summer he would also be a great replacement for the Hudson Odoi if he doesn’t pen that new contract.
Aaron. CFC. Ireland.

 

Sell-on clauses and market value
I agree with Ed on Palace, they can demand whatever they want for them to agree to break Zaha’s contract, particularly due to the risk of lost revenues following relegation. However, inflating the price to get market value after paying Man U strikes a bit of “having your cake and eating it too”. Presumably the sell on clause was Palace’s way of paying Man U market value when they purchased him, so unless Palace paid market value AND threw the sell on clause in for sh*ts and giggles, I can’t get behind that rationale.

That’s all.
A guy from a place supporting a club

 

Blade Runner?
I can’t help but notice Ozil’s new hairstyle makes him look an awful lot like Rutger Hauer’s Replicant character in the original Blade Runner.

Is this a tribute following Hauer’s death or Ozil been a replicant all along as I’ve suspected.

Time to die…
Phil, LFC.

 

Postcard from Poland
I hope this mail gets to you before the weekend. I don’t think I’ve contributed to the mailbox for over 10 years when I used to send regular emails regarding Liverpool and Rafa (bless his soul). However this time I’ll leave all Liverpool related comments out of the system and talk about a little project that a group of players from around the world (from Chile to Portugal to Angola and the UK) have started in Poland. This weekend, our club – Krakow Dragoons – play our first official polish league system game in the first preliminary round of the Polish FA Cup. It’s been a long 4 year journey to get to this path and a lot of credit has to be given to the founder and chairman of the club Alex Bacica (from Romania). He does the job part time (it obviously isn’t paid) and for 3 years he’s been organising amateur football matches and tournaments as well as kickabouts for the growing community of foreigners in the city of Krakow. For 4 years a bunch of friends had been playing once a week on a local pitch and then 2 years ago he decided he wanted to create a club and enter the league system (becoming the first expat club to ever do so in Poland).

We had to start somewhere so the team was playing in the Krakow Sunday League (which had only ever been won by one team – who conveniently organised it *eye roll*) and was basically a mix of individual talents from around the world with no cohesion or structure. I was asked by Alex to be the coach (my previous experience being coaching an under 16’s team at a local Indian ethnic group level competition in North West London plus I’d just snapped my left hamstring) and I took on the role and I guess I’ve found a formula that plays well for our team as we from being bottom of that league, we finished 3rd with the best defensive record. So now we are entering the 8th level of the polish league system, we’ve got a home pitch, we’ve managed to get a sponsor (a lot of expats running companies here) and thanks to the local MZPN polish football federation, we’ve managed to get all of our players (Polish, EU and Non-EU) registered for the competitions (they are also helping us get the necessary coaching qualifications required). There’s already been a few racist comments (I’ve been attacked physically 4 times in one year) about our involvement but the federation is really behind us which is great as Poland has been lurching towards the right for a few years now.

So onto this weekend for our first game and our 18 man squad of a Chilean goalkeeper, 2 Italian defenders, an Irishman, 2 Englishmen, a Belarussian, a Ukrainian, an Angolan, a Romanian, a Turk, 5 Portuguese players and 2 Polish players. I’ll let you know how the game goes, wish us luck and hope you can follow us on our social media channels – Krakow Dragoons FC, we’re quite easy to find.
Ash, Krakow

 

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