Archive for March, 2009

Zoltan Gera: ?

March 25, 2009

Prior to his wonderful goal last Saturday, Zoltan Gera had to be the dissapointment of the season. People can talk about Simon Davies poor form (though now improving thankfully), or Jimmy Bullard’s “greed” or Bobby Zamora’s finishing or even Andy Johnson’s pricetag, but Zoltan Gera was the real loser here.

At times it can seem to be impossible to be dropped from a Roy Hodgson team. The great man’s greatest strength is his patience, and while it does make it tense for scoreboard analysts and knee-jerk reactionaries, it has proven to be an admirable trait. He never panics, and he doesn’t lie, and when he says, “We played well but unfortunatley..” you know that it’s not an excuse, and that calm extends itself to the team. How great is that? He is not perfect. But nobody is. He makes mistakes but everybody does. But as far as Fulham goes, I wouldn’t trade him for any other manager in the world.

But Roy dropped Zoltan Gera. And he still hasn’t clawed his way back.

Zoltan was a fairly early summer signing as far as I recall, and it seemed like he was a big part of Roy’s plans. But his form never really came together and while he showed promise… it just wasn’t there. And eventually Clint Dempsey got his chance and grabbed it by the forelock. And that was pretty much it for ZG. He’s been a reserve ever since.

It’s easy to see why Mr. Hodgson brought Zoltan Gera in. In theory he’s exactly the player this team needs. Rich keeps drilling it into our heads that one of the reasons that our attack looks so anemic and our defense looks so great is that that is the way it’s built. The midfielders’ emphasis is on positioning and defense and ball retention and short passing and possession rather than getting forward.

So to play up front Roy bought a nippy, intelligent finisher, and he got a big, strong, burly center forward to hold up the ball and distribute it from the front and he made sure they both defended and pressed worked for ninety minutes, and to help them he got Zoltan Gera.

The idea is that Gera can do the short passing, the possession, can handle the defense, but can also ghost in to the back post, can cut inside and curl in a shot to the far post. Can slip in up front and use his head. Can be the third man to join the attack, can add fluidity and dynamism and take advantage of space and be the third heat.

And he did some of all that from time to time but he didn’t put it all together, and then Clint got angry and trimmed the fat from his game and the rest is history.

I don’t know who the better player is between Zoltan and Clint. They have similar games, although Clint’s is a little more physical and Zoltan tends to glide a little more. What’s clear is that Clint has raised his game and that’s good for Fulham. What’s unclear is whether Zoltan would have done the same given more time. We have to assume that Roy knows what the two of them bring to the table, and I’ve got no complaints about his decision.

But it seems a shame to waste him, so when Zoltan sprang Andy Johnson and then received the return pass and twisted his body in the air and drove the ball past Edwin Van Der Sar, well, I was happy not just that Fulham had won, but that Zoltan Gera, the Magic Magyar, could be a part of it.

Zoltan Gera day is past now. The streamers have fallen down, the cake has been eaten, the last bottles put in the recycling. Sammy Davis Jr. and Gera Sr. have been bundled home. But I like to think that it won’t be too long until we celebrate again. Because Zoltan’s got a taste now. He’s started it and finished it and he’s done it against the BEST TEAM IN THE WORLD, and hopefully, somewhere out there, he’s waiting, like a coiled spring, for someone to take him for granted.

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Happy Zoltan Gera Day. Hands on your hearts please

March 23, 2009

And now we bring you something a little different, here on Zoltan Gera day. Something just to change the mood a bit. Please join me in a warm welcome for Mr. Sammy… Davis… Jr!

Thank you. I’m going to do a little number for you. It’s a bit of a departure for me, but I hope you like it. Hit it

Sings:

And did those feet, come just in time

to walk upon Fulham’s pitches green

And was the holy Roy Hodgson

On Fulham’s pleasant pitches seen

And did his managing divine?

Shine forth upon our muddled team

And was Man United beaten here

And all their red Satanic dreams

Bring me my Konch my Aaron Hughes

Bring me my Schwartzer and Zamora

Bring me Dan Murphy, and Etuhu

Bring me my Clint and ZOLTAN GERA!

Andy Johnson and John Pantsil

Simon Davies Brede Hangeland

Will come and beat United Two NIL

On Fulham’s green and pleasant land

APPLAUSE

CURTAIN

Zoltan: Lord of my refrigerator

March 23, 2009

You know you want one.

gera

His Father’s Son: The Zoltan Gera Story

March 23, 2009

Today is Zoltan Gera day at WithAPlum. Next we have a real treat for you, someone who is probably Zoltan Gera’s father doing an interview/feature for Hungarian TV.

The first four minutes are lots of Gera Sr. talking in Hungarian, with some sepia footage of Zoltan half assing it in practice. The second half of the video features Gera Sr. as Benny Hill in an indoor soccer game. Enjoy, and stay tuned for more Ger-reat stuff, on Zoltan Gera day.

Zoltan, destroyer of worlds…

March 23, 2009

Great goal by Zoltan Gera, eh? But then, what do you expect from an international superstar?

Something to dance to…

March 20, 2009

Last summer I wrote a post about decision making. At the end of the post, I included this postscript.

P.S. If any of my readers like a bet, I’d suggest betting on the A’s to win the AL West. The Angels would appear to have been extremely lucky so far.

In case you don’t know how this story ends, the AL West finished like this:

buildRows(standings_rs_alw);

West W L PCT GB E#
Los Angeles 100 62 .617
Texas 79 83 .488 21.0 E
Oakland 75 86 .466 24.5 E
Seattle 61 101 .377 39.0

Could have been worse right? I mean, Oakland only finished 24 and a half games out of first. Ugh.

So where did I go astray? How was I so deceived?

Well I was basing my prediction on something called “Pythagorean Expectation”. This is a basic tool of statistical analysis. Basically it looks at how many runs you score vs. how many you allow and this gives you a hypothetical winning percentage. You compare that to the real winning percentage and you can determine whether or not a team has been “lucky.” It’s like looking at goal difference and seeing that Hull is due for a slide down the table.

So round about the time I wrote that post, I noticed that Oakland was a few games behind the LAAA, and that LAAA was outperforming their Pythagorean and Oakland was under performing. Well I can put two and two together as well as the next guy, so I said, hey, the angels have been lucky, Oakland unlucky, over the course of the season Oakland’s luck will catch up and I’ll look really smart!

So where did it all go wrong? Why did the Angels end up completely dominating and why did Oakland sort of implode?

I don’t know. And I don’t really care. I don’t really want to do the research. This isn’t a baseball blog after all.

Here’s the important thing. What I failed to consider when making my original prediction last summer, was that maybe the Angels were lucky to have their record when their runs scored/runs allowed ratio was so close to .500. But maybe at the same time they were unlucky to have scored so few runs. Maybe their players had all been under performing at the same time that they were succeeding, making the team ‘s records lucky, but the team’s performance unlucky.

So what is the point of all this? All season long, on CCN and on TIFF and probably in the seats of Craven Cottage and the men’s rooms of bathrooms up and down South West London (or do you not do that in England?) people have been arguing over this year’s Fulham’s teams performance. We sit comfortably midtable. The question is, do we deserve to be there? Are we lucky to be there? Are we unlucky to not be higher?

Our position in the table seems fairly in line with our Goal Difference. But are we lucky to have the goal difference that we do? Or are we unlucky?

Our home record is outstanding. Are we lucky?

Our away record is pretty bad. Is that unlucky?

Are both true, thereby canceling each other out?

Are we unlucky that Simon Davies’ performance has suffered this year? Or were we lucky last year? Is this due to our playing system, or is this just an individual failing? Should this be counted in the bad luck category? Or should some regression be expected?

Our record is good but our forward’s have been poor. Is that unlucky? Should we actually be higher in the table? Or do our forwards’ scoring rates reflect their true talent, and therefore are we lucky to be midtable? Same in reverse for our defense?

So I don’t know the answer. Almost certainly we have been lucky in somethings and unlucky in others. But while for last year’s Angels, with a little bit of research I could certainly determine whether their final record meshed with their true talent level, we don’t have that option (yet) for Fulham.

The stats aren’t there yet.

Is this team playing below, to, or above it’s true potential? Is the difference luck, or is it Roy?

Will we regress next year, or advance?

Is there a God?

Let’s get these questions answered people.