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.

Just for the sake of curiosity pt. II

January 24, 2009

If someone offered you, a lifelong Fulham fan, 20k a week to go watch Hull home and away would you take it?

Just asking…

Just for the sake of curiosity..

January 24, 2009

Jimmy Bullard’s Fulham career, since fall of ‘o6

39 starts in 41 appearances

7 goals

6 assists

Clint Dempsey’s Fulham career, since January ’07

46 starts in 71 appearances

11 goals

2 assists

Take into account that Jimmy was injured for a lot of this time, but also consider the fact that Clint is five years younger, and that at the same stage in Jimmy’s career, he was playing for Wigan in the Championship.

Now, if Fulham had sold Clint Dempsey to Hull for 5 million because he wanted 45k a week, would anyone be that angry? Would we hate Clint? Would we hate the club?

Just asking…

Sometimes everybody wears a gray hat…

January 23, 2009

So Jimmy Bullard is gone, and in the immediate aftermath, it is difficult to avoid taking sides. Someone’s got to be the bad guy, right? Someone’s got to wear the black hat.

Except that in life and in football, there are rarely any downright bad guys. Just different goals and motives.

Q) Is Jimmy Bullard a bad guy?

A) No. He is a professional footballer. As such, it is his duty to show up to training, to listen to his manager, to play as hard as he can, to do his best, and to represent the club in public. Has Jimmy Bullard failed to do any of these things? He certainly never gave any less than his best, and while rumours of disagreements between him and Roy Hodgson have been rampant, nothing concrete has emerged.

Q) Is Jimmy Bullard a great big greedy guts?

A) It’s a matter of opinion, but I think not. By all reports, Hull are almost doubling his salary, plus offering him a long term contract. Any player around age thirty would be foolish to turn down a deal which could very well offer him guaranteed money up to his retirement. Jimmy knows better than most how fleeting football stardom can be, how it can all be taken from you in an instant. And the fact is, after this contract, the likelihood is that he will never again in his life make as much money.

Q) Is Jimmy Bullard being disloyal?

A) Personally, I feel the whole loyalty issue is a red herring. Jimmy Bullard played as hard as he could every time he stepped on the field. He wanted a new contract which Fulham did not offer him. There have been no signs that he refused to see out the remainder of his contract. Furthermore, he’s only been with Fulham for three years, a relatively small portion of his total playing career. And yes, Fulham did pay him his salary while he was injured. But for all we know, they were contractually obligated to do so. And frankly, considering he suffered a career-threatening injury in the service of the club, it would have been extremely cold and unfeeling for the club to do anything else. So, they protected their investment. And it’s paid off for the club hasn’t it?

Q) Is the club being disloyal?

A) No. They hired Jimmy Bullard to do a job. He did it. Now he works for someone else.

Q) Is the club being shortsighted?

A) Possibly. While the system is king (repeat after me: THE SYSTEM IS KING), there is no doubt that Fulham are a better team when Jimmy is working inside that system than they are without him… as far as we know. So in the short term this move could hurt. On the other hand, the club is being quite brilliantly farsighted. Jimmy Bullard *might* be worth 45,000k a week now. But the chances of him being worth that in four years is almost zero. It’s pretty likely that Hull are going to regret having this enormous albatross contract hanging around their necks in four years time. Furthermore, contrast Phil Brown’s approach with Roy Hodgson’s. Hodgson is clearly in it for the long haul. While I doubt he’s happy to lose Jimmy, he realizes that short term benefit isn’t worth risking the long term health of the club. Phil Brown is desperately searching for anything, anything, to stop the rot which is setting in now that the short term buzz of promotion has faded. So he says damn the future and Hull’s board has agreed. Good for them. And good for Fulham for having more sense.

SUMMARY: It is very disappointing to see Jimmy go. He was, on his day, a really fine player. But in the end, that’s football and that’s life. He and the club wanted different things, so they went different ways. So for us fans, caught in the middle between two entities we love, it’s important to remember that there isn’t always a hero and there’s not always a villain. Sometimes things just don’t work out.

Best of luck Jimmy. And I hope he gets a respectful round of applause next time he comes to Craven Cottage.

Is that a threat?

January 7, 2009

Leon Andreasen is a little bit fed up with his lack of playing time.

“The manager favours some others and that is fair enough,” he said in a recent interview with Danish newspaper DR Sporten. “But then I also expect that they will not destroy my career by holding onto me. “Maybe if there was a bomb in the dressing room and four players broke their legs then it might well be that I came to play.”

That’s just Leon being bitter. The bomb would only have to break the legs of any two out of Jimmy Bullard, Danny Murphy, Simon Davies, Zoltan Gera, Clint Dempsey, and now Dickson Etuhu. 

More to come, maybe.

Oi!

September 28, 2008

F365’s Winners and Losers (the losers section):

Fulham
Fulham are a likeable club but there’s been a dangerous and vicious element to some of their tackling this season.

Questions to ask after a loss

September 21, 2008

Was the loss a) the direct result of an endemic weakness in the team? Or was it b) the result of a specific error by a player or manager?

If a) is the weakness a.i.) a direct result of the team’s financial constraints? Or is it a.ii) the result of front office, managerial, or player neglect?

If b) was the error b.i.) typical? Or was it b.ii.) atypical? Or was it b.iii.) the necessary negative counterpoint to some positive trait?

All teams have weaknesses. Fulham can not field a perfect team. All players have weaknesses. Fulham’s players will never have perfect games. All managers have weaknesses. Roy Hodgson’s patience will at times be a virtue and at times a fault. Fulham will lose some games because their midfield is not scrappy. Their midfield is not scrappy because Fulham have limited funds and have chosen to emphasize passing, possession play and organization over tackling. Fulhamwill lose some games because players will make mistakes. Sometimes the mistakes will be boneheaded. Sometimes the mistakes will be because a player’s strength is in attack rather than defence. Fulham will lose some games because Roy Hodgson is a patient man. Fulham will win some games because Roy Hodgson is a patient man. Fulham will lose some games because crazy things happen in a sport decided by three or four definite events over the course of ninety minutes.

Frankly, this sport was invented by madmen, and only an equally mad man would spend any time at all trying to understand it. Do as you like, but I’m getting padded walls installed in my living room.