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Sunday, January 05, 2014

OT: The Soccer Thread January, 2014

With no Champions League or international matches of note, it’s all about the clubs an cup competitions this month:

January 6th: Lazio vs Inter
January 7th: Sunderland vs Man U in the League Cup, Valencia vs Atleti in Copa del Rey
January 8th: West Ham vs Man City in the League Cup
January 10th: Leicester City vs Derby in an important promotion game, Montpelier vs Monaco in Ligue Uhn.
January 11th: Cardiff vs West Ham in a relegation 6 pointer, will Man U lose to Swansea at home again?, but the day’s HUGE game is Barcelona hosting Atletico Madrid. This could decide La Liga.
January 12th: Newcastle vs Man City
January 13th: Aston Villa vs Arsenal
January 14th: FA Cup replays featuring Fulham vs Norwich, second leg of Valencia and Atleti in the Copa del Rey
January 15th: Man City host Blackburn in an FA Cup replay, Lyon vs Marseilles in the French Cup
January 17th: St. Etienne vs Lille
January 18th: Lots of games, no real standouts
January 19th: Swansea vs Spurs, Chelsea vs Man U
January 20th: West Brom vs Everton
January 21st: West Ham vs Man City in the League Cup
January 22nd: Man U vs Sunderland in the League Cup
January 24th: Monchengladbach vs Bayern Munich, not that it really matters
January 25th: FA Cup 4th round featuring Chelsea vs Stoke, Lazio vs Juventus, Monaco vs Marseilles
January 26th: Barca vs Malaga
January 28th: Liverpool vs Everton, Southampton vs Arsenal
January 29th: Tottenahm Hotspur FC vs Man City, Stuttgart vs Bayern
January 31st: Feyenoord vs Chelsea B in Holland, Braunschweig vs Borussia Dortmund

I’d say that Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid is the game of the month and declare it the BBTF Off Topic Game of the Month! Be there!

Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: January 05, 2014 at 05:16 PM | 1016 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: soccer

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   901. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: February 23, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4661053)
Huge win for Norwich. Now four points off the drop.
   902. Spivey Posted: February 23, 2014 at 02:06 PM (#4661055)
That Liverpool game was frustrating, Swansea just kept pushing themselves back into it. The obvious need for this team is defense, they've already got enough offensive firepower to hang with almost anyone in Europe.


I think the biggest thing they need is a tank defensive midfielder (to replace Gerrard). I think in order to get their best players on the field something like 4-3-3 or the like is necessary, but with Coutinho and Henderson out there - and they probably both should be - you need a holding midfielder that's willing to blow up plays. Obviously, Busquets is a world class player, so every team could use someone like him. But I think he's exactly what their team needs.
   903. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: February 23, 2014 at 02:07 PM (#4661056)
Just awful from Spurs. Bad Spurs against a lousy team is about as fun as watching paint dry.
   904. Spivey Posted: February 23, 2014 at 04:18 PM (#4661119)
Liverpool is by far the most interesting team in the league, right?

Inconsistent defense, no strength in central midfield, world class attacking.
   905. jmurph Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:35 PM (#4661436)
I'm not really objective about Spurs, so take this with a grain of salt, but they strike me as being a string of world class Lloris saves away from being in 8th or so place.

He's incredible- is there anyone better in the world at the moment? I don't see enough of the other leagues.
   906. just plain joe Posted: February 24, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4661454)
I guess I picked the wrong morning to roll over and go back to sleep, missed 6! goals.


Remember, the DVR is your friend.
   907. frannyzoo Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:05 PM (#4661528)
I just want it publicly known that I was an extremely nice person for not bringing up
Norwich City 1 - Spurs 0 in some sort of

Norwich RULEZZZZZZZZ, Spurs Suck!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!1!!!!!!

type post yesterday. Yes, I'm pathetic that way instead.

In other news, Parma has a chance today to get much closer to Europe, especially after Inter continued to flounder again yesterday against lowly Cagliari at home. I'm a Donadoni fanboy and love their kit. The ham and cheese in Parma are good, too.
   908. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: February 24, 2014 at 02:27 PM (#4661538)
I just want it publicly known that I was an extremely nice person for not bringing up
Norwich City 1 - Spurs 0 in some sort of

Norwich RULEZZZZZZZZ, Spurs Suck!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!1!!!!!!

type post yesterday. Yes, I'm pathetic that way instead.


I wouldn't even have minded. Spurs DID suck yesterday, Norwich were much better and fully deserved the victory.
   909. Mefisto Posted: February 24, 2014 at 03:46 PM (#4661597)
USWNT Algarve Cup roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Jill Loyden (Sky Blue FC), Alyssa Naeher (Boston Breakers), Hope Solo (Seattle Reign FC)
DEFENDERS (9): Stephanie Cox (Seattle Reign FC), Whitney Engen (Tyresö), Meghan Klingenberg (Tyresö), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kristie Mewis (Boston Breakers), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Christie Rampone (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Rachel Van Hollebeke (Portland Thorns FC)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Virginia), Tobin Heath (Paris Saint-Germain), Sarah Killion (UCLA), Carli Lloyd (WNY Flash), Samantha Mewis (UCLA), Heather O’Reilly (Boston Breakers), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)
FORWARDS (5): Sarah Hagen (Bayern Munich), Sydney Leroux (Seattle Reign FC), Christen Press (Tyresö), Amy Rodriguez (FC Kansas City), Abby Wambach (WNY Flash)

Alex Morgan is still out injured. Klingenberg, Killion, S. Mewis, and Hagen are interesting choices.
   910. Mattbert Posted: February 24, 2014 at 04:56 PM (#4661627)
I'm not really objective about Spurs, so take this with a grain of salt, but they strike me as being a string of world class Lloris saves away from being in 8th or so place.

Yep. And this summer they are going to lose him, Vertonghen, and probably a few other top class players who continue to look less and less interested in playing for Tottenham with each passing week. Spurs really are the Mets of England still, that much has certainly been made clear by this stupid season.
   911. frannyzoo Posted: February 25, 2014 at 01:08 PM (#4662124)
I can never spell the Dortmund *kid's name right, but dude can play. How long he plays for Dortmund is another matter.

*He's 25? Wow, wunderkinds do get better, despite that rarely working for me in FM.
   912. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: February 25, 2014 at 05:09 PM (#4662363)
United look terrible. I would say mean things, but really they just remind me of Spurs. Not great effort, and they don't look like they have any idea what they are doing tactically.
   913. ursus arctos Posted: February 25, 2014 at 05:23 PM (#4662378)
So much for the away team sweep.
   914. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 25, 2014 at 05:44 PM (#4662390)
Manchester United fan in my office is miserable. I almost feel bad for him.

Darkness is right, they look horrific. Like I was saying to my co-worker some adjustment period was predictable but this is shades of the Bobby Valentine Red Sox right now, they are not just not improving they seem to be actively getting worse. It's probably unfair but I feel like they are going to have to cut Moyes loose at the end of the season just to do "something."
   915. Mefisto Posted: February 25, 2014 at 06:00 PM (#4662410)
I wouldn't have believed it possible for United to play that badly.
   916. PepTech Posted: February 25, 2014 at 06:14 PM (#4662424)
So much for the away team sweep.
I'd like to claim I was shooting for the jinx, but I am truly shocked at this result. I don't have any of Jose's apparent qualms about feeling bad for my coworkers, though, they can sit there next to the Yankees fans and be morose for all I care.

He says as long as SAF is around, Moyes will never be sacked. Says they'll buy whoever they need to get back on track, probably with an altered plan of attack, "and they'll make Europe next year". Clearly more humbling is needed, perhaps a City treble, followed by relegation next season...
   917. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 25, 2014 at 07:55 PM (#4662493)
I've watched up until the first goal. What an abject showing and I'm guessing it doesn't get any better. I've said it before that I think Moyes is gone if United isn't in a top four position next March. He hasn't shown me that he has a good plan. I still don't see the point of bringing in Mata in the winter and to play him out of position. Moyes needs to grow a set and play one striker. Sit Rooney or RVP and play Mata where he should be played. Rooney's position behind the striker is justified because of his passing and playmaking ability but I haven't seen that (even as he's been one of United's better players this season).
   918. J. Sosa Posted: February 25, 2014 at 11:06 PM (#4662564)
Loris: He has been great especially as often as he has been left on an island. How he has managed to avoid getting sent off every other match I don't know. I don't really understand Barcelona's transfer dealings (nor do the Spanish tax poobahs) but he is perfect for them. Other than Neur I would have to think long and hard who I would take over him.

Liverpool: Earlier this season I wondered if Rodgers would elect a damn the torpedoes strategy. I think that question has been answered. There has been a lot of speculation as to why the defense is so bad. I think there are a bunch of reasons. One, whatever Rodgers might say about individual errors Henderson and Coutinho are playing as attacking mids. I don't have a problem with it as the offense is amazing. I do think it is a little disingenuous for Rodgers to claim tactics have not played a role though. To see Henderson transformed into Mkitryan lite has been a wonder. But... That leaves Gerrard galloping around the back. He just cannot maintain discipline. He adds to the offense, and when he stays on point his tackling is an asset, but he just gets sucked out of position too often. The third problem is that the fullbacks are injured or bad. The fourth is that the center backs have been injured or bad. If it where me, I think Sakho is the only guy I want starting games on a regular basis next season. Flanagan has shown he is a decent cover player but the fact that he is the fullback on the roster I feel most comfortable with out there speaks volumes. If Illori is indeed legit that would help and would save some cash for a pair of fullbacks this summer.

Man U: I found the RVP purchase odd and out of character at the time. SAF knew what he was doing though. RVP was the spackle that got him that one last title. If it weren't Man U I would feel bad for them but I don't. I wanted to see Moyes get a shot but I don't think it is going to work out. I think Boxing day next year is the deadline.
   919. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 26, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4662677)
Rumors coming from everywhere! I guess in this day and age it was bound to happen. I wonder if there was talk about how much Rooney's deal was going to be on the Stock Exchange.

Edit: So the odds for next manager sacked has also swung wildly with Moyes jumping to the top of the list.
   920. PepTech Posted: February 26, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4662833)
I've watched up until the first goal. What an abject showing and I'm guessing it doesn't get any better.
I just watched the 15 minutes or so ending with the second goal, and my thoughts watching the run of play were "this is MLS". Or maybe a summer friendly *against* an MLS team...
   921. ursus arctos Posted: February 26, 2014 at 02:36 PM (#4662931)
I really don't see Man Utd canning Moyes during the season unless Ferguson is willing to come back, and I don't think that Ferguson is willing to do that.
   922. Swedish Chef Posted: February 26, 2014 at 02:46 PM (#4662944)
Yeah, it's not like a successor would have a better shot at getting to 4th now.
   923. frannyzoo Posted: February 26, 2014 at 03:03 PM (#4662971)
I'm hoping today's narrative turns from "MUFC CRISIS!!!" to "Jose Not as Smart as Thought," but I'm not optimistic. Galatasaray being here and Juventus not is still shocking to me.
   924. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 26, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4662987)
If they're going to do it, then this is probably a good time as any. No coach is going to be able to salvage the season, but the coaching carousel is going to be more fluid this summer because of the World Cup. For instance, say if Van Gaal or Prandelli is a target, then it would probably be best for United to let whoever know that they are targets and that any new coach would get a jump start on evaluating the team and targeting specific players, plus fend off any other any other teams that might be interested in either coach.
   925. ursus arctos Posted: February 26, 2014 at 03:53 PM (#4663038)
But neither of those guys (or any of the other big name candidates) is available. Which is why you would need Ferguson as the caretaker, unless you think it makes sense to go with the likes of Rene Meulensteen.

It certainly would be prudent for them to look for alternatives, but you don't need to fire Moyes in order to be able to do that (though one can certainly see Woodward screwing that up).
   926. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 26, 2014 at 04:33 PM (#4663062)
Yea, there would definitely need to be a caretaker, but it would allow a little more flexibility for the next guy. It would seem to be preferable to any lame-duck Moyes season where he would continue to look flummoxed and have to answer questions about "who he needs to bring in to improve the team." It seems clear that he can't motivate the current players. At least with a caretaker you can at least get an idea of if any of the current slackers are just playing like crap for Moyes or are just plain crap.
   927. CWS Keith plans to boo your show at the Apollo Posted: February 26, 2014 at 04:56 PM (#4663075)
Who would be on the short-list for next Man-U manager? I looked on an odds website, and it was mostly a "who's who" list with SAF at the top. The guys I thought of were Simeone, Pochettino and de Boer, but I don't know how likely any of those are. Would Heynckes be a possibility? Maybe throw gobs of money at Klopp?

EDIT: And despite the round of 16 being a bit of a bore (so far), I think we're in for at least three tasty quarterfinal match-ups.
   928. ursus arctos Posted: February 26, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4663108)
   929. ursus arctos Posted: February 26, 2014 at 05:37 PM (#4663110)
There's a story going around that Ferguson offered the job to Ancelloti, but that he had already agreed to take over Madrid.

Looking at the respective paths of the two clubs this season, Man Utd must wish they had pulled the trigger earlier.

6-0 at Schalke, btw.
   930. ursus arctos Posted: February 26, 2014 at 05:39 PM (#4663112)
6-1 final.

Gala come back to draw 1-1 with Chelsea in Istanbul.
   931. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 26, 2014 at 06:25 PM (#4663153)
United would have to try and get Klopp, wouldn't they? Someone with more "continental" experience for sure.
   932. ursus arctos Posted: February 26, 2014 at 06:57 PM (#4663174)
These are the people who hired Greg Schiano . . .
   933. PepTech Posted: February 26, 2014 at 07:14 PM (#4663187)
6-1 final
Huntelaar's goal is a wowzer, so he's got that going for him. Which is nice.
   934. frannyzoo Posted: February 27, 2014 at 01:22 AM (#4663327)
Re: Ursus' link in #928. I know the family of the former UNM player. Once I saw the NM photos at the top of the story, I already knew what must follow, although the CTE link was all news to me. It is a very painful thing. All of it. ALS is pretty much the sum of all bad cosmic jokes put together, especially in one so young.

I teach quite a few hard-core soccer playing middle schoolers here in ABQ. I tell them they might well see 100% headgear "futbol" in the not-too-distant future. They laugh at the idea.
   935. I am going to be Frank Posted: February 27, 2014 at 09:57 AM (#4663372)
Is there any connection with ALS to CTE?
   936. Swedish Chef Posted: February 27, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4663608)
Anelka gets five games.
   937. Esmailyn Gonzalez Sr. Posted: February 27, 2014 at 05:29 PM (#4663789)
Spurs game is.....eventful?
   938. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: February 27, 2014 at 06:01 PM (#4663804)
Spurs saved by Eriksen, Adebayor and the ref. Hopefully that gets the idea of sitting Eriksen out of Sherwood's head.
   939. ursus arctos Posted: February 27, 2014 at 06:12 PM (#4663813)
Some interesting ties in the Round of 16:

AZ 67 - Anzhi
Ludogoretz - Valencia
Porto - Napoli
Olympique Lyon - Viktoria Plzen
Sevilla - Betis
Tottenham - Benfica
Basel - Red Bull Salzburg
Juventus - Fiorentina
   940. ursus arctos Posted: February 27, 2014 at 06:27 PM (#4663824)
   941. J. Sosa Posted: February 27, 2014 at 06:33 PM (#4663825)
Even Busquets would be ashamed of that one.
   942. ursus arctos Posted: February 27, 2014 at 06:52 PM (#4663830)
It's the pre-meditation that sets it apart from the Busquets and Rivaldos of the world for me.

I'm convinced that he was looking for the result he got from the moment he started striding across the pitch.
   943. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: February 27, 2014 at 07:14 PM (#4663841)
The opposing player definitely dipped his head into Vertonghen which makes it a bit better than Rivaldo for me but Vertonghen should still get a five game suspension. Until UEFA/FIFA start seriously doing something about this it is not going to change.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. This crap pisses me off because it happens just enough to give ammunition to nitwits who say "oh soccer is a bunch of nancy boys diving all over the place."
   944. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: February 27, 2014 at 07:50 PM (#4663853)
I don't think the Vertonghen incident is anywhere close to Rivaldo levels. He was walking towards him and making contact because this was the run-up to a free kick and he was about to start jockeying for position. Here's a gif with another angle. You can see Vertonghen's head rock back from the contact. I think he went to push him and wasn't expecting the head contact (which looks quite intentional if you watch the dnipro player). He does go down like a sack of potatoes of course.

Either way, this was a much more blatant red card so Dnipro have every right to feel hard done by
   945. JuanGone..except1game Posted: February 27, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4663857)
Shameful


He's good at getting people sent off this season, that Vertonghen. Follows his amateur work vs Torres in the Fall, with just a master class in extreme diving. Whether its worse than Rivaldo or not, that's a Hall of Fame entry.
   946. Textbook Editor Posted: February 27, 2014 at 08:17 PM (#4663861)
You can see Vertonghen's head rock back from the contact.


Yeah, this was pretty clear to me on the replays on Fox I saw. Did he go into it looking to perhaps get this response from the guy? Maybe. Did he exaggerate the effect of the head butt? Maybe.

But... The guy still head-butted him and made contact. You do that, you're going to get a red card. I've seen red cards given for attempted head butts. It's just a completely idiotic thing to do. Don't want to get a red card? Don't even make the attempt at head-butting a guy when you're on the pitch.

I'm not saying Vertonghen didn't exaggerate the effect of the head butt. I'm not saying he didn't go looking to wind the guy up. But he did get hit, and it was an intentional head butt motion the guy made, and that'll be a red card in almost any match you play in. I don't see Vertonghen getting any kind of suspension, but I could be wrong.
   947. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: February 27, 2014 at 08:23 PM (#4663863)
Yeah, I feel like my spurs fandom must be interfering with what I'm seeing because it looks like a clear headbutt that makes contact to me. The Dnipro player lowers his head and moves forward at the last second and from the back angle you can see Vertonghen's whole head ripple from the impact.
   948. nick swisher hygiene Posted: February 27, 2014 at 08:42 PM (#4663867)
you Spurs fans must be kidding....watch the other guys body, below the neck: ZERO energy provided from him--he just angles his head before contact. he's never going forward. 947--if I thought it possible I'd say you must have not just a different angle but a different event....
   949. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 27, 2014 at 08:53 PM (#4663872)
Zozulya head-butts him, but doesn't make much contact. Vertonghen takes a second, realizes what's happened and goes down. Headbutting someone, even if you do it poorly, is worse than overselling the results of that headbutt, both by the rules of football and in my opinion. By the rules of football, it's a completely nailed on red card. There's a case for a yellow card for Vertonghen there for embellishment, but a suspension would be massively over the top.
   950. zack Posted: February 27, 2014 at 08:57 PM (#4663873)
I'm not sure which of you are Spurs fans, but unless you are one I don't see how you can possibly call that a 'headbutt'. IF there is even contact to the head (cheek)*, it is incidental and more a result of bracing for Vertonghen's chest bump than any attempt to injure.

* Which I'm not convinced of, the 'reverse angle' shows his head move but that could just be from bumping shoulders, you can't see the other player's head at all.
   951. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 27, 2014 at 09:00 PM (#4663875)
Zozulya had been pulling chippy stuff like that all day. There's no way he didn't mean the head-butt. The fact that it was not a particularly successful headbutt is neither here nor there. Vertonghen had been chippy right back all day, he saw the opportunity when Zozulya committed a red card offense and he took it.

   952. Mefisto Posted: February 27, 2014 at 09:05 PM (#4663879)
I'm not a Spurs fan, but it looks like a headbutt to me. Not much of one, but he's an idiot for doing it.
   953. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: February 27, 2014 at 09:19 PM (#4663881)
you Spurs fans must be kidding....watch the other guys body, below the neck: ZERO energy provided from him--he just angles his head before contact. he's never going forward. 947--if I thought it possible I'd say you must have not just a different angle but a different event....

Why am I supposed to only watch his body below the neck? You can generate energy by moving your head forward with your neck. Some people have even been known to call such a thing a head-butt. The guy rises up on his toes and then moves his head forward right as Vertonghen (who is looking to the side at this point) gets to him.

I'm not sure which of you are Spurs fans, but unless you are one I don't see how you can possibly call that a 'headbutt'. IF there is even contact to the head (cheek)*, it is incidental and more a result of bracing for Vertonghen's chest bump than any attempt to injure.

* Which I'm not convinced of, the 'reverse angle' shows his head move but that could just be from bumping shoulders, you can't see the other player's head at all.
There's clearly head-to-head contact. Both angles show his head move.



   954. Sean Forman Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:25 PM (#4663896)
Put me down as a vote for 1) pure instigation and embellishment on Vertonghen's part and 2) an honest-to-goodness head butt.
   955. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:42 PM (#4663900)
Clear headbutt. Vertonghen also clearly exaggerated it, but if it should be a red, it should be a red. Of course, Soldado should have been sent off in the first half...Spurs very fortunate to still be in this competition.
   956. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: February 27, 2014 at 10:45 PM (#4663903)
Well, then, put me down for 1) clear head butt from Zozulya, 2) clear floptastic flailing from Vertonghen and 3) clear elbow from Soldado.

Red, Yellow, Red!
   957. Spivey Posted: February 27, 2014 at 11:31 PM (#4663917)
In my book Vertonghen created all of that contact. The guy definitely put his head down, so that the top of his head hit or would hit Vertonghen, but it was Vertonghen who walked into him on purpose. I have a serious problem with that being called a red card. If that's a legit red, then most games should end with a grand total of 4 players.
   958. J. Sosa Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:11 AM (#4663943)
Spurs fans can be humorous at times.

Dnipro got jobbed but I am glad Spurs are still in Europa. Otherwise I would not get to further observe the recurring and mystifying level of performance on display against Norwich that by sheer coincidence mirrors road fixtures in eastern Europe.
   959. Swedish Chef Posted: February 28, 2014 at 07:10 AM (#4663956)
Bad news for Spurs' silly season, Halilovic goes to Barcelona.
   960. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 28, 2014 at 07:30 AM (#4663960)
J.Sosa-

Daniel Altman ran a study on Europa effects, and he found only a small effect. The regression of Europa League clubs looks much more like a case of regression to the mean than an effect of playing in the Europa League. Newcastle fell a huge distance between 2011-2012 and 2012-2013, but the big factor there was that the 2011-2012 Newcastle side actually weren't that good, and when their finishing rates and performance in close matches returned to normal, they fell off.

I do think there will be small Europa effects for smaller clubs without the depth to rotate if they take Europe reasonably seriously, but that shouldn't be a major issue for Spurs.

Spurs finished 5th in 2010-2011 on 62 points and qualified for the Europa League. Playing in Europa the next season, Spurs took 69 points in the league and finished fourth, qualifying for the Champions League... d'oh. Playing in Europa the next season, Spurs took 72 points in the league and finished fifth. Playing in Europa the next season, Spurs are on pace to take 70 points in the league and finish 5th. The club's remained right where a dead simple financial determinist model would put them.

Spurs have lost a bunch of their post-Europa matches this year, but (1) that includes the Newcastle loss, which was actually one of the best performances by a Spurs squad all season - play it again the same way and I bet we win 4-0 and (2) the sample is tiny. Weird things happen.
   961. J. Sosa Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:45 AM (#4663980)
I am aware of the study. I am also aware that Spurs fans in general don't seem to think Europa matters. As a fan of the opposition, I am quite happy for that state of affairs to continue.

There are such things as random fluctuation, but I would humbly suggest this is more a case of not being granular enough in analysis. I am generally dubious of appeals to the luck fairy by nature and prone to suspicions that insufficient knowledge is a more likely culprit.

Liverpool are not in Europe this year. This is not a case of Liverpool playing Braga in March and Tottenham playing Madrid in April like it was a few seasons ago. And even if it were, I would argue that a drop of around 1 spot in the table (IIRC) tends to be rather costly for clubs like ours even if I simply take the study at face value.

Liverpool I suspect have to be playing at the high end of whatever internal projections they might have had before this season. They have also benefited from instability at Spurs and Man U and not being in Europe. That difference is hopefully enough to get LFC into the top four. How much of a value would I put on not being in Europa? That's a tough call. I think Spurs' squad overall is better than LFC's, but LFC + no Europe + AVB turmoil + roster turnover + two elite strikers playing out of their mind is looking like it might be enough. Or put more simply, a mere difference of one league spot.
   962. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 28, 2014 at 12:53 PM (#4664114)
I didn't get to see the game yesterday, but the gif I saw it sure looked like a flop. I don't know what to make of it, but Tottenham vs Benfica is as classic a European tie as you can get outside the obvious ones (Real vs Ac Milan, Ajax vs Juventus and so on.) Lots of good stuff in the next round of the Europa. Johansson and Boyd's respective clubs are still in it, too. I think Spurs are dead in the water for top 4 this season so I only hope there's some glory either in Europe or a win against Arsenal or Chelsea coming. It's been a bitter, weirdly joyless season so far but I'm not ready to start worrying about silly season bullshit yet.

I'll have a March thread up in the next day or so. I've actually had some work to do this last couple of weeks, dammit.
   963. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:35 PM (#4664141)
I didn't get to see the game yesterday, but the gif I saw it sure looked like a flop.

It was a flop in the sense that Vertonghen decided to take a tumble a second after he realized what happened, but it was undeniably a headbutt.

I think Spurs are dead in the water for top 4 this season so I only hope there's some glory either in Europe or a win against Arsenal or Chelsea coming. It's been a bitter, weirdly joyless season so far but I'm not ready to start worrying about silly season bullshit yet.

Definitely a weird season to be a Spurs fan, but I think it's been mostly enjoyable. Granted, I derive weird pleasure from the blowout losses, because once the loss is assured, hell, why not lose 5-0 or whatever? (Yeah, yeah, goal difference, etc...)
   964. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: February 28, 2014 at 01:48 PM (#4664151)
Definitely a weird season to be a Spurs fan, but I think it's been mostly enjoyable. Granted, I derive weird pleasure from the blowout losses, because once the loss is assured, hell, why not lose 5-0 or whatever? (Yeah, yeah, goal difference, etc...)

There have been some bright spots--Adebayor's return, Bentaleb's emergence from nowhere and the win at Old Trafford. On the other hand, I was gutted things didn't work out with AVB, especially since the club passed on Roberto Martinez to get him. I liked AVB and really hoped he'd do well but I can't deny the style of play was turgid and his man management is terrible. A shame. Soldado and Lamela flopping has been another sour not for me since I was really looking forward to seeing those guys play. Soldado was such a warrior for Valencia and I couldn't wait to see some his his skill and fire in the Lilywhite. And Lamela...I blame AVB a lot for that but that has been a crushing disappointment. Looking forward, I think Lloris and Vertonghen will leave in the summer as well as Baldini and there will be a big question mark over Sherwood's head so thing are going to be uncertain and chaotic again. I just feel like an opportunity has passed the club by as top 4 won't be getting any easier going forward. Meanwhile Bale and Modric are killing it in Madrid. Sigh.
   965. Baldrick Posted: February 28, 2014 at 02:16 PM (#4664162)
I'm not sure which of you are Spurs fans, but unless you are one I don't see how you can possibly call that a 'headbutt'. IF there is even contact to the head (cheek)*, it is incidental and more a result of bracing for Vertonghen's chest bump than any attempt to injure.

I am blown away that anyone could call that a 'head butt.' I literally can see nothing wrong with it. He drops his head a bit, but there is really isn't ANY forward movement of his head. If anything, he's bracing for some idiot running into him.

Vertonghen should be embarrassed with himself - and suspended for a month.
   966. PepTech Posted: February 28, 2014 at 08:02 PM (#4664333)
I am blown away that anyone could call that a 'head butt.'
I was skeptical from the gif posted above, but check out a couple of these videos. The more I see of it, the less problem I have with the red card. The third video down, daily motion, has more footage of the same angle as the gif, and the headbutt was after another push between the two. The shot from the opposite goal is particularly damning for Zozulya.

That being said, Vertonghen gets an Oscar for embellishment.
   967. Baldrick Posted: February 28, 2014 at 09:19 PM (#4664359)
I watched the videos and the gifs a couple times. If that is a foul, much less a red card, then no football game should ever be allowed to finish. He lowered his head. That's it. There was no forward movement of the head at all. Watch the gifs frame by frame if you don't believe me. His head ONLY moves back after Vertonghen runs into him. If he hadn't lowered his head, he would have simply made hit Vertonghen's head with his face rather than his forehead.

I am genuinely stunned that anyone thinks there is even an argument to be made here.
   968. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: February 28, 2014 at 10:32 PM (#4664378)
Here's the gif from the angle PepTech mentioned (I think). I continue to see a headbutt, but no doubt my eyes are exhausted from watching all these extra Europa League fixtures.

And again, either way Dnipro were screwed. Soldado's elbow was a blatant red card earlier in the game and there's no way Spurs would have come back if that had been given.
   969. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: February 28, 2014 at 11:08 PM (#4664385)
There are such things as random fluctuation, but I would humbly suggest this is more a case of not being granular enough in analysis. I am generally dubious of appeals to the luck fairy by nature and prone to suspicions that insufficient knowledge is a more likely culprit.
Well, there's the "luck fairy" as there's mirror-reading wins and losses for analysis. I don't like either, and it seems to me you're edging close to the latter.

Liverpool have been fantastic this year while Spurs have been poor since about the Newcastle game in November. I don't think that has much to do with Europa. The effect has been constant through the season for Liverpool, while for Spurs there is a clear inflection point after Newcastle. I think the inflection was mostly about tactics, as AVB ditched the high press but replaced it with nothing, and now Tactics Tim has replaced that nothing with a more English nothing in a vest. Liverpool's success has a lot to do with Luis Suarez and Brendan Rodgers as compared to AVB, Sherwood and Erik Lamela.
   970. Spivey Posted: March 01, 2014 at 12:08 AM (#4664394)
I actually think Liverpool has an outside chance of winning the league. Now that they have Sturridge and Suarez both playing and in world class form, they're so tough up front. And Sterling and Henderson have emerged as players that look like they could be some of the best players in England in a couple of years.
   971. Baldrick Posted: March 01, 2014 at 12:52 PM (#4664467)
Well, that's Arsenal's season over. They seemed reasonably good for a big chunk of the year and then completely lost their chance of silverware in late February and early March. Who could have predicted it?
   972. Biff, highly-regarded young guy Posted: March 01, 2014 at 12:59 PM (#4664469)
Alan Pardew sent to the stands for headbutting a Hull player. Hahahaha.
   973. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 01, 2014 at 01:06 PM (#4664472)
[edit] A lot of that going around these days ...
   974. JuanGone..except1game Posted: March 01, 2014 at 01:29 PM (#4664484)
Maybe its Wigan's win last year, but I just have this feeling that Sunderland has a chance tomorrow. However, money will not be spent as I'm not crazy.

Good win by Chelsea, though Mou's lack of rotation worries me for Spurs next week. Hazard has to be exhausted at this point. And I do think Arsenal's done, though I never believed that they had a chance.
   975. Spivey Posted: March 01, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4664488)
I wouldn't completely rule Arsenal out. It's very bunched up top and head to head fixtures will have a lot to say on how it plays out. I don't like Arsenal's chances though, and haven't really for a couple of months. With Ozil in poor form and Ramsey out, they just don't have enough goal scoring.
   976. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 01, 2014 at 01:46 PM (#4664492)
The Cannibal was hungry!
   977. JuanGone..except1game Posted: March 01, 2014 at 01:56 PM (#4664504)
Don't know if anyone has seen the new Ter Stegen blunder. I hope for everyone's sake that Barcelona sees him as Valdes's successor as he's a mental error waiting to happen.
   978. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 01, 2014 at 03:11 PM (#4664545)
This is interesting. I'm not sure I entirely agree, but it is an interesting note.
   979. Spivey Posted: March 01, 2014 at 03:59 PM (#4664562)
Liverpool is terribly entertaining to watch, but at some point their lack of of a defensive spine is going to cost them. They're incredibly young and talented at a lot of positions though, if they can get a good defender and a good central mid - and they keep Suarez - they could be contenders for the next 5 or 10 years. I suppose ultimately it's going to really come down to Suarez, because they've got the money to fill the other positions well enough.
   980. Spivey Posted: March 01, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4664573)
Regarding #978, I'd need to think about it more, but it doesn't surprise me at all that defenders play the least. I liken it to goalkeepers. Although if you have a world class goalkeeper, he's almost certainly the only goalkeeper you will use, you need at least 1 more if not 2 on the bench because the price is so high if you need one and don't have them. I liken center backs to that. There's a lot of guys that can reasonably well play in an attacking position on the field.
   981. J. Sosa Posted: March 01, 2014 at 05:34 PM (#4664620)
re:969

If the "luck fairy" comment was taken as a personal comment, I did not intend it that way, it was a reference to the stats community at large. I'm sensitive to the fact that I'm not the one doing the work and making the effort, but mirror reading or no I don't think "weird things happen" is substantively different than mirror reading which is a point I've tried to make on various stats blogs since the 90's.

The posts you make at Cartilage Captain are among the the most interesting reads for football, I appreciate the effort that goes into it. "Luck" in analysis is a pet peeve of mine, going back to the days before defense, baserunning, and catcher defense were appreciated. We know now why some clubs are good that we (the stats observant people) might not have known why were good twenty years ago. I wasn't sure at the time why Popovic played Bowen so much, but I tended to think there was a reason he did, etc. etc. (Maybe the geeks have figured that out now, I haven't followed the NBA for a few seasons). I'm not trying to represent anything other than what I am, a stats moderate which on a stats site probably puts me in the Luddite wing.

I am not unaware that "luck" (I prefer random fluctuation, it sounds prettier) has a significant impact. The season after Newcastle's fifth place finish I pegged them on here for a huge regression for that exact reason. The quibble I have is that for a club in Tottenham's (or Liverpool's) position is that Europa is not worth it even if the expected outcome is a loss of "only" one league position. That's going to smart a bit this season as it did last season (and for that matter, the season before when Chelsea won the Champions league). When a club is that close, things on the margin are magnified. The risk reward ratio is out of whack. I'm not the Spurs fan, I remain puzzled why Spurs fans don't hate Europa with the passion of a thousand suns. If Europa can be expected to cost a club around one league position, that would mean it has cost Spurs Champions league three years running. But hey, I'm not a Spurs fan. They can keep on ******* that chicken. Pay me no mind.
   982. Darkness and the howling fantods Posted: March 01, 2014 at 07:15 PM (#4664661)
Part of it is probably that Spurs fans expectations are different from Liverpool fans. Europa is the highest profile competition that Spurs have any legitimate chance of winning in the foreseeable future (depending on what you think of the FA cup). The height of expectation for the league is 4th, maybe 3rd in a dream scenario. That's obviously important financially, and I'll root for that as hard as I can. But the reality is that they will be outspent significantly by at least 5 teams when it comes to wages and they will consistently lose their best players until they're able to up their wage structure dramatically. Until that happens - and hopefully the new stadium will help - their chances of establishing themselves as a regular in the top four are quite small.

Given that, I'll take a small drop in their chance at the 4th position for a legitimate attempt to win Europa.
   983. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 01, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4664685)
This is probably not an especially new viewpoint but to me strikers are the equivalent of pitchers. Put the best in the world on any team and they have a puncher's chance against any other team. Suarez and Sturridge are a gigantic twin get out of jail free card. No matter what is happening in a match given just a sliver of an opportunity the ball is in the back of the net.

On the Pardew thing boy a lot hinges on how you saw it. I read "Pardew headbutts Hull player" before I saw it. That put an image in my head that was a LOT more violent than what Pardew actually did. Frankly I don't think his headbutt was that much more of a headbutt than the Dinamo player the other night. As a non-player he certainly has no business doing it but it wasn't as outrageous as I was expecting to see or even close to it.
   984. Textbook Editor Posted: March 01, 2014 at 09:27 PM (#4664714)
Part of it is probably that Spurs fans expectations are different from Liverpool fans. Europa is the highest profile competition that Spurs have any legitimate chance of winning in the foreseeable future (depending on what you think of the FA cup).


Yeah, this is it for me--Winning Europa is probably the best trophy we have any chance of winning (at least unless/until a new stadium with larger capacity/bigger gameday revenues, etc. opens). I'd love to win Europa and, frankly, at this point, CL is a bit of a pipe dream barring a Liverpool collapse.

I'm not sure what the max upside for Spurs is in CL--my guess would be we should be ecstatic if they made the quarterfinals again, and genuinely blown away by a semifinal appearance, but that's about the best possible outcome they'll ever get. That's nothing to sniff at, mind you, but winning an actual trophy to me is more fun than saying "They made the final 8!" in CL. But YMMV.
   985. J. Sosa Posted: March 01, 2014 at 11:37 PM (#4664742)
Liverpool winning the Carling cup was nice. But I would much rather finish top four than win either domestic cup or the UEFA cup. I have been surprised how much the notion of LFC getting into the champions league means to me. Probably more than the Red Sox world series win. Sacrilege.

I think Spurs should think bigger. You never know. The Istanbul LFC team was unlikely. Spurs tore apart a champions league winner like Inter. Yeah Inter was past it, but they don't come much bigger in terms of clubs.Spurs are a big club and I think they will only get bigger given the PL's economic power. They were really close to being really good if they could have stayed in CL. Schalke made a final four and given the resources available Spurs are a bigger club than they are.

As for Pardew, I think it is going to go badly for him. He has the Pellegrini incident already. To be honest I am not all that fussed about it either Jose but I think the FA will come down hard.

I think the unofficial BTF cross sports comparison for elite strikers is an elite basketball player but I have no idea. How many WAR is a guy like Suarez worth vs say a guy like Jelavic? The mind boggles. Suarez is crazy, but it is amazing what a team player he is on the pitch. He had a real chance at the single season scoring record but has been playing wide to benefit the team and Sturridge up until today. It was no fluke that he was back to scoring playing in a front two rather than wide in a three. LFC are basically two world class strikers, a good player in Coutinho, and a guy who has Zobristed his way to being indispensable in Henderson. It wasn't that long ago that some of us were doing a squad comparison of the fourth position contenders and LFC did not fare well. Basically since they added Coutinho and Sturridge they have been on fire even with Suarez related stupidity.

Textbook I think you are right there is a genuine split in how fans view success. I know there are a contingent of LFC fans that value trophies of any sort over a top four finish.
   986. Shooty Survived the Shutdown of '14! Posted: March 02, 2014 at 10:49 AM (#4664792)
Sunderland just 45 minutes away from complaining about being in Europe!
   987. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 02, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4664800)
Not so much anymore. I was worried this would be a 4-0 hammering but Sunderland have acquitted themselves quite well and really have carried play since falling behind. I'll be shocked if they get the goal back but this has been a great game.
   988. Spivey Posted: March 02, 2014 at 11:43 AM (#4664803)
Am I blind or is this game not on TV?
   989. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 02, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4664807)
Its on BeinSports. livesoccertv.com is pretty good at telling you what channel games are on.
   990. I am going to be Frank Posted: March 02, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4664829)
Townsend still shooting on sight.
   991. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 02, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4664835)
Holy #### Gabi.
   992. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 02, 2014 at 01:01 PM (#4664841)
My God, I've seen a unicorn! An incisive break from.Tottenham followed by some clinical finishing from Soldado. (And as I type, they almost give it back ... Oh, Spurs)
   993. The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: March 02, 2014 at 01:12 PM (#4664848)
Norwich putting in a performance that might get Houghton fired at half ...
   994. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 02, 2014 at 01:17 PM (#4664851)
Real have had absolutely no space this entire match. Classic Simeone performance so far.
   995. Langer Monk Posted: March 02, 2014 at 01:22 PM (#4664854)
Going to be a hell of a finish in Madrid.
   996. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 02, 2014 at 01:25 PM (#4664857)
It's been a hell of a game, really. Dramatic, controversial, involved...loving it so far and still twenty mins to go!
   997. Langer Monk Posted: March 02, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4664859)
I wish I hadn't missed the first half
   998. Juilin Sandar to Conkling Speedwell (Arjun) Posted: March 02, 2014 at 01:38 PM (#4664870)
Isco looking very lively since he came on.* Atletico withdrawing a bit more; they're probably exhausted, honestly, but Real have had a lot more possession in the last five than before.

*actually, all of Ancelotti's subs have paid off. Marcelo and Dani Carvajal are adding substantial width to the Madrid attack here.

EDIT: well, yeah, and now it pays off.
   999. Langer Monk Posted: March 02, 2014 at 01:44 PM (#4664874)
Isco's been everywhere.
   1000. JuanGone..except1game Posted: March 02, 2014 at 01:51 PM (#4664881)
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