Early Doors

Tactics Bored: ‘Fun’ teams continue to ruin football

Early Doors

View gallery

.

A weekend in a basement is never wasted. That is never more true than when the basement is stuffed to the gills with PCs, iPads and prototypes of Deep Blue all wired up to find the key algorithm to discovering who would win between West Germany of 1970 and Italy of 1992, if they were playing on a pitch that was inclined slightly upwards, with West Germany kicking uphill first.

But as well as theoretical football, there is also the matter of real football that annoyingly gets in the way. It can’t - for now - simply be predicted and released as a ticker at the start of the season once transfers and fixture lists are decided. The future cannot yet be predicted with 100 per cent reliably, so we have to retrospectively analyse what’s going on. Here are the key tactical trends from Saturday and Sunday, February 2014, the year of our Lord (Rinus Michels).

ARSENAL 4-1 SUNDERLAND - FUN IS OVERRATED

With all the goals and (urgh) fun (spits) in the football over the weekend, you might assume that it was tactically a very poor weekend. And you would be right to think so. There is a graph passed around the meet-ups of tactical and statistical bloggers which is the first collaborative piece of work the group ever did, and it demonstrates how football works for us:

View gallery

.

As you can see, goals are directly related to fun, and fun is inversely correlated with tactical quality of matches. So, the less fun you have, the better it is for the more intelligent, better informed, and generally cleverer tactics bloggers. We all know that the meek will inherit the earth, and who is meeker in public than a statistical analyst? Bow down to your superiors.

WON'T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF RESIDENT EUROSPORT FULHAM FAN?

Of course, it’s not just me who has an interest in tactics at Eurosport, there are the staff, who also have incisive, witty and counter-intuitive opinions when it comes to the mathematical stuff. Take Reda Maher, who has moved from talking about the geopolitical ramifications of the hooha in Ukraine to take a look at the change in Fulham’s performances from the start of the season under their three different managers, Martin Jol, Rene Meulensteen and Felix Magath.

If you have a look at the first diagram, you can see that Maher was quietly disappointed with the performances from Martin Jol, but he still respected the man and wanted things to come good:

View gallery

.

The second diagram demonstrates the perception of the tactics and football on offer from Rene Meulensteen, ex-Brondby legend. He managed little success at all, but there is a contrast between the general level of Reda’s appraisal of Fulham under Meulensteen (on the left) and the exciting draw at Old Trafford (on the right).

View gallery

.

Now, it’s only been one game, but Reda has also taken a look at the performance by his side against West Brom. It looked as if he might have steadied the ship in the first half, but the late conceding of a goal made Reda’s analysis rather more severe. You can see that, tactically speaking, Fulham are in real trouble if this is what they are doing to a man who is a top football expert and Fulham fan:

View gallery

.

Reda will provide more analysis in future blogs, should he have anything similarly perceptive to offer.

LIVERPOOL 4-3 SWANSEA CITY - DEFENSIVE WEAKNESS

Liverpool can be grateful to their attacking force, with Jordan Henderson and Daniel Sturridge performing especially well to rescue their club after a number of mishaps in defence on Saturday. It’s not apparent, on the face of it, why the back four of Liverpool have struggled for consistency this year compared to the rest of the team. All of the sides have had injuries and suspensions to deal with, but it is the defence that is noticeably weaker.

However, using high-tech influence maps, you can see that there is an ever so slight difference in the equipment the back four have been issued with compared to the rest of the side. If top-flight sport is decided by improving just the slightest of margins to give the edge, it might be worth noting the difference in how the defence line up:

View gallery

.

This formation doesn’t seem to be working for the Liverpool defence, so things will have to be rejigged for the run-in.

That concludes the tactics lesson for today. The answer to the situation described in the first paragraph, by the way, is West Germany 1-2 Italy. Obviously.

Alexander Netherton (@lxndrnthrtn)

View comments (34)
Write for Yahoo Sport
  • Bell steers England to victory, hosts take 2-1 Ashes lead

    Bell steers England to victory, hosts take 2-1 Ashes lead

    Ian Bell guided England to an eight-wicket victory over Australia in the third test at Edgbaston on Friday to put the hosts 2-1 up in the series with two matches to play. Bell (65 not out) and Joe Root, with an unbeaten 38, anchored the chase after England were set to 121 to win on the third day at Edgbaston where a dominant performance banished memories of a heavy defeat at Lord's. England lost Alastair Cook (7) and Adam Lyth (12) to set a few nerves on edge but Bell, dropped on 20 by Australia captain Michael Clarke, made his second 50 of the match to spark raucous celebrations after Root hit the winning runs. More »

    Reuters - 2 hours 23 minutes ago
  • Lambert leaves Liverpool to join West Brom

    Lambert leaves Liverpool to join West Brom

    Liverpool offload Rickie Lambert after just one unproductive season at Anfield More »

    Reuters - 1 hour 12 minutes ago
  • Serie A - Confusion as Stevan Jovetic joins Inter

    Serie A - Confusion as Stevan Jovetic joins Inter

    Inter Milan have signed Stevan Jovetic from Manchester City, although there were conflicting reports as to whether it was a loan or permanent switch. More »

    Eurosport - 2 hours 54 minutes ago
  • Can we ever trust Fifa again? Football writer Jonathan Wilson and Copa90's Eli Mengem investigate

    Can we ever trust Fifa again? Football writer Jonathan Wilson and Copa90's Eli Mengem investigate

    Can we ever trust Fifa again? Who replaces Sepp Blatter? These key questions and more are answered on this week's episode of The Rail, as Spencer is joined by football writer Jonathan Wilson and Copa90's Eli Mengem. More »

    Copa90 - 2 hours 50 minutes ago
  • No snow no problem as China's financial might lands 2022 Games

    No snow no problem as China's financial might lands 2022 Games

    The snow will be fake, but the very real financial muscle China boasts proved decisive on Friday when Beijing won the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. Games officials meeting in Kuala Lumpur voted for the Chinese capital over the lure of a winter wonderland offering from Kazakhstan's Almaty, in a clear sign that the International Olympic Committee is craving solidity and security after a series of problems and headaches. While Rio scrambles to make up lost time in its building for the 2016 Olympics, and Tokyo is embroiled in a stadium drama the allure of a megacity with a cast-iron financial guarantee proved irresistible. More »

    Reuters - 4 hours ago