FAO Big Mick McCarthy

Found a xmas jumper for you

'Member?

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@Big_Mick_McCarthy - is a sub to The Athletic worth it? They seem to have a decent discount on it at the moment but not sure if it covers all of it or just some of it.

What do you consider value? What are you looking to get back.

I read around 30 articles a week on average on it. 10 are high quality, 10 are average and 10 are pure shit. Mike Lombardi, Amy Trask, the McGinn files and Richard Dietrechs nfl media column are all excellent while Chris Burke who is their beat writer for the Lions is also excellent.

There is also plenty of shite on it too but I am happy to pay the sub for Chris Burke’s lions articles alone

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They are nearly giving it away this week. Not a great sign. Although I suppose you are signed up then and you forget about it

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I got on with the offer — a couple of euro a month , you’re actually losing money by not taking the deal.

Just bought it for £1.69 a month.

You’ll have as much NFL knowledge as @Chucks_Nwoko in a week.

I have that already

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:eek:

Lot of American sports if you are interested in that. The odd decent football article.

Can you do your thing mate

A few years ago, there was one of those radio debates between a football statistician and an ex-footballer.

These conversations usually feature a predictable ending: the statistician comes up with a figure which suggests something that goes against the consensus and the ex-footballer laughs him out of the studio, rubbishing the idea that the beautiful game can be solved by spreadsheets and algorithms.

On this occasion things were slightly different.

Opta’s Duncan Alexander produced an array of intriguing numbers, and former Liverpool midfielder Ray Houghton seemed genuinely interested.

Houghton’s only suggestion was a part of the game analysts hadn’t found a metric for. “The one thing you don’t yet have,” he said, “Is something that shows the importance of stopping running. The best players know when to stand still.”

And it was — at least at the time — a decent point. This was 2013, when Jurgen Klopp was promising his Borussia Dortmund side an extra day off if they collectively managed to surpass a specific total for ‘distance covered’, which seems remarkably primitive seven years on. In the analytics community, recent years have been about marrying ‘on-ball’ data and ‘tracking data’, attempting to provide more spatial information, working out which players know how to find pockets of space and which players’ runs are the catalyst for others’ movement.

This kind of thing feels particularly relevant when you watch the performances of Manchester United’s new star midfielder, Bruno Fernandes.

Few doubted he was a good signing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side, but his immediate impact has been hugely impressive. Fernandes isn’t just scoring goals and providing assists, he’s starting the press, ordering other players into position and even winding up Pep Guardiola.

The WhoScored website, which uses Opta data, suggests Fernandes’ statistically calculated strengths are — deep breath — ‘through balls’, ‘key passes’, ‘long shots’, ‘taking set-pieces’, ‘direct free-kicks’, ‘dribbling’, ‘passing’, ‘defensive contribution’ and ‘tackling’. But they can’t yet explain what we might consider the ‘Houghton stat’: Fernandes is also very good at knowing when to stand still, on and off the ball.

Take this example, from the 3-0 victory over Derby County in the FA Cup last week. Fernandes has drifted out to the left flank, and has received a forward pass from left-back Luke Shaw. As he receives possession, Fernandes sticks out his right arm, beckoning Shaw to make an overlapping run.

After Shaw responds by steaming forward down the outside, Fernandes waits for his run in the most ostentatious way — he stops dead, traps the ball with his right foot and simply waits. And then waits some more.

In the end, he waits so long that Fernandes doesn’t simply slip Shaw in down the outside, he ends up playing a pass inside the opposition right-back and turning it into a through-ball. Shaw cuts inside and has a decent effort saved by Kelle Roos.

In the Europa League second leg against Bruges a week earlier, there’s a slightly different situation.

Here, Fernandes isn’t technically standing still, but he’s delaying the killer pass. Receiving the ball in an inside-left position, he initially looks set to dink the ball towards the far post, where Juan Mata has made a run. Mata set off too soon, however, and therefore Fernandes realises he has strayed offside, and checks back.

Fernandes then has a chance to stand the ball up to the far post with his left foot. Maybe he realised a defender was in the way, maybe he wasn’t so confident with his left foot, or maybe he realised Mata wasn’t in the right position. But Fernandes made the same decision again, cutting back onto his right side.

And now, finally, Fernandes does play the ball. He’s waited for four seconds — not a huge amount of time, but long enough that Mata is making his second run of the same move. The ball is well-weighted, Mata squares the ball across the six-yard box and Odion Ighalo taps in a goal on his first start for the club.

In the second half, there was a different example of Fernandes stopping. In an inside-right position, he initially looks to make a run beyond the Bruges defence, seemingly hoping for a dink over the top from Scott McTominay.

But this turns out to be a mere dummy run and Fernandes suddenly stops dead, even retreating slightly. His opponent is now a little too deep and Fernandes has a couple of yards away from him.

When the pass does come, Fernandes responds with a brilliant touch, flicking it around the corner for Ighalo with the outside of his right foot while spinning past his marker and making another run in behind.

Fernandes has made a lot of runs like that.

One of them brought United’s opener in the home victory over Watford. Starting wide on the left, Fernandes initially sprinted in anticipation of receiving a direct forward pass from Fred.

But Fred instead passed towards Daniel James, located between Fernandes and himself. And, although simple, Fernandes’ slowing of his run here works very well, keeping him onside as he awaits the ball from James.

And then comes the second acceleration, as James slips the ball through the defence. Fernandes is now at top speed again, at precisely the moment he breaks through. As he collects the ball, Ben Foster rushes out and brings him down to concede a penalty.

And from the penalty, of course, Fernandes was able to demonstrate another element of him ‘stopping’, with his trademark ‘hop’ penalty. Foster fell for the trick and dived a little early, allowing him to roll the ball home.

Bruges goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was also deceived by this approach…

…and it’s also worth pointing out that Fernandes’ assist for Anthony Martial’s opener against Manchester City was from a standing position; not quite having stopped — as it was a free kick — but nevertheless while Fernandes was standing still. City appeared surprised by the sudden dink, which was perfectly flighted over their defence.

This isn’t, of course, to say that this is all Fernandes is capable of — in terms of ‘sprints’ and ‘distance covered’, the 25-year-old Portugal international is covering as much ground as you’d expect from an attack-minded midfielder.

Fernandes’ ability to stop running, pause and take a second to consider his options, however, is perhaps the thing that marks him out as a truly top-class midfielder.

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Didn’t they offer 3 months free the other day?

Cheers mate. I thought it was going to be a more interesting article by the opening paragraph. I fucking hate articles that have a load of static pictures with drawings on them

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Presume you have to give them your CC details so they can get you when it rolls off the three months?

Correct.

They were all the rage here a couple of years back, goofball anorak types trying to get one up on each other proving how tactically astute and sophisticated they were by drawing a few arrows and circles around a football. Christ that was along year

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I’ll stick with @Big_Mick_McCarthy posting up the articles here.

If it’s not broke etc

Jesus, @Loko_Cove was cheated out of a few Ballon D’ors so…

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