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Football Thread 2019/2020

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Someone just pointed this out too:

 

Ref: Anthony Taylor (born 20 October 1978) is an English professional football referee from Manchester.

VAR: Chris Kavanagh is an English professional football referee who officiates primarily in the Premier League and is from Manchester, England.

 

 

 

 

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38 minutes ago, Stigweard said:

Awwww bless the United fans giving it the big one. Finally crawled out their corner, only took them 2/3rds of the season :lol:

 

We were out of our corner after the first game of the season too. Also something something about it only taking Liverpool fans 30 years to crawl out of theirs.

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29 minutes ago, spork said:

 

We were out of our corner after the first game of the season too. Also something something about it only taking Liverpool fans 30 years to crawl out of theirs.

 

They are going to be unbearable mate. 

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1 hour ago, Revival said:

Someone just pointed this out too:

 

Ref: Anthony Taylor (born 20 October 1978) is an English professional football referee from Manchester.

VAR: Chris Kavanagh is an English professional football referee who officiates primarily in the Premier League and is from Manchester, England.

 

 

 

 

So definitely not Man Utd fans then?

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10 minutes ago, bradigor said:

 

They are going to be unbearable mate. 

 

We know. 

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3 hours ago, bradigor said:

 

They are going to be unbearable mate. 


Nah, I find half of United’s fans are still unbearable, giving it large over their team’s success, mocking their far inferior city rivals, just that they seem to be wearing sky blue these days. 

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"Maguire should have been sent off".  Well, given some of the challenges we have seen let go so far (Che Adams for example), not really.

"That was never a foul on Shaw." It was never a foul on Jonny Evans but that got pulled back.

"It's ridiculous that Giroud was offside" Ask Villa, Wolves and many other fans who have had goals pulled back for toenails being offside so far this year.

 

Now, I wouldn't want to say that the excessively loud bleating seems to be because the big clubs are being treated the same as the small clubs.  Oh no.

 

(And besides, I'm not convinced the Maguire was a red.  On the balance of probabilities, I would say he probably meant it but even after several viewings I dont think it is a howler of a mistake from the officials.)

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1 hour ago, Plissken said:

Now, I wouldn't want to say that the excessively loud bleating seems to be because the big clubs are being treated the same as the small clubs.  Oh no.

 

We're less than a page from the stat showing Burnley have been net winners from VAR and Chelsea net losers even before this match so that doesn't really scan.

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I actually don't really care who is getting the short term statistical benefit from VAR calls, I just hate what it's doing to matches.

 

You sit in a stadium when a goal goes in then frantically scan round the pitch looking for defenders lying on the floor waving an arm claiming a push, the ref putting his hand to his ear to hear from VAR HQ that the person who crossed it may have been 2mm offside in the build up etc Its utterly ruinous to the experience of watching a game and enjoying a goal

 

I thought though I'd hate it less on TV when not invested in who wins or loses but I don't (unless its a funny one like Son finally getting his due).

 

When it rights a massive wrong, like Aubamyang against Utd earlier in the year which was flagged off when he was a yard on its acceptable (not saying this just cos its Arsenal, it came to mind as righting a big official error), its the petty nit picky ones that really grate, especially on offsides or defender diving. 

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good article on the Athletic about tactical fouling - City & Arsenal are the worst, biggest single game offenders are Spurs away at Palace this season and Liverpool & Burnley are angels.

 

Spoiler

If you have watched Manchester City play under Pep Guardiola you will be familiar with the process. City attack in numbers: the centre-backs on the half-way line, both full-backs pushed up, the midfield dominating possession, the front three in constant motion whether coming short for the ball or darting in behind. If City have the ball, they have a good chance of scoring. But if they lose it, well, you know what is coming next.

Of course, City are desperate to win the ball back quickly and go straight into the press. “You defend the way you attack, not the other way round,” as the top coaches say.

But if that press fails, the opposition have a huge open space to break into, with just two or three stranded defenders in their way. In that instant, the odds have swung in their favour and City know they are at risk. And that is when the tactical foul is deployed. A City player ends the attack, giving themselves those crucial few seconds to run back and re-arrange themselves behind the ball. And the chance of City conceding drops.

Guardiola has repeatedly denied that this is City’s official policy and insisted that he would never tell players to foul. But that claim is undermined by the footage in Amazon’s All or Nothing documentary showing Mikel Arteta, then Guardiola’s assistant, instructing players to do exactly that before a game. “David (Silva), Kevin (De Bruyne), Gundo (Ilkay Gundogan), make fouls,” Arteta says. “If there is a transition, make a foul. If you can do it, better than Gundo, better than the defenders.”

The implication of that last point is clear. If someone is going to get booked for the foul, it would be better being an attacking player (Silva or De Bruyne) rather than Gundogan or the back four. In Guardiola’s system, everything, even the fouling, is meticulously planned and apportioned.

That clip vindicated the sense that many opposition managers had about City: that the coaching staff told the players to foul under precisely these circumstances.

This might all sound like singling City out, the price they have paid for opening up their dressing room to the Amazon cameras. Other Premier League clubs would surely have some embarrassing secrets revealed by a similar process. But the data makes clear that City are the most consistent offenders when it comes to illegally stopping opposition attacks. Opta have been gathering information on this since the 2017-18 season, measuring the number of opposition turnovers each team faces every Premier League season and the number of those turnovers that end in a foul. The key number, effectively the rate of tactical fouling, is the percentage relationship between the two.

Manchester City were responsible for the second and third highest rates that Opta have on record. So far in 2019-20 City have committed 117 fouls to stop 1540 opposition turnovers, a rate of 7.6 per cent. In 2017-18, the season in the Amazon documentary, City committed 180 fouls to stop 2587 opposition turnovers, a rate of 6.96 per cent. The only club to record a higher rate is Arsenal this season, with 139 fouls from 1695 opposition turnovers, a rate of 8.2 per cent. And we know who took over as their new manager in December.

Why would City and Arsenal, two teams who try to play dominant football, be the worst offenders? Just last month Guardiola tried to use City’s unprecedented possession dominance as an alibi. “We have about 62 per cent average of the ball and you cannot make fouls when you have the ball,” he said. “Normally the guy that fouls is the guy that doesn’t have the ball.”

But an alternative view is that Guardiola’s aggressive expansive style makes tactical fouls all the more necessary. If you have every outfield player in the opposition half, engaged in the game, then those moments when you do lose the ball are especially dangerous. In theory, the more attacking a team is in possession, the more vulnerable they are on the break and the more they need to foul to save themselves.

Break the data down by specific matches and the same story shines through. The highest tactical foul rate measured in one game was Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham beating counter-attacking Crystal Palace 4-0 in September 2019. Of Palace’s 61 turnovers, 12 ended in fouls, a rate of 19.67 per cent. The third and fourth highest rates for any given game, unsurprisingly, belonged to Manchester City — in their 3-2 defeat to Manchester United at home in April 2018 (17.74 per cent) and their 6-0 win over Chelsea in February 2019 (17.65 per cent). It suggests that against better opposition, the imperative to foul tactically is even stronger.

Liverpool, however, might argue differently. This season they are the most dominant team in English football history, with 73 points from a possible 75. And yet this season’s side is also the most innocent team on record when it comes to tactical fouls: just 74 of 1911 opposition turnovers have ended in fouls, a rate of just 3.87 per cent. This might be because they can easily win the ball back legally, having conceded fewer fouls than anyone else in the league this season. Or it might be that Virgil van Dijk can snuff out counters by himself, and can handle far more exposure than, say, Nicolas Otamendi.

Ultimately, though, the trend holds. If you don’t play Guardiola football, then you don’t need to tactically foul. The fourth and fifth lowest tactical foul rates recorded by Opta are both from Burnley (4.5 per cent from 2018-19 and 4.41 per cent from 2017-18). Sean Dyche’s muscular 4-4-2 is the ideological polar opposite to Guardiola’s system and, while they are a physically aggressive side, they barely show up on this metric. When your back four are deep and well-protected, you do not need to tactically foul to save yourself. Old-fashioned fouls are enough for some.

This is just another mark — like the decline in offsides — of how football at the top end is changing faster than anyone realises. The traditional back-and-forth game, balls over the top, turn the opposition, is being replaced by something more planned. In many Premier League games now, the pattern is the same. One team dominates possession, the other sits back and plays on the break. If the dominant team scores a goal, they can earn the right to play on the break too. In the mid-2000s it would almost never happen that one team would touch 70 per cent possession in a Premier League game. But in 2017-18 it happened 63 times, and last season 67 times — that’s 17 per cent of the games played. And in a possession and counter-attack game, the tactical foul is invaluable.

One Premier League coach explains that it is a function of City’s high pressing game. “I think it is a consequence of the early press,” he says. “You will make a foul. When a number of players in attacking positions high on the pitch lose the ball, and they react, then the risk of making a foul is higher. Especially because these are attacking players doing a defensive action. But you need to consider which phase of action the foul is. Is it Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling or Bernardo Silva, the first line of pressure? Or is it Fernandinho and the midfield? That is the second phase.”

The more that top teams score with quick transitions, winning the ball back high up the pitch and heading for goal, the more they will foul, whether by over-enthusiasm in the first phase or by defensive necessity in the second. Guardiola’s City, Klopp’s Liverpool and Pochettino’s Tottenham have had plenty of success with this move.

“More goals by top teams come from regaining the ball in the opposition half and quick transitions,” the coach continues. “Not too many goals are on long, long, long possessions. Long possessions allow you to force the opponent to move across the pitch, to concede fouls and give away set pieces. Some of those end up in a goal. But normally, when the opponent gets the ball back, and you regain the ball and attack them, you score. That’s why it’s important to play in the opposition half.”

Another Premier League coach points to the primacy of the counter-attack, and says the Big Six are not the only sides trying to stop themselves from being caught out. “Even the smaller teams are very aware not to get counter-attacked against,” says the coach. “And many of the big teams set up to counter-attack from their own defensive set plays. So many goals come from set plays, crosses or transitions, as in counter-attacks.”

If there is an alternative view it comes from another coach with years of Premier League experience: Rafa Benitez. For Benitez, there is no real rise in the tactical foul, merely a rise in our awareness of it. “It was very common in the past, particularly with a lot of South American or Latin teams,” Benitez tells The Athletic. “They had players with an understanding of the game; they know when a counter-attack is so dangerous that all they can do is foul. It is just that we notice it more now because there is far more television coverage. It was very common in the past. When there was a counter-attack, and you knew you were in a bad position, you had to make a foul.”

Benitez makes another point that should be remembered by anyone calling for harsher punishments for this particular type of foul: that the distinction between a modern “tactical foul” and a conventional foul is not quite as clear as we might think. “We don’t say it’s a tactical foul when a player is fouled on the edge of the box,” he says. “Why not? Because when a team is defending and they have to do the foul, but we don’t say it’s ‘tactical’, even though they can get past you and be in front of the keeper. But that’s tactical too. It is just that when it happens in open space, you can see it’s tactical, very clearly. If you’re playing against (Lionel) Messi, and he’s passing you and you have to make a foul — because otherwise he will be in front of the keeper — that’s a tactical foul as well. But nobody would call it that, because there are too many bodies around. It’s nothing new.”

That gets to the heart of the problem with policing these fouls. The Laws of the Game state that any foul that “interferes with or stops a promising attack” should be met with a yellow card for unsporting conduct, but not all of them are as clear and obvious as we might like. Telling a cynical, purposeful “tactical foul” from a good old-fashioned mistimed tackle is difficult, while asking referees to judge on subjective matters of intent creates more problems than it solves. Professional players are also able to disguise their true intentions more often than not. “How do you draw the line?” says one recently-retired Premier League defender. “You could put me on the pitch tomorrow, and I could make a ‘tactical foul’ look like a mistimed tackle. Even if I knew I was not going to get the ball, it is easy to make it look like it was mistimed.”

For as long as players can get away with these fouls without being booked on the spot, they will continue to do them. And there is a widely-held view in the game that there is little point in condemning players and teams from taking advantage of this current laxness. It is down to the referees to police the game, not the players themselves, and of course players will do as much as they can get away with to protect their own goal.

One leading coach, when asked by The Athletic, said it was no more frustrating than when facing a team who park the bus. “At the end of the day, it’s down to the referee,” he said. “Normally the teams that sit deep, play nasty, slow down the game are the teams that then complain about tactical fouls. They are using the laws of football to their benefit. It’s part of the game. People shouldn’t complain.”

 

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58 minutes ago, Dudley said:

 

We're less than a page from the stat showing Burnley have been net winners from VAR and Chelsea net losers even before this match so that doesn't really scan.


I know we've been net winners but my point is that all the incidents have previous precedent with the same outcome, so what could possibly have changed. If Girouds goal had been given where Grealish vs Burnley (and others) had not then there would be a problem.

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I'd have had us on higher on the tactical foul chart but maybe that is because ours are much more noticeable. Westwood doesn't exactly hide it and usually gets a booking.

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45 minutes ago, Plissken said:

I'd have had us on higher on the tactical foul chart but maybe that is because ours are much more noticeable. Westwood doesn't exactly hide it and usually gets a booking.

 

The article is about a specific type of tactical foul, those committed when the ball is turned over when the attacking team have over committed in attack. You know, the kind City do 400 times a match. As the author points out, Burnley don't really do that kind of foul because they don't tend to over commit going forward, preferring to maintain a basic defensive shape even when attacking. Burnley's fouling seems to me (and you'd obviously have a much better informed view on this) to be more about physical intimidation or winding up the opposition. 

 

It's very surprising, and pretty impressive, that Liverpool play the way they do without constantly resorting to tactical fouls. I also wonder if Arsenal's appearance so high on the list has something to do with them just not being very good at tackling. 

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There is probably no single reason behind the tactical fouling stats - Liverpool play out wide a lot with big crossfield switches of play over the middle of the park, they probably don't turn the ball over much in the middle where I'd guess a lot of these type of fouls occur.

 

Arsenal on the other hand were obsessed under Emery with inviting pressure by playing out from the back badly, with little width, often resulting in Xhaka or Guendouzi grabbing somebody by the shoulder to stop them having given the ball away. I'm not sure it was baked into the Arsenal gameplan by Emery in the same way Pep designed it at City, theirs was planned, ours was by being crap.

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2 hours ago, Gotters said:

I actually don't really care who is getting the short term statistical benefit from VAR calls, I just hate what it's doing to matches.

 

You sit in a stadium when a goal goes in then frantically scan round the pitch looking for defenders lying on the floor waving an arm claiming a push, the ref putting his hand to his ear to hear from VAR HQ that the person who crossed it may have been 2mm offside in the build up etc Its utterly ruinous to the experience of watching a game and enjoying a goal

 

Yeah, and part of that is they insist on checking every little thing.

 

I guess you don't have that issue in Rugby because it's fairly obvious there what's going to need to be checked when it happens.

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Perhaps the reason for Liverpool's low stat is that they prefer a "chaotic" end to end game to stretch the play and aren't afraid to hit a long ball - sorry, precise 35 yard pass - to quickly turn defence into attack. Whereas City play very high up the pitch and rely on patient short passing and seek to control the game, open play suits Liverpool's style and speed.

 

And Arsenal have a high count because Guendouzi is shit and keeps getting caught out positionally and physically.

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One of the best feelings is when your team score and everyone around you, in unison leaps up in elation and you hear the instant roar of the crowd. VAR is removing that and it's shit. It's taking the best part of attending a game away. If you're paying upwards of £50 to watch a game, people are going to start reconsidering if they want to do that 20+ times a season.

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2 hours ago, Dudley said:

 

Yeah, and part of that is they insist on checking every little thing.

 

I guess you don't have that issue in Rugby because it's fairly obvious there what's going to need to be checked when it happens.

 

I think Rugby lacks the problem Football is having because it has never been driven, by managers, fans or otherwise to analyse things like offside to the mm. Offside is simply eyeballed in Rugby, not a stupid fucking overlay to be seen. I think that is partly because Rugby, maybe, tries to rule by the spirit of the laws rather than the exact definition which is something I think Football has long forgotten. 

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Liverpool have less tactical fouls because of the cheat code that is Virgil Van Djik.

 

Interestingly - or at least, I find the science at the top end of sport interesting - the club has also employed Tim Waskett, an astrophysicist (joke about finding space here), to aid the club's data team in how matches and the pitch is controlled, so the team's shape is uniformly better positioned to win back possession or force the opposition into an error that concedes possession.

 

But it's all just luck really. And VAR wHaT wiNs tHem mAtCHeS. And doping, apparently.

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10 hours ago, Plissken said:

 

 

(And besides, I'm not convinced the Maguire was a red.  On the balance of probabilities, I would say he probably meant it but even after several viewings I dont think it is a howler of a mistake from the officials.)

Maguire gave Batshuayi a kick in the dick. Never mind a red card, that should be an automatic 15 match suspension.

 

If he meant it, 26 matches. 

 

 

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7 hours ago, The Fox said:

 

Mane, easily.

 

On two seasons yes. Let me know when Mane's played 20. Giggs didn't have a bad season in two decades. 

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You cannot compare the two. Giggs was a linchpin of a Man Utd side for 20 years and had the same manager for most of that. Mane has made his through the ranks playing for different managers to get to the top of his game. I'd still take Mane over Giggs if offered them both at their peak but that's probably because Mane's peak is happening now whereas Giggs is a distant memory. 

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Wasn't it comparing the 98/99 United team and 2019/20 Liverpool team? Not thier actual careers. 

 

Giggs - 10 goals 4 assists across all competitions

Mane - 16 goals 11 assists across all competitions

 

So Mane is the better of the two there and arguably more important to his team than Giggs was for the 98/99 United. 

 

*to date with a third of a season to go. 

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