By Eric Beard
When only one adjective can be used to describe something, the word “smart” naturally catches us off-guard and makes us a little bit skeptical. Maybe that’s because when it comes to proving itself on an intellectual level, the human race often lets us down. Let’s be honest, for every rocket scientist, there are 99 Sepp Blatters. Even those odds are hugely optimistic. Maybe I’m not in the position to set odds on human capabilities, but regardless, rocket scientists exist, and we’re on Mars. That’s the important thing. There is intelligent life around us, even if we don’t encounter it on a daily basis. Now, it’s equally important to realize that findings on Mars might not directly influence your life for a while. (That’s not to presume the AFR audience isn’t filled with rocket scientists, but I’m comfortable with the assumption.)
While we - as humans - gaze upon the Curiosity rover on Mars with curiosity, in recent weeks there has also been a new development sparking curiosity for us - as football fans. You’ve seen it advertised during every single match over the past month, filling your eyes with numbers and your ears with dubstep. It’s called Smart Soccer, and it could alter the way we see the beautiful game. …. Okay, allow me to take a few small steps backwards from that giant leap of a statement.
As a natural cynic when it comes to things that declare smartness, let’s start with two questions that are probably on your mind.
- Will I actually be able to use this, whatever it is?
- Why would I (or anyone) want complex numbers being thrown at me (or them) when watching football?
Actually, the answers to your questions are remarkably blunt. No, you will not be able to use Smart Soccer technology to its fullest. And the complex numbers and statistics aren’t primarily for you (the fan). Not what you were looking to hear? Well, let me elaborate.
The thought process is actually quite clear: to enhance the sport, tools must be given to those who create the spectacle. Smart Soccer is indirectly for fans, but only in the sense that the goal of the technology is to enhance the understanding of players’ strengths and weaknesses for both a manager and a professional footballer’s benefits.
Are you with me? Oh, you’ve another question? Ah, good one. No, this will not fade into irrelevancy. Beyond Major League Soccer’s commitment to the technology for its 2013 season, some of the world’s best players and coaches (think of the best teams adidas is partnered with) can’t wait to use the newfound technology. Now that we’ve established that Smart Soccer isn’t a superfluous ploy, but rather a potential competitive advantage, let’s delve a little deeper…
After completing the signing of French international Olivier Giroud, Mr Wenger may be preempting life without RVP next season. With a host of top European clubs vying for the Flying Dutchmen’s signature Arsenal could be without their talisman goal scorer. If Arsenal can persuade Van Persie to commit his future to the Gunners, Arsene has found his game changer in Giroud. Giroud is known in france for his physical presence and punishing heading ability something they have lacked since the departure of Togolese front man Emmanuel Adebayor.
Despite the purchase of Per Mertesacker last season, the Gunners still need reinforcement at the back, even with the reemergence of Koscielny towards the tail end of the campaign. Arsene will need to purchase a strong right full back, not to replace the dreadlocked Sagna necessarily, but to give him competition and cover throughout the season. Another centre half wouldn’t go amiss if they can look to offload Sebastien Squillaci.
Arsenal’s strongest area is by far central midfield, when fully fit the gunners surely have the highest competition ratio in the league. With Wengers midfield three composition, any random concoction of players would still compete against top clubs. With holding players Song, Diaby and Wilshire all able to play in the Box-to-Box and CAM categories with Rosicky, Arteta, Ramsey and Alex O-C Arsenal have the potential to be a real force. However they do lack the ‘Wise Owl’ gliding around the central plains, just giving and receiving (The Pirlo Effect).
Chamakh looks as though his bags are packed and will be leaving on the preverbal ‘Jetplane’ with the arrival of Giroud, who despite his impressive start fell into obscurity at the north London club.
The transfer window has opened, the rumor mills are turning and each club is yearning to sign the major piece of the puzzle. Some have already sign sealed and delivered whilst others are playing catch up…
Over the next few months, I will be briefly analysing what each club should be trying solve before the window closes on August 31st. Whilst also keeping a close eye on developments around the world.
Now that the Euro 2012 is over, its back to business as usual. Players In, Players Out, Change of Managers all will be discussed in the build up to the new Barclays Premier League Season. To this add topics evolving in the world of football.
[Posted by MG]
This week, the hopes and dreams of a nation are pinned onto one list. With Mr Hodgson imminently releasing the names of those charged to fulfil those massive expectations. Football fans across the country are on tenterhooks waiting for his announcement, Wednesday. Tabloids and Blogs are rife with rumours of who will go, who’ll be left out and surprise inclusions.Speculation suggests that Hodgson will employ a selection process relying heavily upon statistical analysis, taking individuals whose performance stats reflect their surprise inclusion. The mixing bowl contains the likes of Steven Caulker, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlin and Grant Holt.
In the build up to the Euro 2012 squad release, journalists; pundits; experts and men inpubs around Britain debate their personal squad selections, providing reasons why they left Wayne out or allowed Ferdinand on the plane. Everyone following the team willhave his or her own team in mind, but the question is who will Roy choose?
Here is the squad I would take to the Euros if I were the FA’s main man and why.
You can have the top stars to bring the attention, you can have the best stadium, you can have the best facilities, you can have the most beautiful project in terms of marketing and all this kind of thing. But if you don’t win… All the work these people are doing is forgotten. —
- Jose Mourinho (2004)
Manchester City will need to remind themselves of this before Kick Off Tomorrow.
Moneyball Theory will not work when applied to 'The Beautiful Game' -
written by Joe Hall
The unfortunate Owen Hargreaves has spent, what should be his career prime, sidelined through repetitive injuries. Since the former Bayern and England star signed for Manchester United in 2007 he has been plagued with injury. Appearing only on five league occasions since 2008 including one for rivals Manchester City this season.
After being released last season by Manchester United, Hargreaves made a series of videos promoting his fitness and commitment to finding another club