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Cash For Corners?

8 years ago
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Had a few thoughts about the set-piece issues that have affected the team this year. Not wishing to tread over old ground but to briefly summarise:

The manager expressed a desire to bring in a CB in the summer who is an authoritative header of the ball and who could chip in with goals. Who knows, maybe the purse-strings will be loosened to strengthen in this crucial area in January; to have quality cover for injuries, if nothing else.

AP also went on record in the summer to say that, from pre-season and going forward, there would be a big focus on set plays, with a view to yielding more goals. We’re well aware of the sides in the league who make the most of the aerial ball into the box. I usually try and zone Martin Tyler out, but he did raise a point about Norwich on Sunday; nearly 1/3 of their goals since being promoted back into the Premiership have been headers. Ok, they’re not all corners, but that still implies accurate delivery to the strikers.

Having been in the stands for the Villa and Man Utd games, and seeing the lads on TV this year, it’s painful to see such dreadful deliveries time and again. Not least our one ace in the hole, a diagonal to Williamson/S.Taylor to head back across the 6-yard area to a teammate; baffling. I would still advocate trying to achieve a quality, in-swinging delivery or one floated in with some pace from a corner. Short corners only really work for Barcelona in my view.

Squad turnover (Barton, Nolan, Carroll) while progressing the team as a more persistent threat from open play, has also taken some away from us delivery-wise. How many times in 2010-11 was it Barton to Carroll, with Nolan on his toes and alive, poking in any scraps?

Final point to summarise: there has been a fairly radical overhauling of the wage structure at the club now that Mike Ashley et al have gotten a handle on the finances. I vaguely recall comments coming out (from Alan Pardew I think?) about the abolition/curtailing of goal bonuses and performance-based bonuses for our forwards and new signings.

Assuming that is true, I’m wonder whether reverting back to the gravy-train days is worth a shot; within our financial means, of course. I wonder whether Cabaye/Ben Arfa are on an assist bonus for a delivery leading to a goal, and whether the scorer from a dead-ball is getting a bonus per goal.

In fact, in the interests of keeping the fantastic team spirit we have, don’t make it so individual. From what was mentioned before, AP was targeting a CB to chip in with 8-10 goals a season. An extra 8-10 goals a season equates to, at least, Newcastle finishing one place higher than they otherwise would have. It’s common knowledge that a place higher is an extra £500k to the club. Take 90% of it and put into the club. Set aside the remaining £50k for a set-piece bonus, say £5k a goal. So a corner from HBA, flicked on by Shola and finished by Colo, goal pie! All 3 guys share equally in the £5k.

Granted, it’s not an American Football-size bonus, but in my view it is enough to focus the mind of a Premiership millionaire, without being excessive. Now departed, but Danny Guthrie would have been chomping at the bit at a bonus scheme like that; he could treble his wages for goodness sake!

Nothing focuses the mind like the instant nature of a pay bonus. The squad are obviously working very hard on all aspects of play in training. But it’s like anything related to homework; hard work does get mundane, and I’m sure team set-piece practice is a grind.

It is possible that the players and coaches are over-thinking things and over-prescribing things, attempting to rigidly apply training ground moves into the final third of a Premier League pitch. Correct positioning is of course important, but a degree of improvisation is needed to react first and stab a goal home. I for one would be bursting myself to get on the end of a cross if I was in the shirt (assuming it clears the first man, of course!).

Worth a punt?

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