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Newcastle United, Statistics and ‘Big’ Sam

8 years ago

I was intrigued to hear an interview with Villas Boas before the recent game against West Ham when he was talking about Pro Zone and indirectly, the style of play that Sam Allardyce employs.

I have always had a sneaky liking for young Andre (put in an impossible position with the odious John Terry at Chelsea) and think he talks a lot of sense. He may mumble a bit but he is a thinker about the game, loves the passion of the English game and certainly wants to get his team playing in the right way.

He said that using Pro Zone and other statistics was really of only limited use when preparing a team for a game. Statistics may not lie but can be very misleading – 15 shots may sound good but if they all flew wildly over the bar then it is irrelevant.

Similarly, 65% possession sounds good, but if all it involves is passing between centre-backs and the keeper, this is equally irrelevant. As is ‘territory’ when the ball is lumped into the box so that the defending team simply regain possession (part of the Pro Zone theory) or, I guess, if the Toon happened to have 20 corners in a game.

No, what he actually said was that getting into players heads was what is most important to winning matches, having players with a positive attitude and believing that they can do things and not frightened of trying things that do not work.

Gareth Bale is a classic example of that and clearly he has a great relationship with his manager as well. I reckon Pardew is proving quite good as well, certainly coping so far with Ben Arfa suggests it.

However, Villas Boas also stated you need good players, or bloody good players as Joe Harvey (substitute Keegan in the 90s) used to say, when describing his team of the 70s, Malcolm Macdonald ‘bloody good player’, Terry Hibbitt ‘bloody good player’ , John Tudor ‘bloody good player’ , Iam McFaul ‘bloody good player’ and so on.

Fill your team with bloody good players and get into their heads that this is what they and the team are and anything becomes possible, whether you have spent a tedious 2 hours looking at a computer printout of percentages or not!

Sam, your tactics and style are still a disgrace to English football and I hope they take West Ham down.

Jonnie runs a walking and guiding company in the north of England. Visit his excellent website at Where2walk to find out more


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