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A win for Tommy Semmy and his Wanderers – NRFL Prem Rd 3 Western Springs vs Hamilton Wanderers 2:3

WES vs HAM 1

A clear cut case of better KPIs win the match. Springs slight Presence advantage only happened in stoppage time.

Context:

Sin bin for Western Springs player with 12 minutes (regular time) to go and 1:3 down.

WES vs HAM GK

Very solid effort from both keepers with Ruben Parker’s workload being much higher, though.

Cory Townsend was much improved compared to Rd 1 (against Bay Olympic).

All 5 goals were essentially impossible to save.

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Context – context- context! NRFL Prem Rd 2: Central United vs North Shore United 2:1

CEN vs NSU

So much for “numbers only”!

It is somewhat ironic for me – of all people – to point this out … but … numbers CAN be deceiving!

That is the case when it is not known HOW the numbers came about.

In principle – they do NOT lie. The teams’ KPIs are what they are and the team with the better KPIs “should” win.

That is exactly what the table above suggests, isn’t it?!

Central was clearly the stronger team and therefore they deservedly won this match, didn’t they?!

Well … I leave it to Kiwitea Street’s famous number one fan “bucket man” to comment.

After the match he – very vocally – wondered if the ingesting of intoxicating – maybe even illicitly so -substances played a part in the decision- making process in regard to the presentation of coloured pieces of card board and the sounding of a whistling instrument?

These were not his exact words but you get the idea.

That – and the disgruntled mumbling of the visitors’ supporters on their way out – suggests that – for the umpteenth time observed by me over the past few years – the outcome of a match was not necessarily decided by the two teams’ actual football prowess but by extraneous factors, instead.

I want to mentioned that I never had, have, nor ever will have a personal affiliation with either one of these two teams! You cannot get much more neutral than this. If anything, the visitors had not endeared themselves to me in recent seasons with their own displays of gamesmanship (you may know my opinion on this blight on the game).

And yet – I could not help feeling sympathy for the aforementioned unhappiness in their supporters’ ranks.

And that is the context in which the numbers have to be understood correctly!

Why are the lanes in swimming competitions or track and field athletics exactly the same length?

Why do all race cars have to follow the same race track without any short cuts for some but not others etc?

Because – for any sport competition to have meaning and intrinsic value all competitors MUST have the same chance and the SAME conditions. Otherwise the results do NOT reflect their respective performance but is no more than an arbitrary …. “something”.

This is the giant mammoth in the football closet (or any other team sport). If the officiating is not equitable and CONSISTENT then a match can turn all too easily into a meaningless farce.

Sending one player off – from the sin bin – in itself a rather embarrassing feature of the domestic game, given FIFA explicitly introduced it for social and youth matches only and therefore this being something that is NOT used in ANY serious competition around the globe (!!!)  – while another player (well known for his endless and ludicrously obvious theatrics) was, for example, allowed to dive all over the place (there was a yellow card eventually I should mention) and even to “force” a free kick decision early in the game despite the initial and clearly indicated lack of any justification for it, represents a hefty strand of mammoth hair to me.

The first half was a very even “back and forth battle” with neither team creating an obvious KPI advantage and the half time score reflected that with a 0-0.

The third quarter of the match, however saw a rampant Central who did concede – against the run of play – a mildly disappointing goal before said sin bin episode for the visitors.

This episode- combined with a string of other decisions- clearly allowed the home team to utterly dominate proceedings until the end.

Given minutes 45 to 67 – this could have happened anyway, maybe – but certainly not to this astonishing extent!

And even so – it took a seemingly inevitable penalty in stoppage time to decide the match.

CEN vs NSU GK

The repeated and completely unnecessary and badly executed showboating around back passes in front of the Central goal, together with Silvio Rodic’s numerous heroics on the opposite side, could have easily still have been the home team’s undoing, by the way!

The “numbers”, then, correct as they are, do reflect this particular context in which they were created.

In the end – the team that produced the stronger KPIs – regardless of HOW that happened – won the match.

And that is all that THESE numbers are about.

THAT is still true.

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NRFL Premiership Round 1 – Bay Olympic vs Hamilton Wanderers 5:4

9 goals – what more could you want from the first competitive football match observed in ages!

here are the KPI numbers:

for the context it is important to know that Hamilton was reduced to 10 players in the 38th minute (Red card)!

BOL vs HAM team

Despite  a numerical advantage for more than a half for Bay Olympic neither team – in the balance of match time – was able to dominate proceedings.

However, Bay Olympic did create more truly dangerous situations in their opposition’s penalty area. They produced more shots on target and straight up high quality shots as well as two shots from inside the 6 yard box. While the C1SOT proved too much 3 out of 4 times for Hamilton’s keeper he produced two strong saves for the close up efforts (one with the help of the goal post) – which I want to add – were also 1-1 situations! So – those were really really strong saves.

Ironically it was Hamilton, though, who scored twice via penalties while Bay Olympic’s own penalty shot went over the goal.

Hamilton also scored via a C1SOT and a completely unsaveable deflection for the final 5:4 score line.

BOL vs HAM GK

Elliot Munford produced a truly solid effort in Bay Olympic’s goal and he even so very nearly got to a well taken penalty, too.

His counterpart, Cory Townsend had a bit of a roller coaster ride with a couple of great close -up/1-1 saves and a late C1SOT save, too but he also struggled on a number of occasions and I do believe that one of the home team’s goals would be counted as an own goal with him being the last player to have made contact.

In summary – in some ways a deserved win for the home team but also lucky given how the match developed with two penalties against and another penalty for themselves going over the goal and how strongly Hamilton overall held up with one player down.

In any case it was a very entertaining and lively match and I certainly did not regret having made this outing.

keep it coming!

HERE is an excellent write up of this match by Jeremy Ruane on his website http://www.ultimatenzsoccer.com

 

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The new season’s template

 

This will be the 2020 season template.

It will include the most important team and GK KPIs at one glance.

Presence: how many times was meaningful possession inside the opposition’s penalty area achieved

Pressure: how many times was a potentially goal scoring situation created

Total Shots on Target (SOT): what it says

High Quality SOT:   C1 at least 2 out of 3 criteria met for quality shots

High Quality SOT:   1-1 shots from 1-1 situations that are NOT aimed at GK body

High Quality SOT: 6YB shots from inside the 6 yard box that are NOT aimed at GK body

Medium Quality SOT: at least 1 out 3 criteria met or 1-1/ 6YB SOT aimed at GK body

GK KPI are mostly self-explanatory

Reliability: % out of ALL non-SOT related high pressure actions (claims, clearances, defusing 1-1, close back passes ..) were successfully executed.

        NRF Premier Div

        20/6/2020

               XY                  Park

 
 XY FC                      :    AB United
                Presence  
               Pressure  
  Total Shots on target (SOT)  
  HQ  Shots on target: C1  
  HQ  Shots on target: 1-1  
  HQ  Shots on target: 6YB  
 

               /          / 

            Medium QSOT

C2 / 1-1B / 6YBB

 

               /          / 

       Penalties  
  GK Core KPI  
             /     C1 SOT needed to score against   /   C1 saves /
  1-1SOT needed to score against /   1-1 saves  
  6YBSOT needed to score against /   6YB saves  
  other significant saves

C2/ 1-1B/ 6YBB

 
  1-1   defused: SOT prevented  
            out of           % Non-SOT related Pressure

Reliability %

            out of         %                                  
football · NRF · Uncategorized

The Covid-19 virus has been eliminated in NZ (for the moment) – long live the NRFL!

IMG_5958As New Zealand successfully emerges out of the Covid pandemic and – as one of the first countries in the world is virus free (touch wood) – community sports are back on the menu here in Aotearoa.

The top level club football competition is about to fire up on the 20th June 2020.

The draw has not been released and I do not know if we are looking at a truncated season – nor is it clear (to me) what all this means in regards to promotion and relegation.

We will see.

Meanwhile the Auckland Football Federation and the North(ern/land?) Football Federation have thrown their lot together to form the NRF (Northern Region Football).

Of course, the various divisions of the top (club based) football competition still includes Waikato-Bay of Plenty (WaiBop) clubs and so it is still the NRFL – as it has been for many years. (Thanks for the feedback regarding a misunderstanding on my part – I really need to get back out more often)

Personally – I have left my home the grand total of 6 times since the 19th March (short local walks not counting) and I am quite excited to have a good enough reason to do so again soon.

Catch you in a few days (probably) with the first 2020 NRF match stats.

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awakeningtothechallenge.wordpress.com is now live!

Hi Football fans and affecionados!

 

If you are struggling a bit with this whole COVID19 situation … you are one of millions of people to do so!

As I am a psychologist in real life I have now begun to provide advise and techniques on how to get through all this as best as possible.

You can check out my brand new blog 

http://www.awakeningtothechallenge.wordpress.com

or

you can watch my brand new ( and hopefully temporary only) youtube channel on how to cope with COVID19 HERE   I hope you and your families – who and wherever you are – stay safe – which for most of us means “stay home!!

 

All the best

from Auckland. New Zealand

Dieter Dvorak

football · goal keeping · NRFL · Pressure · Quality Shots · Shots on Target SOT · Uncategorized

NRFL Div 2 Relegation match1 : Te Atatu vs Franklin United 1-3

Capture

NRFL Relegation match TA vs FU 7-3-2020

My impression:

Franklin’s youthful athleticism triumphed over Te Atatu’s experience.

Te Atatu’s GK, Eddy Trubshoe delivered an extremely solid performance as well as a number of fine saves, thus preventing a debacle for the home team.

IF Te Atatu can find a way to put (much) more pressure on Franklin’s keeper anything will still be possible for the re-match.

That’s it!

That is the 2020 FNB style – we mostly  let the numbers talk for themselves!

Let’s see what happens in 2020 

 

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KPI Scoring schedule update

Any coverage of the 2020 NRFL season will see a potentially important refinement of the FNB scoring criteria.

Until now ANY shots taken from inside the 6 yard box and unimpeded shots (from 1-1 situations) have been classified as “high quality” and “match deciding” efforts.

However, for some time I have realised that shots that are aimed straight at the keeper’s body are next to useless as the ball will be automatically stopped. That is true for ANY shots irrespective from where – or which situation – they originate!

Therefore, such “body shots” from inside the 6 yard box / 1-1 situations will no longer be recorded as “high class / match deciding” efforts.

They will still be listed separately from other shots as they continue to indicate that the team is able to construct a very promising CHANCE – even if the execution is poor.

In fact, the percentage of “body shots” out of all efforts on target will provide team managers and coaches valuable information about their strikers and will help identifying the presence – or absence – of the “target fixation phenomenon”.

In regards to goal keeping, this change will help separating “incidental saves” from saves built on actual skill and agility as saves of “body shots” will no longer be listed as “crucial saves”. Of course, even such incidental saves require a decent amount of “courage under fire” and a willingness to put/keep one’s body in the way and will therefore still be listed as significant saves/ high pressure situations.

better football everyone

Bundesliga · football · goal keeping · match analysis · match stats · NRFL · team season stats · Uncategorized

Football and goal keeping – a match made in …… hell??

After closely observing football for a number of years and across all levels of the game – from local youth competitions to NRFL and NZ Summer league, EPL and Bundesliga and World Cups, I have found it fascinating to see just how often there is a peculiar dynamic on display when it comes to the relationship between the overall team and the goal keeping position.

In fact – I have come to the conclusion that a great many people would be much happier with the sport if there was no goal keeper involved at all! Maybe this is even more pronounced in my home country of New Zealand where team sports that do NOT have a goal keeper (e.g. rugby, rugby league and netball/ basketball) are the most popular(ised) team sports.

It is a well-established fact that humans will DISMISS, DISCOUNT and DISTORT factual information if and when reality does NOT fit with the individual’s preferences, beliefs. This also happens when such facts DO fit with someone’s deeply held fears.

This cognitive distortion phenomenon is very obviously at work when it comes to goal keeping and football.

So – what are the facts that do not fit with spectators, supporters, players and – most importantly – coaches’ beliefs and preferences about the sport of football?

After analysing hundreds (probably more than a thousand, actually) of football matches it is absolutely evident that – under certain circumstancesone single player (i.e. goal keeper) has as much power and influence over a football match’s outcome as do the other 10 players combinedsometimes even more than them!

And that is an irrefutably established fact that seems absolutely unacceptable to many – if not most -coaches and supporters alike no matter how experienced they may be!

It is probably psychologically unacceptable to many because it challenges the very ethos of a team sport (“there is no “I” in team”) where two sets of 10 field players each are working very hard to be successful. It feels unfair that one single player should have the power to potentially nullify all this effort of so many others – doesn’t it?

It is uncomfortable and inconvenient to even acknowledge that a single player out of 11 (or up to 14 including substitutions) should be so important to the outcome of matches and entire seasons. In New Zealand, we also have a cultural phenomenon that is known as “the tall poppy syndrome”. That means anyone “standing out” in their field is very likely to “be brought back down”. A curious – and somewhat hypocritical – phenomenon that is happening to “actual high achievers” given we also live in a time ruled by “celebrities” whose fame is often based on….?

Having said that, most people following football do NOT seem to have any trouble glorifying and idolising individual field players at all!

But there is one other aspect that contributes to this strange double standard. Celebrated field players are seen as a “positive force” because they realise the ultimate aim inherent to football: SCORING goals!

The very definition of goal keepers, on the other hand, is to PREVENT this from happening. Goal keeping is actually a “destructive force” within the logic of the game. And – unless a save looks spectacular or happens at a poignant moment in a match – preventing something from happening (i.e. making saves) is never nearly as noticeable – let alone memorable – as making something happening (i.e. scoring a goal) in the first place. That saliency effect is just one of many human cognitive biases at work.

Sometimes this unwillingness/inability to even see or acknowledge the relative importance of this single player in relation to all the other players leads to hilarious results. As I have pointed out two years ago, I came across a match programme (NRFL Div2) that entirely correctly described how one team (in their previous encounter) had been quite dominant and had managed to take many more shots on target. However – instead of simply acknowledging the fact that it was – in parts – a rather spectacular debut performance by a young opposition goal keeper, who managed to nullify the stronger team’s efforts by making a string of unspectacular as well as some decent saves (see here for a brief illustration) – the match report was filled with flowery euphemisms so as to avoid mentioning his contribution to this particular game even once!

see here for the original blog from 2 years ago

Semantic acrobatics that are hilarious and revealing, for sure, but also somewhat sad and disrespectful to the player, to be honest.

Ironically – this exact self-same club (Albany United) made the shrewd move to secure an absolute top goalie for their 2019 season and they consequently have enjoyed their most successful campaign in years with promotion into Div1 and reaching the quarter final of the 2019 Chatham Cup! Good on them!

I have also often wondered if the current obsession with the “football playing goal keeper” is driven in parts by this (sub?-) conscious desire to “normalise” the goalie and to “bring this particular player back into the fold” as it were.

Pretending that a goal keeper is really nothing more than the 11th field player who happens to wear gloves and happens to be allowed to touch the ball with his hands inside the penalty is a superficially elegant way to resolve the cognitive dissonance and discomfort around this player’s “specialness” and potentially disproportionate impact.

Taking this – obviously completely fallacious-  line of thought to the extreme, there would be no need for a goal keeper to develop and maintain (through intense GK specific training) all those delicate neuro-motor pathways that connect the Primary and Secondary Motor cortices – via the central and peripheral nervous system – with the player’s limbs and hands (see here for more information on the neurophysiology of movements involved in goal keeping or any other activity!).

Making diving, flying, jumping or small movement based reflex saves – claiming or punching away high balls coming into the goal mouth area from corners, free kicks or crosses as much as killing off a fast break by stealing and then smothering the ball from underneath an attacking player  – however – all involve highly specialised action sequences based on said neuronal pathways. These are goal keeper specific actions, that are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT to those of all other players and that therefore HAVE TO be practised (and then practised practised….) in order to be there “on demand” if and when needed for the goal keeper to be able to PREVENT a goal from happening.

Discouraging or even preventing a goal keeper from developing and maintaining these delicate neuronal pathways – because they are “just” another player”(with gloves) – would be extremely ill advised. That is the completely obvious reason for each and any professionally run team around the world to have dedicated goal keeper coaching alongside the field-players’ training activities so that these particular players can actually perform their specialised function within the team to the best of their natural talents and general fitness levels  and for the best of the TEAM.

Self-evident, really, even without any knowledge about the neuro-physiology of goal keeping and yet….

This is taking us deep into the dark side of the psychology of goal keeping in football: those in charge of a team unwittingly (one would at least hope it IS unwittingly) sabotaging their own team via irrational and costly decisions in regards to team selection and strategy. As a common consequence “soft goals” keep being conceded and scoring opportunities are “gifted” to the opposition (through an inability to control the goal mouth area – especially in regards to high balls coming into this danger zone etc). This can wreck the outcome of matches and even entire seasons as a result.

I have observed this across all levels of football over the last 10 years – sometimes from close up and sometimes from afar.

Encouraging (forcing?) the goal keeper to scream their heads off for the entire match and “making them” constantly roam their entire half of the pitch – or even beyond – and needlessly (!) “taking on” opposition players far outside their own penalty area even if and when defenders are close by anyway can be very costly. Just over the past few weeks (i.e. 2019 NRFL Premiership including Reserves) I have observed several goalies to follow this pattern and every time their team eventually paid the price in form of unnecessary goals conceded that changed the points distribution to their team’s detriment – maybe even costing them the title?

What I have NEVER observed – hand on heart – is a pseudo field-player/goal keeper doing anything that would have actually and decisively changed a particular match in his team’s favour.

NEVER!

Does a freely roaming keeper look exciting?  Yes it does!

Does it prove that the goalie – and his coach – are “modern” and “up-to-date” with the current coaching theory/ideology/doctrine? Yes it does!

Does it make the team more dangerous and successful across the 90+ minutes of a match?  …. NO it does most decidedly does NOT in about 99%+ of all matches!

What such an approach, however, does do – at least in its extreme form – is  tiring out the player/keeper (physically AND mentally) who is subsequently not as sharp and focused and quick when it comes to fulfill his actual core function of PREVENTING goals from being scored!

And THAT makes a significant difference to the result.

The same goes for the factual importance of the mythical “distribution rates” for goal kicks, by the way, that I have also NEVER observed deciding a match! This is one of the many nebulous and vague “qualities”, such as “presence” ,”being strong” or “being hungry” that are being relied upon by team selectors especially when attempting to rationalise and justify selecting an objectively unsuitable player for this crucial position. The only thing that actually significantly matters in a match is the keeper’s ability to PREVENT goals (as well as scoring opportunities for the opposition team) from being scored against their team.

For sure, there are moments when it is really advantageous for a keeper to have good foot skills or to be able to make that long and precise goal kick! Yet, this is maybe 5% – in the real world away from dogma and theories – of what makes a goal keeper valuable to his team, at the very most.

The worst aspect of being in denial about the significance of goal keeping and/or the selected player’s performance levels is that a poor decision in regards to selecting this particular player can have devastating effects for the entire team! This because, anywhere else on the field other players can “take up the slack”. That is just not an option in regards to goal keeping … although … I have recently observed defenders making numerous clearances on the line in order to “mop up” their goalie’s shortcomings.

The most poignant example of this self-sabotaging phenomenon that I have observed was the German Bundesliga season 2014/15.

You may have heard about the coach and the club and the keeper involved in this scenario?

The club was Borussia Dortmund. The coach was no one other than Juergen Klopp and the keeper in question was Roman Weidenfeller.

Roman Weidenfeller was Germany’s National Team RGK (first back-up in line behind the legendary Manuel Neuer) and as such he had just returned from Brazil as a freshly crowned World Champion. At this stage he was also a very experienced and accomplished club player (in Bundesliga since 2000) with lots of successful seasons behind him (winning Championships, DFB Cup…) most of them with Dortmund.

What could possibly go wrong?!

I need to tell you here that Klopp – years later – stated that he had not been interested in systematic match and player analysis before coming to FC Liverpool!

see here a recent blog with an attached article on FC Liverpool’s analytic department

What happened was that Roman Weidenfeller – despite all his experience and undeniable previous successes – delivered the Bundesliga’s absolutely weakest GK performance of all 18 teams during that particular season!

The best GK performance – in case you are wondering – came from Loris Karius/ Mainz in that season. (and 2015/16 again) Something that the professional analysts in Liverpool agreed with me on and subsequently arranged his transfer to England! (not that they would have actually consulted me – maybe they did read FNB, though?)

Weidenfeller’s performance (behind an initially sub-par defence, too) was so weak that it cost his team many points – match after match after match. This carried on to the point of Dortmund being a relegation candidate before picking up later in the season (as a team) and making it to safety. The nearly disastrous outcome for Dortmund cost Klopp his job at the club.

Something he would not worry about these days, of course.

Anyhow – short of assuming that Klopp suffered from literal blindness or injury/stroke related cognitive deficits (both not true, of course) I can only assume that it was the phenomenon of DISMISSING, DISCOUNTING and DISTORTING the reality of his experienced and accomplished goal keeper’s on going poor performances that was dragging the entire team into the relegation zone.

How crazy is that?

One of the most internationally successful  coaches in recent times was not able to see what the objective analysis clearly demonstrated! Presumably, the notion that his highly decorated and previously very successful keeper was having a never ending nightmare of a season was simply UNTHINKABLE and did not fit Klopp’s preferences and beliefs. And so it was dismissed, distorted and discounted.

Recently I have – again – seen an almost identical scenario play out!

Such is the power of human cognitive biases and mental short cuts that it can lead even the most experienced and accomplished coaches down a path of denial (or willful ignorance as it may be) that leads to poor team selection decisions and consequently leads to failure for the entire team – BECAUSE a goal keeper – especially within an overall struggling team – can be responsible for 50% or more of the match results!

In both observed cases, the respective sets of 10 field players were ultimately strong enough across the season to save their team from relegation but so much more would have been possible…

Of course, there are also many (more) matches when the goal keeper does NOT play any significant role for the final match result! These are more or less very one-sided matches or matches where the goal keepers are completely identical in their performance levels.

Generally speaking, in about one or two out of ten matches the goal keepers WILL – however- change and even completely turn a match on its head! If this keeps happening to your team (i.e. losing points despite being the better overall “team”) especially if it keeps happening more often than those one or two times across 10 matches, THEN  you obviously have a serious goal keeping problem on your hands!

All of this has been explained and demonstrated and documented many times over in this blog (and elsewhere) and it is as real and true and significant a fact as it was when I started it.

The empirical evidence collected and presented here over the past few years (and elsewhere) is nothing short of being conclusive.

Unless the rules of football are being changed to exclude goal keeping altogether, everyone in a position of influence and power – and responsibility – MUST make peace with the fact that goal keepers ARE extremely significantly different from field-players AND that they CAN have a completely disproportionate impact on match results – one way or the other.

If this cold, hard fact about football is dismissed, discounted or distorted (sub-consciously or deliberately you can deny it and you can ignore it) your entire team WILL  pay the price!

Therefore, appropriately supporting this – at times – crucial player’s function via regular dedicated training sessions as well as making sure to select and support the objectively best performing keeper available in the first place are a MUST for any TEAM that is 100% serious about performing as best as they can!

But that should just be common sense and good team management, anyway.

And with this nugget of wisdom it is once again time to shut the Footballnumbersblog gates for the time being.

Maybe (!) I will cover the 2020 NRFL Premiership season as a completely independent and unattached observer and if I do I will probably stick to matches close to home:

Bay-O-Watch 2020 ?

We will see…

Until then