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The Failings of Football Match Reports


John Simkin
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As some members know I compile details of match reports and player ratings for my website on West Ham.

http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2007WHsquad.htm

This involves reading virtually every newspaper report (mostly online as I am too mean to buy them all). I have observed a pattern in these reports that I thought members might be interested in.

The initial online reports (BBC, Sky, etc.) concentrate on what they considered the important dramatic incidents of the match. For example, the reports on the game against Blackburn Rovers focused on Bellamy’s goal, Blackburn’s disallowed goal, Green’s penalty save, the flattering nature of the score-line, etc. The reporters are interested in creating heroes or villains. As the scorer of the first-goal, Davenport, is selected as a hero. The fact, that he was responsible for the first Blackburn goal, is rarely mentioned.

The Sunday newspaper reports are different. They tend to concentrate on the soap-opera aspects of football. For example, has Curbishley saved his job by this victory and the reception that Paul Ince received from the crowd. There is also much speculation about players being sold or bought before the transfer deadline. This is especially true of the tabloid press. Much of this appears to be made-up and only a very small percentage will turn out to be true. For example, I recommend people read the back issues of the BBC gossip page to see how few of those transfers actually took place before the deadline.

Newspaper reports on the Monday are different again. Journalists assume that you have read what happened during the game in the Sunday papers. Therefore, they concentrate on the human-interest aspect of the game. For example, several newspapers today carry interviews with Calum Davenport about the fractured vertebrae he suffered last year that very nearly paralysed him.

I think this approach to football reporting is deeply flawed. As a fan, what I want is a detailed analysis of the progress that my team is making. This is a difficult task and maybe that is why it is almost always ignored. What journalists prefer to do is to concentrate on what is obvious, the players whose individual skill or incompetence has led to goals. Journalists rarely comment on the way manager’s tactical performance. Nor do they examine structural problems in the team. For example, no one wrote about the problem that we have at full-back. In my opinion, we only have one competent full-back at the club (George McCartney) and this will cause us problems if it is not remedied in the transfer-market today.

In fact, the best analysis of football matches comes from forums and phone-ins. I agree that both contain a great deal of ignorant rubbish but it is where you will also find examples of deep analysis that rarely appears in the press.

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Guest Gary Loughran

Interesting observations, with which I agree. I'd add the new craze of Fantasy Football is now a big part of the Monday reports. With the Sun expanding it's ratings to cover NOTW team of the week and other stats. Obviously this is to encourage 'addicts' to check the NOTW and the Sun.

The full back issue is also worth noting again...in order to bring on McCartney, Faubert went off, Neil went to right back and Behrami to right midfield. A lot of movement to accomodate one substitution. But as you say, it seems only the most ardent fan is in need of this type of reporting. Jamie Redknapp and Alan Shearer are the poster boys for this banal reporting culture. They, like Roy Walker, are advocates of say what you see - it belittles the audience, especially those with eyes.

I have posted an article before by Dunphy - but the type of insight you yearn for is amply supplied on RTE, where - because they don't have to meet the players every Saturday night - they do call players for incompetence, brilliance and every managers tactics are severly scrutinised. I have never seen anything close to this debate on British TV.

Check out reports of Paolo Ferriera coming to a place near you, if the latest bout of gossip os anything to go by.

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I have posted an article before by Dunphy - but the type of insight you yearn for is amply supplied on RTE, where - because they don't have to meet the players every Saturday night - they do call players for incompetence, brilliance and every managers tactics are severly scrutinised. I have never seen anything close to this debate on British TV.

I've noticed this is a problem. Former players and journalists seem to be very wary of upsetting players with their comments. Journalists have even suggested that they will not get interviews in the future if they criticise them in their reports.

Check out reports of Paolo Ferriera coming to a place near you, if the latest bout of gossip os anything to go by.

I read that on KUMB. Ferriera seems past his best but would definitely be an improvement on Neil.

Others mentioned include Guglielmo Stendardo, David Di Michele, Gael Givet, Edison Cavani, Henrik Larsson, Walter Pandiani and Joe Mattock. The last of these would be my choice. I have seen him have some good games for the England under-23s. However, as he is English, I suspect he will not appeal to Gianluca Nani.

According to the Independent the Hammers have rejected a £5m bid from Sunderland for Carlton Cole.

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I think this approach to football reporting is deeply flawed. As a fan, what I want is a detailed analysis of the progress that my team is making. This is a difficult task and maybe that is why it is almost always ignored. What journalists prefer to do is to concentrate on what is obvious, the players whose individual skill or incompetence has led to goals. Journalists rarely comment on the way manager’s tactical performance. Nor do they examine structural problems in the team. For example, no one wrote about the problem that we have at full-back. In my opinion, we only have one competent full-back at the club (George McCartney) and this will cause us problems if it is not remedied in the transfer-market today.

It seems that the West Ham management does not go in for detailed analysis. They have just sold our one competent full-back.

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Guest Gary Loughran
I think this approach to football reporting is deeply flawed. As a fan, what I want is a detailed analysis of the progress that my team is making. This is a difficult task and maybe that is why it is almost always ignored. What journalists prefer to do is to concentrate on what is obvious, the players whose individual skill or incompetence has led to goals. Journalists rarely comment on the way manager’s tactical performance. Nor do they examine structural problems in the team. For example, no one wrote about the problem that we have at full-back. In my opinion, we only have one competent full-back at the club (George McCartney) and this will cause us problems if it is not remedied in the transfer-market today.

It seems that the West Ham management does not go in for detailed analysis. They have just sold our one competent full-back.

I will miss McCartney more than any of our released, paid off or sold players, who left his summer.

It seems he wanted to go and had handed in a transfer request...or perhaps he agreed to toe the party line on that for a small fee, we'll never know. But yes, our most consistent defensive player is gone. A position that has been woefully and wholly inadequately filled recently. Other teams will pick on our left back, unless it's changed, and in doing so, pick us apart.

What I do know is we've sold players to the tune of £19.3 million. Everyone of them a product of Pardew's regime. The only player Curbishley brought in cost us £3-4 million to get rid of (in turn limiting any spending power). Go figure. I wish any campaigns against Curbishley would focus less on his dour attitude and more on his incompetent tactics and purchases. His love of comfort and unwillingness to try new things resulted in us staying in 10th place for a ridiculous number of weeks last season. That is stagnation not success in my book.

Edited by Gary Loughran
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What I do know is we've sold players to the tune of £19.3 million. Everyone of them a product of Pardew's regime. The only player Curbishley brought in cost us £3-4 million to get rid of (in turn limiting any spending power). Go figure. I wish any campaigns against Curbishley would focus less on his dour attitude and more on his incompetent tactics and purchases. His love of comfort and unwillingness to try new things resulted in us staying in 10th place for a ridiculous number of weeks last season. That is stagnation not success in my book.

Curbishley's only defence is that he now has no say in transfers. Yet the person responsible for a situation where we now do not have one good full-back, is unaccountable.

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Guest Gary Loughran
Curbishley's only defence is that he now has no say in transfers. Yet the person responsible for a situation where we now do not have one good full-back, is unaccountable.

If they are incoming transfers that's not a bad thing :lol:

Good points - I don't like the thought of Curbishley having a good defence. I don't mind the team having one though.

So is Curbishley officially treading water until his replacement arrives? Is he another Roederesque yesman who is overseeing the ruin of a club?

What sort of man(ager) allows that situation to occur without doing something? Does the amount of money in the game these days stop managers doing the honourable thing. I mean, Roeder hung around for 12 months for the single reason he wouldn't resign and lose the pay off money.

Or is the money being saved for a new man to spend??

Edited by Gary Loughran
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What sort of man(ager) allows that situation to occur without doing something? Does the amount of money in the game these days stop managers doing the honourable thing. I mean, Roeder hung around for 12 months for the single reason he wouldn't resign and lose the pay off money.

You cannot expect any manager to resign given the massive payout they get when they are sacked.

Apparently, we might still get West Ham still want to sign Ghana skipper Steven Appiah, despite Monday's transfer deadline. The midfielder can move as a free agent from Turkish club Fenerbahce. The problem is that he has had a long-term knee injury. This was the reason he missed the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. He sounds our kind of player.

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Guest Gary Loughran
What sort of man(ager) allows that situation to occur without doing something? Does the amount of money in the game these days stop managers doing the honourable thing. I mean, Roeder hung around for 12 months for the single reason he wouldn't resign and lose the pay off money.

You cannot expect any manager to resign given the massive payout they get when they are sacked.

Apparently, we might still get West Ham still want to sign Ghana skipper Steven Appiah, despite Monday's transfer deadline. The midfielder can move as a free agent from Turkish club Fenerbahce. The problem is that he has had a long-term knee injury. This was the reason he missed the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. He sounds our kind of player.

I appreciate that managers hang around for the pay off, it's a shame though...but there is no reason for them to do otherwise and I certianly have accepted things in work for the sake of my job security.

So what is the prognosis? The team - if all injured players return and fitness is maintained as a whole - looks OK on paper. Without proper full backs...Matty Etherington??

To the general point of the topic though, there is precious little reporting coming out of Upton Park. No one seems to know what is really going on, it is also obvious Duxbury cannot be trusted - he seems to be the front man for the 'bad guys' :lol:

Below I've speculated on some other places the money went -

I must also note that on top of the Ljunberg payoff we also paid out monies to Brown (unbelievably), Joorabchian (even more unblievably) to the tune of several million or perhaps, more than we are aware of. Maybe if the books were opened we'd have just broken even this window. Due to the murky nature of the whole Tevez/Mascerano affair the club is reticent to publish the precise pay-off amounts, for obvious reasons. I just wonder how much the Brown/Joorachian crime syndicate prised from us. I also wonder if these recent sales have now righted the ship and we are at least back to scratch financially.

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What sort of man(ager) allows that situation to occur without doing something? Does the amount of money in the game these days stop managers doing the honourable thing. I mean, Roeder hung around for 12 months for the single reason he wouldn't resign and lose the pay off money.

You cannot expect any manager to resign given the massive payout they get when they are sacked.

Apparently, we might still get West Ham still want to sign Ghana skipper Steven Appiah, despite Monday's transfer deadline. The midfielder can move as a free agent from Turkish club Fenerbahce. The problem is that he has had a long-term knee injury. This was the reason he missed the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations tournament. He sounds our kind of player.

I appreciate that managers hang around for the pay off, it's a shame though...but there is no reason for them to do otherwise and I certianly have accepted things in work for the sake of my job security.

It seems that Kevin Keegan has resigned for the same reasons that Alan Curbishley might have left.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/t...ted/7593683.stm

Manager Kevin Keegan has left Newcastle United after only eight months in charge, BBC Radio 5 Live understands.

The 57-year-old held talks with the club's board on Tuesday morning amid reports he was unhappy with a lack of control over transfer activity.

Newcastle's only business on transfer deadline day was a £5.7m swoop for Spanish striker Xisco and the loan signing of midfielder Ignacio Gonzalez.

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It seems that he did not resign but was sacked. The story seems to mirror the problems at West Ham (sse point about a left-back):

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2008/se...d.premierleague

Newcastle United's owner may have worn a replica shirt emblazoned with 'King Kev' at Arsenal last Saturday but that failed to prevent Kevin Keegan being sacked by Mike Ashley today.

Rumours that Keegan - who refused to resign - and Newcastle had parted company began circulating in mid-morning after it became apparent that the manager had not turned up to take morning training.

It is understood that Keegan was summoned to a meeting with club officials including Derek Llambias, the managing director, early on Monday afternoon and effectively told he needed to pull his socks up in the wake of the team's 3-0 defeat at Arsenal. This in turn prompted a furious row in which Keegan, once again, expressed his frustration at Dennis Wise's control of the recruitment policy.

Newcastle's executive director, Wise is in charge of transfers but failed to deliver Keegan the specialist left-back he had been demanding all summer, let alone the "four top quality" signings he had hoped would arrive by midnight on Monday. Newcastle's only transfer activity on deadline day was the signing of Spanish striker Xisco and the loan signing of midfielder Ignacio Gonzalez.

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Guest Gary Loughran

Our left back problem has been alleviated somewhat. We have signed Ilunga a French based Congolese international, aged 26. We have also added firepower in the form of Di Michele (32) who I recall scoring against us when he played for Palermo. A good creative player then, I hope he has retained that.

We have also signed a 17 year old Hungarian named Bajnar, who is apparently quite highly rated.

A note of caution - all these signings are season loans with views to permanent transfers. I suppose there is nothing, in itself, wrong with having a look before buying. However, should they prove successful and wish to permanently sign them, then next summer will be as disappointing as this. Undoubtedly they would then be constituted as new signings.

I sincerely hope Curbishley was involved, I also hope that they help us have a productive season. I most of all hope that they are not like Tevez/Mascherano - brought in behind the managers back - a move which all but ended Pardew's stint. Some calling him a racist for refusing to play them.

Experience and history tell me Curbishley had little or nothing to do with these signings - just by the fact they haven't played in the Premier League, would suggest Curb's wouldn't know about their existence. :)

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Our left back problem has been alleviated somewhat. We have signed Ilunga a French based Congolese international, aged 26. We have also added firepower in the form of Di Michele (32) who I recall scoring against us when he played for Palermo. A good creative player then, I hope he has retained that.

Not very impressed with Di Michele's record. Even at his prime he was not a great success in Italy.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Di_Michele

Hérita Ilunga has played for Saint-Étienne and Toulouse. Not really outstanding club sides. Although he is a regular in the Congo team. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herita_Ilunga

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Guest Gary Loughran

A possible pre-emptive strike strike has been launched by the West Ham owners. Seemingly in an attempt to offset fanbase anger at the lack of investment and sales of players the club issued a statement - which said lots and nothing at the same time.

The £40million net transfer expenditure is in marked coflict with a recent KUMB item which put the net expenditure at £14.8 million (on cursory examination it seems reasonably accurate). The other £25 million certainly isn't easily reconcilable.

Curbishley - despite being challenged by our Captain during a recent dressing room flare up(pot kettle and black) - seems on a collision course with management that will cost his job. Whether this is over the sales of players, his general tactical approach, his demeanour - is unclear. What is clear is that following the statement declaring the arrival of 3 new signings (if Premiership registration is approved) the club web site advertised "reaction from Curbishley to follow" - I have returned to the site quite a few times to find Curbishley's reaction (as I couldn't believe he was involved in the signings adnwanted to see what he had to say). Today still no word from Curbishley - instead the Official Statement issued (above) was there.

I may be reading too much into this - but I can't read it any other way than a Curbishley discontent and prelude to a resignation/pat off/severance. One report today suggests that Curbishley is willing to walk if the severance is right. I think this means he is arbitration, possibly claiming the club has undermined him and in doing so have involuntarily resigned Curbishiley. This might allow him to walk away honourably and with a pay-off.

Of course he could be firmly cemented as manager, reinvigorated by the transfer moves he was directly involved in...in which case ignore the last couple of paragraphs :)

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A possible pre-emptive strike strike has been launched by the West Ham owners. Seemingly in an attempt to offset fanbase anger at the lack of investment and sales of players the club issued a statement - which said lots and nothing at the same time.

The £40million net transfer expenditure is in marked coflict with a recent KUMB item which put the net expenditure at £14.8 million (on cursory examination it seems reasonably accurate). The other £25 million certainly isn't easily reconcilable.

Curbishley - despite being challenged by our Captain during a recent dressing room flare up(pot kettle and black) - seems on a collision course with management that will cost his job. Whether this is over the sales of players, his general tactical approach, his demeanour - is unclear. What is clear is that following the statement declaring the arrival of 3 new signings (if Premiership registration is approved) the club web site advertised "reaction from Curbishley to follow" - I have returned to the site quite a few times to find Curbishley's reaction (as I couldn't believe he was involved in the signings adnwanted to see what he had to say). Today still no word from Curbishley - instead the Official Statement issued (above) was there.

I may be reading too much into this - but I can't read it any other way than a Curbishley discontent and prelude to a resignation/pat off/severance. One report today suggests that Curbishley is willing to walk if the severance is right. I think this means he is arbitration, possibly claiming the club has undermined him and in doing so have involuntarily resigned Curbishiley. This might allow him to walk away honourably and with a pay-off.

Of course he could be firmly cemented as manager, reinvigorated by the transfer moves he was directly involved in...in which case ignore the last couple of paragraphs :)

Curbishley is involved in the same kind of dispute as Kevin Keegan. However, the support of the fans has forced Newcastle to back-down. The idea of a Director of Football cannot work in Britain. No club has had success using this system. Nor will they get a good manager to accept such a system. If Curbishley, who will they replace him with?

Curbishley brought in Upson, Bellamy, Parker and Dyer. These were all top players with experience of playing at the top level. They have all suffered from injuries but will in time come good.

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