Bryan Ruiz and the space-time continuum

Some players like lots of time and space, others can operate in crowds.

To play in central midfield you need to be at one end of what we’ll call the space-time continuum; if you are not at the right end you may struggle in that role. In that case you need to find somewhere else where you will get space and time.

Bryan Ruiz in particular seems to get a bit messed up in a crowd. He gives the ball away a lot when he drops deep, and frankly it’s dangerous for him and the team. He is at the wrong end of the space-time continuum to be playing in busy areas.

But when you move him up front something interesting happens. The defenders are one side of him for a start, rather than surrounding him. And often they drop off a little. Suddenly Bryan gets the opportunity to play.

Fine, you might say – all footballers would like time to play. Right, of course. But not all footballers have the wherewithall to take advantage of this space and time. So while Bryan is at the other end of the space-time continuum, really this continuum is not two dimensional because if it was you’d get this:

Happy in a crowd Not happy in a crowd

|—– Danny Murphy/Clint Dempsey/Mousa Dembele ————-Bryan Ruiz/Brede Hangeland/Aaron Hughes—-|

You need some kind of space-time continuum optimisation matrix:

Happy in a crowd/good in space

Murphy (then to a much lesser degree) Dempsey/Dembele

Happy in a crowd/bad in space


Unhappy in a crowd/good in space


Unhappy in a crowd/bad in space


We might try to plot the space-time continuum optimisation matrix later on.

Anyway, the point is, work out who can do what and put them in a position to succeed. In the right situations Bryan Ruiz is a genius; in the wrong ones he looks stupid. So…..

11 thoughts on “Bryan Ruiz and the space-time continuum

  1. As you point out, Dembele is king of the crowded midfield, which is why he is so crucial to how we play.

    When he plays, Danny gets and extra second, as do our attackers because Moussa draws so much attention. If he had been playing last night (probably in place of Davies, who did a good job but I would say was the weakest of the attacking players) we would have created more chances and probably won.

    Having Ruiz and Dembele in the same team should solve issues against teams that press because both will get time on the ball when the other plays.

      1. You definitely need a splash of Dempsey for killer instinct. Duff put in one good cross yesterday that Ruiz was in the right position but didn’t make an effort to get on the end of, that you could tell that Dempsey probably would’ve made at least a bit of contact with.

  2. Sitting with a West Brom supporting mate last night, he commented that Ruiz was being man marked throughout the match. He noticed that either McAuley or Morrison was within a few yards of him at all times.
    It’s a shame that his reputation and price tag has caught up with him already, and opposing managers targeting him to make a mistake as a weakness to win the ball back.

  3. I thought it was Ruiz’s best performance for Fulham so far – and he’s definitley better off up front. He also seemed to have a bit more swagger and purpose about him last night, as if psychologically freed by the departure of Big Ego Bobby. He’s the man now. I look forward to watching him play.

  4. Amusing stuff. But the bottom-line is that when there is pressure on time and space players show how basically ‘good’ they are. And it’s the reason why replacing Danny Murphy won’t be easy – the man is a class act.

  5. Interesting article but the key issue is the instructions Ruiz gets from Martin Jol. Yesterday he seemed completely lost in the midfield with little awareness of where his team mates were in his vicinity.Play him on the wing is relative space and he’ll make a greater contribution. On a different point,, his heading and ability to win the ball are woeful. Whilst his on-ball talent is clear to see, I fear his shortcomings are too important to make him a serious premier league player.

    1. maybe, but he’s already scored two absolute beauties and made at least two for Dempsey. All this in his first season when he’s been used on and off and must adjust to the league. It’s all looking quite exciting I’d say.

  6. I doon’t know anyhing about time and space or continuums, but it should be fairly obvious to all concerned that Bryan Ruis with his back to goal is a liability but facing defenders and taking them on he is at his very best and a real handful.

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