One of the more annoying message board debates has been around Philippe Senderos’ impact on Brede Hangeland. I remember when Aaron Hughes was regularly criticised by fans, one respected poster frequently bemoaning how Hughes ‘forced’ Hangeland to play in the left centre-back slot which limited him as a player. That sounded like the worst kind of gibberish at the time, but just went to emphasise the kind crackpot theories fans like to propose (not immune to that here, of course. But that seemed like nonsense and was nonsense).
In any case, this year Martin Jol has switched his centre-backs around, with no obvious detriment to Hangeland as best I can tell. He usually plays well but sometimes doesn’t – it’s not a case of blaming his partner is it?
Nevertheless, there are those fans out there who remain convinced that having to play alongside Senderos is causing Brede to get nervous. Again: nonsense, I think, but there we are. Can we disprove the suggestion?
Perhaps. Whoscored.com take all the stats opta make available and give each player a rating after each game. Here’s what we’ve seen game by game.
First, the missing part of this discussion is Chris Baird. He’s only played 5 times, but when he has, Hangeland has averaged 7/10. For hughes and Senderos that drops to 6.6/10, which is probably not significant. But it’s fair to say, whatever it is that Senderos is supposedly doing to Hangeland to make him struggle so is certainly not showing up in the stats.
What’s perhaps more interesting is how Jol’s moved things around. I hadn’t realised but you can see clear evidence of players being dropped after a bad performance, with Senderos being let off the axe a couple of times and Hangeland (rightly) immune.
But after Everton Hughes made way for Baird; after Spurs Baird made way for Senderos; after City Senderos made way for Hughes; after Swansea Jol made the same swap. Interesting.
Anyway, the website has an average rating of 6.5 for all three suitors so, in conclusion, I don’t think it really matters who plays. They’re all quite good.
I needed stats for that? No, but it reaffirmed nicely what I thought anyway. Hopefully people will stop harping on about this at some point.
PS Senderos is a lot younger than Hughes; given a relatively equal ability level you play the younger man a bit more, no? Another tick for Jol, I suspect.