On Senderos, Hughes (and Baird!)

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.

5 thoughts on “On Senderos, Hughes (and Baird!)

  1. Agreed wholeheartedly. I think Senderos has had some tremendous games this season. I love his passion and aggression. The sight of him galloping up the pitch is fantastic. The thing is, he takes risks, and sometimes just about pulls them off, and occasionally fails. But Hangeland, Hughes, Schwarzer have also made glaring mistakes – they’re human. For some reason, Senderos has been labelled with that tiresome label “accident waiting to happen”. When he makes a mistake it’s “I told you so”.

    I like both Senderos and Hughes. Nice to have the choice between them, and then Baird as another alternative.

  2. I was wondering when you were going to wade into this again! Since our winning run, people seem to have gone off the whole ‘don’t mess with what is not broken’ and ‘Martin Jol is wrecking the best Fulham defence ever’ arguments, which is nice.

    My thoughts are pretty clear – I think Phillipe is a very good centre back. I think Hughes is great too, but I am more sceptical about his place in a team based around passing it from the back. As you have posted before, Senderos offers significantly more going forward than Hughes.

    The best thing about this whole situation is that for the first time since Hangeland joined the defence would be able to cope fairly well without him for an extended period. I would be really intrigued to see a Senderos-Hughes partnership at CB before the end of the season because on paper they really compliment each other (one more aggressive, one more passive).

    1. true but Baird’s better in the air than both put together so I wonder if he isn’t Hangeland’s best sub? Still very weird how little Senderos does aerially, can’t quite get my head around that.

      Yes, Martin Jol wrecking Fulham’s best ever defence was a bit silly. He’s tinkered a little but not ridiculously, just probing aroudn to see which players will work best for him in which circumstances. the longer the season has gone on the more I like what he’s doing.

      1. I wonder how much the aerial stats are messed up because Hangeland is ever present in the back line. If we had shorter CBs would the heading be more evenly distributed? It has always seemed that Hangeland was on defacto heading duties (for obvious reasons) even under Roy.

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