Awards and Clint Dempsey

It’s been a good week for righteous indignation, but I fear that the latest round slightly misses the mark.

While I was quick to pepper any journalist who seemed to be awake with a Clint Dempsey prod via Twitter last night, ultimately I think this is probably not quite fair. The PFA (e.g. the players) have five nominees for their award, and Dempsey’s not on the list (which is Rooney, RVP, Silva, Aguero, Hart). 

Whoscored.com rate players based on Opta data and rank everyone as follows based on the season so far.

1  Wayne Rooney Manchester United
2  Robin van Persie Arsenal
3  David Silva Manchester City
4  Luka Modric Tottenham
5  Gareth Bale Tottenham
6  Antonio Valencia Manchester United
7  Mikel Arteta Arsenal
8  Sergio Agüero Manchester City
9  Michael Carrick Manchester United
10  Yaya Touré Manchester City
11  Juan Mata Chelsea
12  Nani Manchester United
13  Samir Nasri Manchester City
14  Clint Dempsey Fulham
15  Luis Suárez Liverpool
16  Frank Lampard Chelsea
17  Rafael van der Vaart Tottenham
18  Emmanuel Adebayor Tottenham
19  Ashley Young Manchester United
20  James Morrison West Bromwich

This looks very reasonable to me and validates the players’ views to a degree, too. Dempsey is 14th, which is great when you consider how many players are in this business, but not as high as we might hope if we’re in an excitable mood.

In mitigation, only he and WBA’s James Morrison (Mr Mojo Risin’) are not from the best teams in the league, which a) shows how well they’ve played and b) shows that they probably could play for said teams.

So it’s not a disaster that he’s been overlooked. What I suspect might work out in his favour is the writers’ award. I read a lot of the sports papers and it seems to me that a lot of football journalists were on to Dempsey before Fulham fans were. They’ve often talked him up, and while fans are horribly quick to find flaws, neutral sportswriters come, watch, and write. Dempsey’s always been well enough regarded and has received even more good press this year. I think the writers like Dempsey, and will want to show that they’re not just big team obsessed.  It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he placed in those awards.

14 thoughts on “Awards and Clint Dempsey

  1. Goodness me – Michael Carrick is the best English midfielder on that list. I don’t think the PFA shortlist is an absolute shocker; my initial perception – that Aguero might have been a tad fortunate to make it – is partially backed up by that data. Dempsey has played very very well in a middling team, but then Demba Ba is part of a Newcastle side that might unexpectedly nab fourth place. He too, probably has every right to feel aggrieved.

    Rich – Have you seen the ’20 years since football was invented’ awards. Warren Barton as best right back anyone? Best match is particularly interesting – the lowest match aggregate is 5 goals – we don’t go in for defensive admiration do we?!

  2. There is, of course, a flaw with the WhoScored list – not one defender or goalkeeper. In fact, almost everyone is a striker or attacking midfielder, with a few exceptions of less attacking central midfielders.

    Which begs the question – is it possible to compare attacking players contributions with defenders contributions? Therefore, should they not have a more nuanced system – attacker of the year, midfielder of the year and defender of the year?

    1. interesting. Does that mean the best attackers stand out while the best defenders aren’t that much better than less good defenders? United replaced Vidic with Evans but couldn’t replace Rooney were they to lose him.

      1. I guess you could argue that good defending doesn’t lend itself to statistics. The best individual measure you might have is number of tackles made (or % that were successful), but then isn’t tackling only supposed to be a last resort if a side is truly great at defending (anticipation and reading of the game removing the need to tackle)? If so, how on earth do you measure good defending? Is it purely a qualitative perception if statistics aren’t able to show it?

        1. I agree – good defending means not doing anything! I guess they must have a ‘top down’ team level approach to get around this – I remember in the early days of Opta the worst teams’ defenders were always better rated for this very reason. So I would imagine that by now they’re well past this, but it’s a valid observation and one I’ll run by someone now.

      2. I do think there’s something to this. The space separating your best and worst Premiere League defenders is smaller than the space separating your best and worst attackers.

  3. Leave it up to Rich to inject a little reason and to show that, ok, maybe I am a *little* biased.

    But I’m still not totally convinced.

    Bale factoring in 17 goals vs Modric’s 7 doesn’t carry some weight? Modric is a superior passer, but in 31 app shouldn’t those passes be leading to more goals? Even Rooney ahead of RVP strikes me as upside down. Then again, is Rooney really without a yellow? Contest over, he’s arrived. Also agree that Ba’s absence seems strange.

    And Nasri ahead of our Texan? Oh, it’s just too much to bear. He doesn’t start half the matches, for starters.

    But maybe the algorithm is more sophisticated than I am, and I’m just not getting it, in which case I will concede defeat. Alex L’s solution is Solomon-like.

    1. I don’t know that you can just look at goals and assists, which only occur 2/3 times a game. So much else goes into a match and the central midfielders will be effectively running the game. Modric and Parker might not have the fancy numbers but I don’t know that there’s a better combo than them playing today.

      1. Well, yes. And Jonathan Wilson says goals are overrated, and I think I know what he’s getting at. But for a playmaker it seems like assists ought to be given some weight.

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