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Helping Hands 2011/2012 08/05/2012

Posted by Matt Rowson in Thoughts about things.
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Here we are again.

As a prelude, I should emphasise that I find defining a player’s value on the basis of a statistic, or even a set of statistics, utterly abhorrent.  It’s a bit like pretending that a musical score is as beautiful as the music performed, or explaining the beauty of a summer morning by quantifying the temperature and wind speed.

So, perhaps not desirable.  Not terribly effective either.  Think about defining a striker in terms of goals scored, perhaps the simplest, most pertinent summary of any (subset of) players’ performance.  Even then you need to qualify through games played, a strike “rate” if you like.  But even when comparing players at the same club, that figure doesn’t account for how the player was used, which sides they were selected against and who they partnered, who was injured, who else was on form.  Scott Fitzgerald scored 10 goals in 28+16 league appearances in 2003/04, Danny Graham 14 in 37+9 six seasons later.  A similar strike rate, but the backstory could hardly be more different – Fitzgerald, a poacher with astonishing acceleration who contributed nothing elsewhere on the pitch, Danny Graham through his movement, workrate, awareness, a vital cog even when he wasn’t scoring.

The more so for any other statistic you could choose to summarise.  “Assists”, for example.  So… not desirable, not effective.  But not completely irrelevant either.  the trick with this as any stat is knowing where to draw the line, knowing how not to overinterpret.

Because despite all the qualifiers above and despite having heard this mentioned at various points during the season, it’s pretty extraordinary to note Mark Yeates’ contribution in this respect.  The more so when you note that all 11 assists came by the 7th January, although admittedly his involvement was more spasmodic as the season progressed.  The Scott Fitzgerald of lumping crosses in, perhaps?  Without being harsh on Mark, it’s difficult to reconcile this table with the popular evaluation of his contribution.

Only a little less surprising is Marvin Sordell’s elevated position.  Not a deliverer of set pieces, unlike Yeates, he nonetheless racked up 7 assists over a similar period rather disputing the occasional suggestion of selfishness in assessments of the young striker’s contribution.  Circumstances, form, whatever… Bolton’s scant use of their January recruit remains a little surprising.

Less of a surprise altogether is Sean Murray’s prominence despite only breaking into the side at the end of January.  Immediately significant in creating and scoring goals, giving us a terrifyingly reliable delivery from set pieces and a bit of devil around the box as well as contributing a healthy number of goals himself, every Hornet will be hoping he tops this table next season.

At the opposite extreme, a number of players with surprisingly limited contribution.  Michael Kightly only weighing in with one, a simple lay-off for Carl Dickinson’s blockbuster against Bristol City – perhaps illustrating the limit to the value of the statistic perfectly, since nobody would question the value of the winger’s contribution.

Chris Iwelumo and Jonathan Hogg are two who didn’t manage an assist between them;  Iwelumo’s contribution is often in the number of defenders he drags around with him, nonetheless it’s a little surprising that he didn’t set up a single goal in the season just gone, whilst Hogg, astonishingly, managed neither a goal nor an assist from virtually a full season in central midfield and yet, one assumes, did rather well in the Player of the Season voting despite not making the top three.  Perhaps he needs a change in squad number – the only goal in the 32 drifts ever longer into the past…

Assists Apps Gls Assists vs
Yeates 11 30+6 3 Rdg (A), Bar (A), HuC (A), HuC (A), PeU (H), Por (H), BrC (H), Ips(A), DoR (H), BfC (H), BfC (H)
Sordell 7 28+1 10 Bur (A), Bur (A), BiC (H), PeU (H), LeU (H), CaC (H), BfC (H)
Murray 6 18+1 7 Bar (H), NoF (A), LeC (H), Bur (H), LeU (A), CaC (A)
Kacaniklic 4 11+1 1 Mwl (A), Mwl (A), DeC (A), DeC (A)
Deeney 4 31+15 12 DoR (H), Rdg (H), LeU (A), Mbo (H)
Eustace 3 37+5 4 BfC (H), LeC (H), HuC (H)
Garner 2 15+9 1 Bar (H), Bur (H)
Forsyth 2 17+5 5 BrR (A), Mbo (H)
Buaben 2 22+10 1 PeU (H), BHA (A)
Weimann 1 3 0 BiC (H)
Kightly 1 11+1 3 BrC (h)
Hodson 1 20 0 DoR (h)
Dickinson 1 40+1 2 BrC (a)
James 0 0+1 0
Whichelow 0 0+3 0
Massey 0 0+4 0
Trotta 0 1 0
Bennett 0 1+1 0
Bond 0 1+1 0
Walker 0 1+1 0
Beattie 0 1+3 1
Assombalonga 0 2+2 0
Gilmartin 0 3 0
Mirfin 0 4+1 0
Jenkins 0 4+5 0
Kuszczak 0 13 0
Taylor 0 20+2 1
Iwelumo 0 21+18 4
Loach 0 32 0
Nosworthy 0 34 2
Doyley 0 36 0
Mariappa 0 40+2 1
Hogg 0 41 0

Check out the 2010-112009-102008-09 and 2007-08 equivalents for details of what “qualifies” as an assist by my reckoning.

The annual “School Report” feature follows shortly…

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