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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"You only have to look at the state of his nose to realise these things are part of a centre half's career."

There must have been rejoicing all through the Midlands last night as Bruce's Bums were spared yet another embarrassment by the encroaching fog. According to the bookies, the likelihood of a Brum victory over Sam's Septuagenarians was about the same as the chance Steve's nose would straighten itself out by the end of 90 minutes. At least the Other Blues will have a chance this weekend against Mick's Muppets.

On the bright side of a cloudy situation, we were treated to a preview of what it might look like when two of English football's old campaigners finally walk towards the pearly nets of football heaven.

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Word comes from Somewhat Aristocratic Madrid that Raul has a complex knee injury that could keep him out for months. Back when the onetime Gran Esperanza Blanca of Spanish football was about 21, an intractable Madrid supporter (is there any other kind?) put the following proposition to TDH: at that particular moment, there was no more valuable player in football.

This particular supporter being an economist, he meant "valuable" in present-value terms, i.e. the amount a player was worth in expectation over his remaining useful life. Back then, TDH had a little trouble thinking of a counterexample. Certainly Zidane merited a shout for his reliability - fewer years left, yet more trophy-earning potential - but there weren't many others who could compare, given what we knew then.

The question has more possible answers today. Wine Hrooney, Prince Robson, Messidona and even - on the same logic as for Zidane - L'il Ron the Cowboy must figure in our calculations. Are we living in a new golden age, or is it merely that the hype machine has gone into high gear?

Regardless, Raul's story has been marred by disappointments, if not always for Madrid then certainly for Spain. Perhaps the systems he played under didn't fit his complex gifts. Looking back, there was a young Ukrainian playing in Kiev whom TDH would have wanted instead.

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For each TDH question, of course, there is an equal and opposite TDH question. (This is, after all, a Newtonian blog. Here's the hard-working author of the original print version of TDH, then called the Principia Pedorbis.)

So, who offered the least value for money back then? With hindsight, that player was surely Winston Bogarde. TDH was determined not to let the retirement of Signor Downbeat pass without mention. For the Dingbat Swooner was the epitome of the useless twit, rarely managing to make Chelsea's bench while somehow taking home as much as 9 million pounds in wages. The Boasting Wonder claimed while at Stamford Bridge that there were no outside offers for his services - not that he sought any - and insisted to the end that he could still have taken the pitch, even after more than a year out of action. It probably would have been better if the Browned Agonist had shut up and moved somewhere very far away... like, say, Serbian Dogtown.

2 Comments:

Blogger the Maradona of Malawi said...

hindsight is a beautiful thing. It was only after Kiev stormed to the semi-finals of the CL that said Ukrainian was snapped up by the Rossoneri. Even then, two frankly ludicrous opinions claimed that it was a poor by. The first and more defensible was that Weah had a few years left in him. The second was that Rebrov was the real motor for Kiev's success. No further comment necessary.

Re: the current player with the highest NPV - surely the answer must be Freddy Adu? Huge potential, million dollar smile, massive hometown market - what more could one want?

Its certainly true that the hype machine is out of control these days - whatever happened to Diego, partner of Robinho. He was supposed to be the new Pele, while Robson was meant to be Garrincha? Porto are not best pleased with his form. Messidona could be an exception, given how quickly he's established himself at Barca.

11:15 AM  
Blogger The American Geordie said...

Having seen Freddy Adu play, at the DC United match mentioned earlier, I have to say the lad has a ways to go.

He's quick on the ball and has some nice moves, as well as a powerful shot. But he's small. Tiny. Before he moves to Europe, he'll have to put on some muscle and solve the problem of being pushed off the ball before he gets a chance to showcase his skills.

He seems to be doing a bit better this year, but more playing time might would help - as no less a personage than Michael "The Original Goldenboots" Johnson has suggested. It seems MLS are so carefully trying to coddle Adu that he's being left on the bench with alarming frequency.

Now, I'm not sure he's ready to be in the World Cup squad - a goal he himself has declared - but if he can't get a game in MLS, what are they paying him for?

3:47 PM  

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