Wednesday, March 18, 2015

If it's not schaden, it's not freude.

Let's do this again, because if a cute girl in glasses says so, I feel like it has to be true. Now that the 'perfect deal' Sunderland boss Gus Poyet struck to grab Jermain Defoe in exchange for Jozy Altidore has had a couple of months to take root, we can go to the math and see just how much of a 'different club' they've blossomed into... ahem.

Just to remind, the Black Cats scored one goal every 66.8 minutes when the US striker was on the field in Premier League play, or 1.34 goals per 90 minutes of action with Altidore. They were even considerably more "prolific" if we include cup play minutes, but we will stayed settled on the Prem from this angle.

After Defoe scored a couple of goals in his first four games, those who will not see danced around my Sunderland math to further proclaim Altidore the poorest excuse ever for a player and the team was now free to shine and so on. Since then, Defoe has gone six games without a goal and the Sunderland game on the ball has regressed even further from the curious shambles of the Jozy era.

In eight league games since the swap, Sunderland are 1-4-3, with but five goals scored (or 0.63 per 90 minutes). They have scored just once in the last 588 minutes of play, and that strike did not come from any of their forwards. Speaking of Steven Fletcher and Connor Wickham, they have combined for all of one goal in those eight games (and none in the three cup games over this span).

In those eight games, Sunderland created five chances or fewer four times. They managed 76 shot attempts, with 29 of them coming from at least 24 (and up to nearly 40) yards from goal. The tactically clueless or unwilling midfielders and wingers have failed to bust 45% possession in four of those games, making it no surprise that the teams leading assist man this season is a newcomer left back that has missed 10 games to injury. No surprise, either, that he (Patrick van Aanholt) is Dutch... but I digress from that artery of discussion.

Across all competitions, the Black Cats have been shut out six times in 11 games - including home games against Fulham, QPR and Aston Villa. They were also shut out at League One Bradford City after having bumbled their way to the FA Cup sweet 16. The forward stable has barely even looked like scoring since January ended. Poyet actually positioned Fletcher out wide in a live game, because apparently that counted as a solution idea.

Hell, the manager managed to enact a system that has worked to generously grant savior Defoe (who, mind you, spent years upon years scoring once every 196 minutes of EPL play before arriving at Sunderland)) a whopping sum of 21.5 non-defensive touches per game. And Defoe has created only two chances for teammates in eight games. Altidore did that once every 77 minutes of EPL time. The American also easily wins the aerial comparison (4.73 air duel wins per 90 minutes to Defoe's 0.13). You may say, gosh, that is a dumb comparison, but Poyet has often used Defoe as the No. 9 lone striker. 

Oh, they are a different club alright. There is dumb, and then there is dumberer.

It sure looks as though Toronto FC and MLS swindled Sunderland harder than I had originally estimated. While so many want to believe that Altidore was the main problem with Sunderland, the statistical needle sure leans toward my consistent view that his tenure there was more a case of Sunderland being the main problem with Altidore.

Meanwhile, Poyet was fiiiiiiinally axed this week and the Black Cats are reportedly in talks with Dutch guy Dick Advocaat. Will wonders never cease?




- Greg Seltzer

18 comments:

William Anderson said...

The responsible party to this entire debacle is Jozy Altidore's agent. The money may have been good, but Sunderland were a dumpster fire before, during, and after he was signed to the northeast club.

Proper representation would have never allowed that particular move to take place.

justinwkoehn said...

Maybe the Agent was honest and upfront about the risks (trying to keep a straight face here) but Jozy decided to take the bigger pay day instead. It's interesting that he went to a club like TFC as well, also being a dumpster fire in MLS...but maybe that was his only viable out from Sunderland at the time.

Chris said...

I knew this article would eventually come. And I'm glad it did. And yes it's schadenfreude.

Greg, did we ever figure out the figures involved in this deal? How much did Sunderland pay, exactly, to lose a decent striker and hold up man in Altidore and receive an over the hill player who relies on speed and good service (hahaha....) who they will pay absurd wages to for the next three years?

brian said...

chris that over the hill player already bested jozy's numbers for sunderland in the short month or 2 he's been there. and absurd wages?.. he is actually scoring goals, and getting assitst, something their previous striker failed at. I'd say he's earning those wages.

Matt said...

I still think Jozy should have done a better job of seeing that Sunderland was the wrong place for him. Perhaps the money was too good to turn down, and I'd have no issue with that, but it was a truly silly career move, even though it seems like he's moving on just fine.

Greg Seltzer said...

@ brian:

He has bested *one* number: EPL goals scored. Nothing else.

The team is possessing less then before, creating even less than before, shooting less, scoring less and gaining fewer points.

brian said...

and as striker the number one stat that matters?? thats right goals scored. when you gotta dig that deep in the stats to defend your guy, you know somethings not right. and how many more games played does jozy have for sunderland than defoe?

Greg Seltzer said...

Wait a minute.... team goals scored per 90 minutes is digging deep into stats? Points gained per game? Is that super deep cut nerd stuff, too?

And how many more EPL games has Defoe played in his career? About 300 more? Nuh huh.

And let us just remind that I never said Altidore excelled at Sunderland. All along, I repeatedly criticized his play and repeatedly declared that he was playing below his capability. The point I have repeatedly made is that they were and have been playing significantly worse than him. The point I make ov er and over is that no strikers short of Messi, C-Ron, Zlatan and Suarez can score well there, because the team behind them is a tactical joke and the manager was a joke. The point I am making is that he was not their big problem; it was much more that they were his big problem.

This was never a, "HEY Jozy is playing well" campaign. It has always been a "shit, what do you expect in that team besides scapegoatery?" campaign.

brian said...

i mean those stats could be relevant for a defender or midfielder. but for a striker, whose main priority is to score goals. theres really only need for the one stat, goals scored. and i said games played at sunderland, not his entire EPL career. Where is DIK when you need him....

brian said...

and i agree, sunderland are shit and very few strikers could succeed there, but stop making excuses for altidore.

Greg Seltzer said...

Goals is the *only* stat that matters with a striker? Since when?

Besides, if that is the case, maybe you should go tell that to Sunderland. They seem to think the main purposes of a striker are going 1 v 6 after somehow pulling down a terrible long ball and shielding the rest of the team from blame as the easy target.

Greg Seltzer said...

Oh... and I am not making excuses for Altidore, any more than I am making excuses for Fletcher, Wickham, Defoe, Gyan and all the other strikers they have ruined since Bent went nuts one year on top of an actual midfield. I am talking about real, actual stuff - with scientific evidence in support - to demonstrate that Sunderland had this same exact "problem with strikers" before Altidore got there and the still have it now that he is gone, no matter how many times their coach announces they finally have a proper striker to explode the attack. The strikers - all of them - are not even slightly the problem there.

Paul Poenicke said...

Agreeing with Greg here. Usually one might say the only stat that counts for strikers is the goal tally. Especially for a targetman, a striker whose job is to control and hold the ball for other attackers, these other stats are germane and significant. Brian McBride had a decent goal scoring record; his main impact on the US, and why he will always be remembered as a great US striker, is how well the team played while he was on the pitch, controlling the ball in the box and using his touch to distribute to other players.

Tom Shenk said...

Goals are the most important thing for a striker, positionally speaking, but as a player on a team, wins and points earned are the most important stats.

Since, Defoe was brought in and viewed expressly as an upgrade over Altidore the benchmark isn't just goals scored, it is how well the team does with Jermaine as a replacement for Jozy. Especially when you consider that Defoe has tons of EPL experience and thus should be able to jump right in and make a difference, the point is that not even Defoe could make this team any better and in a broad sense at least may actually have made the team worse.

Make of that what you will.

Dany Tzvi said...

looks like somebody missed out on the total football revolution of the 1970s. let me catch you up to speed: players fill multiple capacities, they have multiple jobs, and at the end of the day all that matters is the final result for the team.

jermaine defoe, in 8 games, has done *nothing* aside from those two goals. he is not winning balls, he is not receiving or completing passes, he is dead weight.

if you actually watched the games, you could see... when altidore played, he was very involved in the buildup of a lot of their goals. defoe is not involved in any buildup whatsoever. at the end of the day, you have to actually watch the games to understand. otherwise, dont be so opinionated.

brian said...

danny boy - if jozy was so consistantly involved why did he struggle to get minutes?

Greg Seltzer said...

He only struggled for minutes this season after getting a late preseason start due to his WC injury. He easily led all their strikers in minutes played last season.

Greg Seltzer said...

Oh, and last season Sunderland scored 41 goals and 38 points in 38 EPL games.

This season, they have scored 23 and have 26 points in 29 games, clearly inferior ratios.