Post 56

Spurs 3 AFC Wimbledon 0

The world’s 3rd Most Valuable Player notched 2 more goals as Spurs dispatched a spirited Wimbledon in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. We have now been drawn to play away at Newport County in the 4th Round. It’s a shame for Newport’s club (financially) and their players (for the Wembley experience) that we weren’t drawn at home.

After Kane’s double, the Wimbledon match was notable for that rare sighting, a Jan Vertonghen goal. Spurs recovered the ball about 30 yards from Wimbledon’s goal via a 3-man press. Jan moved forward and struck a thunderous left-footer that deflected past their keeper into the far top-corner. Because it was our 3rd, the celebrations were sadly more muted than they might have been for a Jan goal. My family had mixed feelings. We’ve always wanted Jan to save his goal for the final minute of the Champions League final !

Meanwhile, CIES’ Football Observatory has named Kane as the 3rd most valuable player in the world (‘top 5 European leagues’) using a combination of age, position played, performance, contract duration and ‘international status’.

The values are in millions of Euros; 1st Neymar (213), 2nd Messi (202), 3rd Kane (195), 4th Mbappe (193), 5th Dybala (175), 6th Dele (171). The four remaining top 10 players are De Bruyne, Lukaku, Griezmann and Pogba.

Whatever else the list is – kudos to Kane and Dele – it’s a tribute to our Chairman. Spurs have 2 players in the Top 10. PSG and Man United are the only other clubs with 2 in the Top 10 (Neymar and Mbappe, Lukaku and Pogba). Spurs paid £5m for theirs. PSG and United paid many, many times that sum to sign their own pairs. Of course, we are lucky that Kane is “one of our own”. But other chairmen and managers would have sold him during one of his many loan spells.  Or failed to tie the world’s best goal machine down to a long contract. We’re equally lucky that our £5m risk on Dele came good. But you can only win the lottery if you buy a ticket. That’s what Levy and Poch did.

Of course, the CIES list is only a statistical analysis. Football is ‘art’ not ‘science’. There’s room for data, XG ratios, and now VAR, but nobody will ever convince me that a Cruyff turn, a Maradona swivel, a Rabona, a career like Pele’s, Messi in full flow, or a Hoddle pass, are anything else but art. Or at least ‘sport as art’. Fleeting moments of magic that live forever in the memories of those who saw them.

You can stick a GPS on a player’s back and a syringe in his arm and measure, weigh and evaluate his movement, fitness and health. Numbers will tell you where and how fast he’s run or what his blood sugar levels are. Even shots, tackles, assists and goals can only tell you so much. FIFA 18 played out in real life.

But the 10 per cent that can’t be measured, put in a test tube and analysed in a so-called Football Observatory. That’s the 10 per cent that only the player himself, his teammates on the pitch and the fans in the stands can see. Mackay’s heart, Keane’s aggression, Best’s demons, Berbatov’s nonchalance, Kane’s relentlessness and De Bruyne’s vision. And, at the other end of the scale, those whose limited commitment, lack of courage or journeyman skills will only allow them to attain a certain level.

Eriksen ranked 29th in the list (98m), Dier 35th, (93m), Son 56th (73m), Sanchez 64th (69m) and Alderweireld 93rd (53m). So Spurs have 7 players in the Top 100.

 Looking at the list, I have a feeling that if Chairmen were evaluated by CIES’ Football Observatory, Daniel Levy would be MVC.


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