Just over a year ago, I introduced Jörg Siedel’s GoalImpact model to the readers of Differentgame. Well, it’s World Cup time and Jörg is back.
GoalImpact (GI) simply measures a player’s team’s goal difference when that player is on the field. The following factors are then taken into account to give a final score:
- the players alongside him in his team
- the strength of the opposing team
- whether he has home advantage
- whether red cards have been shown to either side
To make the rating more understandable it is transformed to a scale where the average player score is 100. Jörg states a world class rating is anything at 150 or above. In the last list of the world’s best players by GI, Ronaldo was on top with a rating of 195.
So what would the England team look like for the World Cup if selected by GI? Like this:
Since our original piece it’s noticeable that the GIs for a lot of these players is on the slide. The shine has rapidly come off the Golden Generation and the team’s GI as a whole is a lot weaker than it was just a year ago. This ties in with what are eyes have told us. However, there is one exception. Wayne Rooney has gained ground in the last year, and is near his all time peak despite Manchester United’s travails this season. According to GI, Rooney is world class and is the only England player available for selection that is so.
I’ve chosen to start him on the left in this set up. Rooney is one of England’s biggest shot monsters and I think this is the best way to get him facing and running at goal in order to get shots off. I also like one wide man inverted and cutting inside, while the other (Lennon in this case) goes outside and tries to get to the byline. Two going outside just encourages too many hopeful crosses and two inverted often causes congestion in the middle.
I feel one of England’s biggest failings over the years has been each and every manager’s refusal to have Rooney in tandem with Gerrard. With this in mind, I’ve put the Slipmeister General (Everton fan klaxon) as the furthest forward central midfielder. Again, it gets the player in good areas for shots, and gets him away from any major defensive duties. As per, Gerrard’s set pieces will be a main source of goal threat for England.
Up front, I like Sturridge’s pace, movement and greed. It doesn’t seem likely that England will dominate play against Italy or Uruguay so it’s important to have a striker who gets shots off at every opportunity. Sturridge is that man, and Rooney and Gerrard are the players to feed him.
It’s hard to make an argument for GIs selection of Lennon – he just doesn’t look good enough at this moment in time. I feel Walcott is such a big miss for England – especially in the kind of quick, counter-attacking set-up I’d have the team in. Common sense suggests Raheem Sterling (96) would be the ideal replacement for Walcott in order to team up with Liverpool team-mates Gerrard and Sturridge. I’d envision all the front 4 rotating for fluidity. That said, Gerrard’s legs almost certainly wouldn’t last 90 mins. This is where I’d like to see the likes of Lallana (119), Osman (98) and Barkley (87) brought in as attacking substitutes late in the game. In attack then, only Walcott’s injury prevents GIs 4 selections being the 4 I’d pick myself.
GIs midfield two, Carrick and Lampard, appear to be the kind of ‘safe’ selection that Roy Hodgson actually has in mind. The two I’d have, Barry (114) and Henderson (121) are actually the next ones on GIs list. Barry’s had a great season at Goodison while Carrick’s had a less than stellar one at OT. Barry will always be Özil-scarred for life in fans’ minds (despite the fact he was still recovering from injury in that tournament) but I like having a left footed player in there for balance. Carrick has the edge in the passing department but Barry’s short game is also good. He also has the required cynicism to do the right thing if caught out of position and provides more of a goal threat too.
Henderson has come on in leaps and bounds under Brendan Rodger’s tutelage. Used to best effect as a wide midfielder at Sunderland, he looked woefully short whenever moved inside at England U21 level and early days at Anfield. That all seems a long time ago now and promise is being fulfilled. Henderson’s energy would also provide an antidote to Barry’s trundling style. @mixedknuts did a nice piece on the all new Jordan earlier this year.
Before I move onto the defence it’s worth actually posting up my preferred XI:
Draw a diagonal line across the pitch from the top left hand corner flag to the bottom right one, and you see some great club links. Man City and Everton on the left and Liverpool on the right. I think this is huge. We always hear complaints that there’s never enough time to get things gelling at international level – there’s no real excuse for looking disjointed in this set up.
Baines has never been used ‘properly’ for England. Everyone knows he’s at his best going forward. I’ve ceased to bother counting the number of times he’s made an overlap, waving his hand (look at me) in acres of space, only to be ignored with the ball going into tight spots in central areas of the field instead. He’s never had a decent partner in front of him either. Rooney has the brains and ability to get the most out of Baines and will also cut inside to give the full back room to go. Lescott and Barry have played with Baines countless times and know exactly how to cover his forays. Lescott gets a bad press from almost everyone these days, and has looked dodge in certain partnerships for England. However, he was rock solid next to Jagielka at Everton and the pair have been outstanding when partnered together for the national side.
On the right side we have the Liverpool connection. It goes without saying how well these players have played in tandem this season – especially in quick transitions. Can Rooney join in with them to be England’s Suarez? Don’t laugh.
In The Telegraph, Jonathan Liew, wrote a great piece on coaches picking too many defenders for a World Cup squad rather than giving themselves more options in midfield and attack. I picked my 23 with this very much in mind.
Here are my back ups (Forster would be my No.3 keeper – Ruddy stinks the gaff out in my goalkeeping model and my eyes agree with it):
After much internal debate I’ve gone for Osman over Oxlade-Chamberlain (109). The Arsenal youngster hasn’t played much this season, and I think Osman just brings some much needed calmness and brains to proceedings. The Everton midfielder also has the touch of a feather and the perceived slower pace of International football suits him. Carroll is simply included to be wheeled on for any late set-piece desperation.
For the record, here’s the full GI 23 of the players available (using Liew’s ‘as few defenders as possible’ approach):
Forster, Hart, Foderingham
Johnson, Cole, Baines, Dawson, Lescott, Jagielka
Gerrard, Carrick, Lampard, Barry, Henderson, Wilshere, Young, Lennon, Milner, Lallana
Rooney, Sturridge, Welbeck, Martin
‘Martin? Who’s Martin?’ I hear the Premier League masses cry. That’ll be Derby County’s Chris Martin. He’s had a whopping year in the Championship scoring 20 goals and assisting another 8. He’s averaged far less shots per game than his peers in that division which might suggest a fair bit of fortune this year. Checking with fellow ExpG bod @colinttrainor over at Statsbomb, however, reveals only a slight over-performance with a set of shots worth 18 goals. Martin gets on the end of things in dangerous areas.
(UPDATE 12th May) It’s now a moot point as today Martin was called up by Scotland for the first time. His father was born in Scotland and young Christopher is therefore is able to represent the Tartan Army.
The average GI of Jörg’s optimal England XI is 134. Mine is 126. Either way, this beats the GIs of all England’s group opponents. Italy’s average is 123 and its best players are all from Juventus – Buffon (149), Chiellini (134), Bonucci (124) and Pirlo (123). This suggests a strong defensive unit and cool arrogance in midfield. It’s cliche bingo time for this European stalwart.
Uruguay are rated a tiny bit higher at 124. Top bods are Suarez (144), Benfica right back Maxi Pereira (136), Jorge Fucile (128) another full back and Atletico Madrid’s centre back Diego Godin (123). Solid and uncompromising at the back, tricksy up front? It’s cliche bingo time for this South American stalwart.
Costa Rica (109) should really be the group whipping boys. Its best player by GI is Everton’s Bryan Oviedo (115) but he’s just about walking after breaking his leg. Other ‘top’ players are Cristian Gamboa (112) a defender at Rosenborg, Esteban Granados (110) – try finding anything about him on Google – and Arsenal youngster Joel Campbell (110) on loan at Olimpiacos – the chap who gave United a Champions League scare back in February.
Basically, England can be seen as GI favourites for this group. However, it’s close so you may as well just blindly pick any two from the big three to go through. In that way it’ll be exciting. The actual football played might not be unless England really can get their transitions from defence to attack going like Liverpool have this season. It’s a big ask.
Disagree with any GI or Differentgame picks? You probably do, so get commenting below or Tweeting your opinions – it’s that time of year. Follow @GoalImpact on Twitter and take a look at the full website here. It’s great, it really is.
Follow me @footballfactman on Twitter.