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Passing Up Opportunity - Or Just Joshing Around?


Dorset

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Football stats websites may not be to everyone’s taste, but after Swansea’s commanding performance against the Arse the table below [produced by thompsonontalkstactics] suddenly looks a lot more believable than it did when I came across it on prematch reading…

EUROPE'S TOP 10 ACCURATE PASSERS (%) :

1. Barcelona.......................89.2

2. Bayern Munich.............. 87

3. Man City........................86.2

4. Real Madrid...................85.8

5. Chelsea.........................85.5

6. SWANSEA.....................85.2

7. AC Milan.......................85.2

8. Roma............................84.9

9. ARSENAL.....................84.7

10. Tottenham..................84.6

Quite frankly, on reading this for the first time, you kind of get the impression that some fanatical Swans fan, probably called Dewi [Thompson] had found himself with a spare five minutes of upper case madness to kill and used it on a side-splittingly funny attempt at placing his favourite team amongst the big-boy passers of world football, thereby unashamedly interfering with the utmost serious side of internet statistical analysis. Well, passing yourself off in this way might lead to ridicule, but not after anyone had reviewed the obvious Dewi-eyed evidence provided by Brendan Rodger’s team, not only when playing against a side still striving to regain old glories, but also several others employing different tactics over the course of this season.

Indeed, such is the authenticity of the table (justifiably so after witnessing the transformation for myself) this Swanlike Bren-gunning down of the old passing guard now leads us to a more forensic search for truth from it and, for those of you wondering where the hell I am going with this particular topic, on to one particular observation about a Chelsea player dear to all our hearts.

First and foremost, however, if passing praise be Swansea’s for the taking, it has to be acknowledged that AVB has clearly got us moving in a similar direction and the usual suspects in the three places immediately above us in this list reflect the aspirations of both the rich, the famous and the fledgling as they strive to reach out to a recognised pinnacle that is Barcelona at its best. In these circumstances, the obvious question begging to be answered has to be - why, for the love of the Glazers, is the illustrious name of Manchester United nowhere to be seen?

Bucking a trend possibly, but were we not told by Ferguson last summer that Barcelona were the trendsetters to follow and United would be trying to do just that in the future? Not so, it would appear, and neither does it seem likely that King Kenny has been bitten by the passing bug either. Therefore, whilst City have Silva and an Italian managerial mindset, we have AVB’s philosophy (as yet unembellished by a chosen playmaker) Swansea have a Joe Allen-induced rhythm to their passing game, so are we to assume that United and Liverpool have opted out, or do they still have unshakeable faith in alternative cat-skinning methods dependent on the Little Peas and Stevie G‘s of this world?

Next up [hopefully not] when looking at the Premiership contenders in the top ten we have the teams propping up rest and here we see clear evidence of Wenger’s declining influence after years of passing percentage in its pomp. Yep, Harry’s on his heels too, although how much effect Luca Modric has in keeping this race tight will only be known in the closing stages, when Le Prof nears another winning post without a Plan B and Redknapp approaches it for the first time knowing full well that just being placed will be a personal milestone.

And finally full circle, back to AVB and what we all hope will be a transitional period where our passing game improves to the extent that quantity and accuracy translates into quality and goals. The Boas loves to talk about the vertical pass, as opposed to the horizontal, with a killer one of those being worth umpteen of the square variety, never mind their percentage accuracy. Swansea are current living Premiership proof that accuracy pales into insignificance compared to the scoring of the goal as an end product and a quality defence-splitting passer need only make a few on a regular basis to soon become indispensable, once the created chances are taken. How else can you explain the euphoria sweeping the Media at present when the boyos from the black [coal] stuff sit in mid-table on a paltry -2 goals difference tally, yet are praised to the rooftops for a single directional element within the game’s compass that, in their particular case, doesn’t appear to amount to much more than a pleasing aspect within a promising squad….except, of course, when the process contrives to dump on the very team that’s dined out on the same glowing reference point for years without any meaningful return.

And that’s why a loan move to the Welsh club could easily be the making of Josh McEachran. Not because he can help improve upon that 85.2% statistic, but because a sudden rise in Swan goals scored over the next few months would highlight the telling improvement he could make to their team as a whole in the short term and as an eventual permanent fixture with ours in the long. Let’s face it, every Chelsea fan that prays for Josh to break through into the first team does so for two very good reasons - he is a home grown English talent and he has the potential ability to be the deadliest passer of a ball we’ve had in our ranks for many a year. My only worry is that going abroad to experience the new passing heaven firsthand might result in a paradise lost…in more ways than one.

 

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