On paper it looks pretty horrendous.

Played five, conceded 15.

Quite a damning statistic in isolation, but, as the saying goes, “….there are lies, there are damned lies, and there are statistics”. Nevertheless, it’s a stat that taken out of context appears quite worrying for us.

I could bang on for several thousand words now about the lazy and misleading use of stats by pressurised hacks with agendas to pursue, but it’s enough simply to say that statistics are designed to show trends within groups and are irrelevant when they’re applied to individuals (it gets more interesting from now on I swear…!). They tell you nothing of the bigger picture in a game/season; how good the opposition were, what the weather was like, how fit the player and his teammates were, whether he was playing in a favoured position, whether the opposition had man-marked him etc., all of these things have a massive impact on stats and yet all we get is “player 1 completed X number of passes whereas player 2 created less. Player 1 is clearly better.”

Damien Comolli uses stats to identify potentially valuable players who can improve the team but he doesn’t trust them over extensive scouting reports and observations, rather he uses them as a start point when looking for new signings. In the same way we have to be careful not to read too much into our friendly results so far without looking at the reasons for our seemingly disastrous form. That’s what I’ll do then.

1) Line-up.

Look at the various combinations we’ve fielded so far and it’s clear that we haven’t been able to put out anywhere near our first choice line-up yet. Agger, Reina and Johnson for example are well off the pace having only started the season yesterday, Lucas and Suarez haven’t come back from holiday yet, our big signings Henderson, Downing and Adam are still settling in after only a few minutes together on the pitch, several other important first teamers haven’t played much, not to mention the youngsters thrown in for a bit of experience and the expendable players with huge ‘For Sale’ signs round their necks. Just go and look at our first choice line up last season, it was very different to all the teams we’ve put out so far.

2) Coaching setup.

Sammy Lee left the club just over a month ago and in his place came Steve Keen, a vastly experienced coach but one who will bring different methods and approaches to training. It’s bound to take a few weeks for the players to adjust and especially so given the points made above about the inconsistency of the line-up.

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