## Goalkeeper Mishmash

So one of the comments on my previous post about goalkeepers talked about how the relegated teams (Wolves, Bolton and Blackburn) had the worst keepers. So I wondered how they would have done had they had better goalies. I’ve still not figured out how to correlate a goalie’s distribution success to goals scored and so I’ll simply stick to shot stopping criteria.

I use the ratio of big chances to goals in each game to figure out how a different goalkeeper would have reacted. So if I have a goalie with a 90% shot-stopping ability and the opposing team has 10 big chances in the game, then I concede 1 goal. However, if my goalie has a 50% stopping ability I let in 5.

Based on the shot-stopping success ratio of each goalkeeper and the number of big chances faced by each team in each game, I have estimated the number of goals the team would have let in in each game. Comparing this against goals scored, I have come up with a hypothetical points tally for the season.

I know I abuse excel graphics a lot but I couldn’t think of any non-excel method to present the data here. I paired each goalie who played at least 1000 minutes during the season with each team and estimated how many points the team would have raked up.

Some pertinent observations.

1. The teams on whom the quality of goalie had the most impact are Arsenal, Blackburn, Wigan and Wolves. This goes to show how much Arsenal have to credit Sczsesny for their ability to reach the Champions’ League.

2. Everton is the team where the maximum and minimum possible points due to change in goalie is minimum (4, opposed to 14 for Arsenal). Shows that they have a pretty compact and tight defence, and what stops them from a top four slot is the quality of attack.

3. Due to the low number of big chances that occur in each game and due to rounding of goals conceded, you see some kind of a discontinuity in scores as you go down the list, as well as lots of ties. There is no mistake in the data or the calculations.

4. Manchester United has a much lower “goalkeeper impact” than Manchester City. With a lesser goalie than Joe Hart, it is unlikely City would have won the title.

5. Since we use overall averages of a goalie’s shot stopping ability, these simulations show different numbers for “real” goalie-team pairs than what the teams actually achieved.

6. The difference in maximum and minimum possible points as a function of a goalkeeper is a good indication of the overall quality of a team’s defense. The table below ranks the teams as per quality of defense.

7. While Blackburn and Wolves both had poor defence, part of Bolton’s relegation blame can be attributed to the quality (or otherwise) of their goalkeepers (Adam Bogdan and Juusi Jaaskaleinen). Which makes it even more surprising that West Ham (upon re-entry to the Premier League) sold Robert Green (to QPR, where he warms the bench) and recruited Jaaskaleinen in his place.

8. Last season, Liverpool had a pretty good defence (especially their first-choice back four of Johnson-Skrtel-Agger-Enrique). Their attacking ability (and especially their finishing – same story this season) let them down badly.

## Redundancy in movies

I’m writing this while watching this Hindi movie called Cocktail, which is being shown on the pay-per-view Showcase channel on Tata Sky. Ten minutes after the movie started, I remembered this review of the movie that I’d read back when I was released, and thanks to that lost most interest in the movie. However, I continue watching, giving company to the wife, and reading papers and writing, as I watch.

The last Hindi movie I watched with any degree of seriousness was Gangs of Wasseypur (1 and 2), which is an absolutely mindblowing movie. While watching that movie, I remember that time moved insanely slowly. After what I thought was an hour of the movie, I looked at my watch only to realize that only half an hour had passed. Each part of the movie (which actually lasts about two and half hours each) felt like it individually lasted five hours! There was so much action that was packed into the movie.

So coming to the point of the post – the problem with most Hindi movies (not of the GoW variety) is that there is heavy redundancy packed into the movie. Each concept that ties into the main plot of the movie is explained so many times, most times not even through different means, that it is quite easy to miss a part of the movie and still be clued in to the overall plot. Not so with the GoW type, where there is absolutely no redundancy built in, because of which you can’t afford to miss even a couple of minutes of the movie, without losing part of the overall plot.

If you were to read Benoit Mandelbrot’s excellent book on the financial markets (The (mis)behaviour of markets), you would be introduced to this awesome concept of “trading time”. In the book, Mandelbrot explains that markets are not uniform – there are times when there is much more action packed into the markets (like the first and last fifteen minutes of trading every day) than in slower times (mostly around mid-day). Thus, to get a better analysis of the market, Mandelbrot explains, you need to look at it not from the point of view of “clock time” but from the point of view of “trading time”, which “measures time” by way of volume of trade.

Drawing an analogy, a movie like Gangs of Wasseypur is like a snapshot of the financial market during the opening 15 minutes of trading. At every moment in the movie, there is so much happening. Scenes are short, and cut abruptly, and say only what absolutely needs to be said. So you get much more “action” for each minute you spend watching the movie.

(Ok I realize that by repeating the funda in the previous paragraph, this post tends more towards Cocktail than GoW.) Maybe that’s why I don’t particularly enjoy most movies that I watch – there is so much redundancy I get bored. Problem with most mango people is that it takes too much mindspace to be focused through the duration of the movie, so they end up losing parts of the plot in movies such as GoW, and so movies such as these are not as commercially successful as slower paced movies.

Upendra’s Super is a funny movie, in terms of the pace at which it moves. The first two hours are full of theatrics, and unnecessary redundancy that makes you ask why you are watching the movie at all. The last half an hour, both in terms of content and the concept it gets across (property rights, concept of ownership, etc.) packs in so much that you leave the hall feeling satisfied. Maybe the two parts of the movie are aimed at different segments and Uppi seems to have cracked the formula!

## On reliably asking for help

Last evening while I was trying to teach the wife to ride a geared motorcycle, a middle-aged woman accosted us. She told us that she was a teacher from Hiriyur (Chitradurga district) and had lost all her money and needed help for her bus charge to go back to town. This sounded suspiciously similar to the couple from Nagpur with a similar story that I’ve encountered a few times, and so I told her off, rather rudely I must say.

She seemed to be taken aback, and hurled some curses on me as she walked away, and then my wife pointed out that there were some things about this woman’s story that made it sound genuine. So now I wonder (given that it is a finite possibility that I might be stuck in an unknown city without money) what one needs to do in order to reliably ask for monetary help – given that fraudsters abound (if I had been convinced that this woman wasn’t a fraud I would’ve helped her out, so let’s take that as a given).

Here are some points that I can quickly think of:

• Location – would you think someone who would come to you in a residential area (Jayanagar) where not too many people were walking around, and ask for help if they really wanted money? Wouldn’t they rather try at bus stops, or even get on to buses and try get the ticket off a conductor or a fellow-passenger? Or considering that this lady had to make an inter-city journey, wouldn’t it be more reliable for her to have somehow got to the bus stand and asked someone there?
• Persistence – after I’d told this woman off, she just kept hanging around, and refused to go after I told her in no uncertain terms that I’m not helping her out. Wouldn’t you expect people who are really in need to be more rational and try and look for other sources rather than hanging on to the one person she sees on the street?
• What you ask for – again ties back to the first point that it might be easier to convince people to buy you a ticket than give you money. Or if you were to walk up to a shop and ask to use their landline phone? (mobile doesn’t work, since that’s a well-known method of swindling mobiles; was once tried on me in Bombay)
• Abuses – when you are really in need, and someone doesn’t help you out, you don’t loudly abuse them when you go. You’d rather quietly slink away and try your luck elsewhere .

I must say that the woman was rather “respectably dressed”, and before she started abusing she spoke “good Kannada”. It’s just that I wasn’t convinced she wasn’t a fraud so didn’t give her any money.

In any case, what signals would you look for when someone were to come and ask you for monetary help? And what signals would you try to give out if you were to ask for monetary help?

## Uniform

So it seems like my school uniform has changed, and I don’t like it. I happened to notice this a long time ago, actually, when I saw this boy standing close to my apartment wearing a shirt that was mostly blue, and trousers that were mostly grey.

The thing that bothered me was the mostly part. Back in our times (1986-98) there was no mostly business. We wore simple plain blue shirts and simple plain blue trousers. No frills, no extra fittings. No uniform belts or ties or uniform sweater or leather shoes or any other such inconveniences.

So I see this boy quite regularly nowadays. He is there, in front of the gate of my apartment that faces the main road, waiting for the school bus. He lives somewhere close by I think, for I’ve seen him walk to his spot. I was somehow hoping he was living in my apartment building, so I could get to know him.

So there are lots of weird fittings on the uniform now. School emblem near the chest (I must mention I didn’t even know about the existence of one such emblem), borders for the shirt sleeves and trouser pockets, and so on. Even on thursdays, there are lots of extra fittings to the white uniform. Some craziness seems to be happening.

The only heartening thing is that one day I saw this boy, in blue and grey with all the extra fittings, wearing sneakers. Some things, I realized, never change. And how much ever people try to change things, some awesome things remain.