Premier League-Dopers: Answer these varied questions

Ok I live in America and have little soccer/football/futbol understanding.

After I watched the world cup I started playing the XBox game PES2010 and managed a 2nd division team in the English league. I have no real life basis to tell what is real and what isn’t.

A few questions:

-How long is a soccer player’s career supposed to last? Do they really still perform at nearly full capacity even after 30? When are players (especially midfielders and strikers, I think defenders and goalkeepers are less intensive positions) over the hill?

-How big is the difference in talent between say the top six premier league teams and the bottom six?

-In the FA cup, do the second division teams ever have a realistic chance of beating a 1st division team? Or winning it?

-What is more important, winning the division or the FA cup? Who is the best if two teams split those titles?

-Is the English premier league really the overall best in terms of talent, compared to the French, German, Italian, and Spanish ones? (The game announces that England’s champions are hinted at being the ‘best in the world’)

-Do players really become great through years of training, and not straight out? For example, most younger players have bad ratings (relatively slow, mediocre dribbling) but become better and when they hit about 24-26 they can hit their peak and become incredibly good.

-Do English fans actually care about UEFA championship? The game has fans willing to pay more to see your team playing the UEFA games, although to me it seems like English cocknys / holigans wouldn’t care about a UEFA title as much

-Do they ever call the goalkeeper a ‘goalie’ or is that North American hockey usage?

-Also, why does professional Futbol only allow for three substitutions? It seems stingy, for 90 minutes of brutal running, like they disfavor substitutions, this seems different than American sports with no limit on subs. Is there a reason besides wanting to make it more about endurance rather than subbing in a bunch of players constantly? (Still why not four or five?)

-How often do they give out red cards (straight up) and yellow cards?

-How important is height for a goalkeeper? For a center back? (The best center backs sometimes are not that tall, in the low 180cm’s; I would have that height would be more important) Why are the players not taller considering that headers are important? Compared to American football and esp. Basketball height in Soccer seems not that important

(If speed is so great, more than height, then why aren’t there more Muggsy Boggs type players in the NBA?)

Exceptional strikers can still play for the very top up to about 30, but usually they start to lose speed after their mid-to-late twenties and tend to move to lesser clubs. There are exceptions - Teddy Sheringham (Man U and others) was alwaysvnoted as having little natural speed but excellent positional awareness that gave him “an extra two yards in his head”. He played at the top level well into his thirties, although he was always more of a “super-sub” with Man U than a first-choice striker.
Goalies (yes, we use that term) do have longer careers, you’re right.

Don’t know how to quantify difference in talent between top and bottom of the EPL, say, but I don’t think anybody in the West Ham squad would be picked for Man U or Arsenal.

Second tier teams have occasionally won the FA Cup e.g. West Ham in 1980. It’s not particularly unusual for clubs to be beaten by opposition from a lower league during the competiton, but the final is usually between top-tier teams.

League is way more important than the FA Cup these days. They used to be more equal, but the league was still probably more prestigious.

EPL/Italy/Spain/maybe Germany are about equal in quality. Some say Spain is the best, some Italy, some England. The French league is not quite as strong. Football’s not as big in France.

Fans certainly do care about the UEFA Champions League. It’s arguably the most prestigious club tournament of them all. Winning it is a very big deal for any club.

Phew! That’s a lot of questions. I’ll pass on the rest.

Hey Sassy, I am still learning to multiquote (read: don’t know how to do it). So I am just gonna answer a few of your questions. I am American, female, grew up playing soccer, coach soccer, and enjoy watching soccer. This is my 2 cents…

Most players should be playing first team ball (think major league vs. minor league), by 22-24. They usually peak in the 24 to 28 range. And then peter out around 34. Many outliers, obvs.

I think the talent pool between the top six teams in the EPL and the bottom six team can be pretty huge. Consider the depth of the bench squad for Chelsea vs. the starters for say, Wigan. Like baseball, more money typically means better teams. If you can get them to perform.

Division 2 teams have beaten EPL teams in the FA cup during match play. I don’t think it is a realistic expectation (I wouldn’t bet on it). I don’t know if a D2 team has ever won the whole shebang.

I think the English Premier League is the most fun to watch. Overall, though, I think the top Spanish and Italian League teams probably have more talent on paper (more $$). If I had to rank: Top 2 La Liga (spanish) > Top 2 Serie A (italian) > Top 6 EPL > next 5 Spanish and Italian mixed > the rest of the EPL > German (Bundesliga sp???). Purely my opinion.

I care about UEFA. As a fan I mean. I can’t really say for anyone else, but they play all the games on FoxSoccer. So I guess people watch it.

I think goalie is an American thing. The commentators call them keeps or keepers. In fact, goalies are trained to scream out “KEEPER” when they are going up for a ball.

They higher up the level you get in FIFA, the more limitations there are on substitutions. It is just a factor in the strategic part of the game. For example, in the NCAA, once you sub out, you can’t go back in until the second half, etc… Whereas in youth leagues, the substitutions are unlimited. Any soccer player worth their salt can play 90 minutes no problem, however. It is an endurance thing.

I think the frequency of carding totally depends on the referee, league, tournament (FA cup vs. World Cup), etc… Who knows. In the EPL, straight red cards are rare… accumulated reds (two yellows in one match) happen every so often. Almost every game has at least one yellow card. I realize this is not really an answer. :slight_smile:

Height is hugely important for goalies, but youth is less so. Brad Friedel must be like 80 at this point. I think inside the 18, experience matters most. For center backs, I think vertical leap can make up for height. And being a good header (both offensively, and defensively) is as much mental as it is physical. Alan Shearer was a prolific goal scorer with his head, and I don’t think he was terribly tall. Heading is one of those weird things that you either do well or don’t. Anecdotally, I have never seen being good at heading necessarily correlated to height. Although it can’t hurt.

I have a pet theory about height in soccer, however. The farther away your brain is from your feet (tall), the less good you are at footskills. Most of the super fast, dribble masters, seem really short to me. I think I’m on to something. :slight_smile: Peter Crouch is a freak of nature. I would not consider him a footskill adept though.

Anyway, hope I answered some of your questions…

Tag out… I’ll take over where I can. Britisher here… living in the US, so I field these a lot.

  • 30 seems to be a watershed of sorts. Past that players either drop down leagues where experience and nouse can mean more than fitness (i.e. your understanding of the game means you will be in the right position) or fade into punditry etc

  • HUGE. The top 6 (if we include Spurs and ManCity) are hugely above the others. Money is a big focator, although other clubs with money have failed to crack it. Beyond that I think the winning mentality of the top 6 pervades and encourages great players to go to them, so it actually continues to widen the gap. The bottom 6 can change each year with promotion/relegation. It is rare a promoted team stays up, so that gives you some scope of the talent gap.

  • Underdog factor aside, which produces a few ‘Cupsets’ each year, Best teams usually win.

  • Division win is harder, better team, longer schedule etc… If you want silverware though, both are important. Teams that are outside the top 6 for example will gun for the FA more for a chance of silverware.

  • Ditto above poster… englands league is great, but it is the sum of the players in it (argentinian, french, spanish, moroccan, turkish…) It’s the challenge of playing against those types of players that attracts the top talent.

  • Thats some artisitic license for gameplay… think of it as football RPG. PLayers progressing in stats makes you play to see it. In reality, some of the greatet footballers have their skills innately. They improve in teamwork, vision, game management… but tech skills are usually there. Look at Messi, Wilshire, Rooney, C.Ronaldo - all great before 20.

  • Only when our teams are in it. And certainly to beat the other nations away from home soil. UEFA win is pretty much the biggest thing for a club, bragging rights over not only your own league but all of europes leagues too.

  • we go for that too.

  • not sure on the origins/reasons, but I can guess… it ensures that fitness is important. Physical condition is paramount and sports stars should be on the top of it. Also, it makes the managers job difficult - to influence a game in terms of personnel, they have to be very selective and very smart. Watch how subs are often not striker for striker - a good manager (like fergie) will see they are getting overrun in midfield, and beef up to ensure they dominate possession and make more chances. A mistake in substitutions can cost you the game.

  • not often, and it usually needs to involve violence. A tackle with intent to injure, a headbutt or swung fist, studs showing in a slide… maybe 1 a weekend? Yellows, often - they warn that you are treading on the wrong side of gamesmanship. A push in the back or pull of the shirt will go unnoticed, but if they see you, it’s a warning not to do it again. You frequently see matches with 5-6 yellow cards.

  • There’s a little more to it… height + vertical jump + timing + anticipation + positioning = all super important for anyone who intends to be good with headers. From this, height gives you a boost in one piece of the equation - but someone with better anticipation and positioning will beat you to the ball no matter their height. Also, heading is one way to score a goal, if you can bang in 30 in a season without your head (Thierry Henry) who cares if you can?

Hope this helps…

My take on substitutions is that it helps level the playing field. If you are a rich club, you can afford a big squad and a lot of talent. Poorer clubs could not field the same quality. A rich club could afford to fill the bench with specialist players to exploit that advantage, like a goalkeeper who specialises in saving penalties (for a shoot-out). It also helps add to the unpredictability. Fielding all of your subs at once could completely change a game, or it could leave you exposed if you lose a player to injury or a red card.

On red and yellow cards, I’ve read that the average in the Premier League so far this season is 3.1 yellow cards per game. A quick scan of stats suggests each Premier League team is averaging 1.6 yellow cards per game and one red card every ten games or so. There’s a lot of variation in that, though.

Crusoe - I agree that the number of subs may help even the playing field. But do you think that was the reason FIFA made those rules? I have only begun watching professional soccer in the last 10 years, so I don’t know how long there has been this huge disparity in terms of $$$ and talent. I just don’t know.

Ah, that I don’t know. I think sub rules are per league, not set internationally, but I don’t know.

Up to some time in the 1960s, substitutions were not allowed in English soccer. You played the match or went off, and no-one replaced you.

Even now, a player who is substituted may not return to the field for any reason.

The last time the winner of the FA cup was not in the Football League (or Premier League, after the formation of that body) was 1901. The league was (iirc) only about 40 teams at that point.

There was a spate of “underdogs” - teams winning the cup by beating opponents from a higher division - in the 1970s. First, Sunderland beat Leeds in 1973 (the highlight being a staggering double save by the Sunderland goalie) and the next was in 1976.

In '76, the semifinals were between Liverpool and Manchester United (two top-tier First Division clubs) on the one hand, and Southampton (a Second Division side) vs Crystal Palace (a Third division side) on the other. The Man U manager, one Tommy Docherty, said in a televised interview that the winners of the FA Cup that year would be decided by the winner of the Liverpool v Man U. semifinal.

In the Final, Southampton beat Man U. 1-0.

And then there was West Ham v Arsenal in 1980.

I can’t think of one since, but I haven’t paid close attention to the FA Cup in recent years.

Well, according to Wiki at least, originally there were no substitutions at all, other than if a player didn’t show up, or in case of emergencies (records are kinda vague).

Only in 1965-66 were in-match substitutions allowed by the Football League (and only one per match, and only for injuries). It was until the next year that the sub could be used tactically. I can’t find a cite for when it was increased to three per match.

I was in your position eight and a half years ago, and my fandom and understanding was improved in part to EA Sports FIFA 2003, so I’ll and my two cents.

I’ve read and would agree that the physical peak of an athlete is 27 years old, but many, if not most, go past 30. Two of my favorites (Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes) are in their mid- to late-30s.

Very big. It doesn’t mean upsets don’t happen, of course, but that’s due to the nature of the game. Speaking of, Wolverhampton beat Manchester United on Saturday 2-1, but I don’t think any of their starters would break into the starting line-up for United, Chelsea, Arsenal, nor Manchester City.

Definitely, but again, that’s due to the nature of the game where it’s generally low scoring, and a team can dominate, but just not get a goal, and then the lesser team can fluke a goal and win. Winning it, not so much, though. Only 6 different teams (United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, and Portsmouth) have won the FA Cup since '92.

The League, always (at least for me), and the Premier League Champion is likelier the better team, too. They’ve proven their worth over the course of 38 matches, not 6 (or a few more with possible replays).

This is very debatable and subjective. Right now, the very best players are in Spain, but I think the English Premier League has deeper teams than Spain at this time. Italy has traditionally been higher than both, in my opinion, but money is so dominant now, and the PL has more to offer, that it’s currently the best.

Of course they become better. There are very few players that can play really well at the top under maybe age 21. Messi was one, and Rooney was another. Ronaldo (Brazilian) was amazing, but injuries got him. Ronaldo (Portuguese) had amazing talent and did well at age 18, 19, 20, but it was when he was 22-23 that he really started dominating.

Yes, but it not a OMG YES! Only 4 teams get in the Champions League each year, so for fans of the rest of English teams, it’s something to watch and hope your club can reach one day, but there’s no major concern with it. As a United fan, I’ve wanted United to pass Liverpool’s 18 titles more so than get another Champions League, but celebrating United’s CL title in 2008 was amazing. My choice for this season, if I could only pick one, is the Premier League (it would be the 19th title). If United win it this year, then maybe I’ll want to see a 4th CL/EC victory next year.

I’ve never paid attention to it, actually. I would guess it’s generally “goalkeeper” or just “keeper,” but I usually tune out the announcers while watching.

I have no answer for the bit about substitutions.

A guess would be that there’s a red card given every third match. Yellow’s are usually common, and I’d guess an average of 4 per match.

For a keeper, it’s very important, and pretty important for a center back. However, the best single performance I’ve seen from a cb was by Fabio Cannavarro for Italy in the '06 World Cup (throughout, but especially the semi and final), and he’s just 5’8" or so. I play recreationally, and what I’ve gathered is that easily the most important thing to succeed is technique with the ball. Next, athleticism. Then, field awareness. Height barely registers to figure out if someone is good or not.

The answers are long, but hopefully helpful.

Right, substitutions.

First of all, some background. In the major leagues, such as the Premier League in England, teams select seven possible substitutes, one of whom must be a goalkeeper (also commonly called “goalie” or “keeper”). Of this seven, three can be brought on at any time in the game. The player replaced cannot then return to the game.

Substitutions are a relatively recent invention - as mentioned above, they were introduced to the English leagues in the 60s. I think the initial reason for their introduction was because too many games were being spoiled due to an early injury, which meant that the affected team had to play with ten men (or ten men plus one invalid) - a huge disadvantage.

As the game evolved, however, substitutions were accepted as a valid tactical move. My period of watching football starts in the mid-80s, when in the Scottish leagues, teams picked two subs, both outfield players, both of whom could come on. This had been increased from the one substitute originally permitted - I’m not sure when exactly this change was made. In the 90s it was expanded to three named/potential subs, then five, then seven, but the number of actual substitutions permitted during a game remained locked at three.

Unless he’s old or returning from injury, every footballer will be able to play for 90 minutes. Generally, substitutions are made for tactical reasons or when a player is injured. Often a team will play the entire game and not use its maximum number of permitted substitutions. Typically, the goalkeeper and the back four will play the entire game, unless any of them are injured. Midfielders and forwards are most likely to be substituted, in order to change the pace or character of the game. Selecting the right change to make, and the right time to make it, requires tactical finesse - unlimited substitutions would dilute this.

The effect of allowing unlimited or more than three substitutions can be seen a typical friendly match, in which the second half is disjointed due to a large number of changes in personnel. In addition, substitutions require a significant stoppage in play. More than six in a game would slow it down significantly. Limiting teams to three substitutions is integral to retaining the character of the game.

Man, I’ve rambled on for much longer than I anticipated. I hope this helps.

Ok, then why is Manchester United so worshipped? It’s the only team I recognized and I didn’t know anything about professional soccer when i started.

I suppose Man U has won a lot, but hasn’t some of the other ones like Chelsea done the same?

Although in PES, Manchester City seems to do even better sometimes than Manchester United.

Manchester United have been the pre-eminent English club over the last twenty years ago (I say this as a non-fan) but worship isn’t a word I’d use. They have loyal fans, and the inevitable gloryseekers, but the phrase ABU (Anyone But United) doesn’t exist without reason.

Because they have won a lot, had and have global icons (Beckham, Rooney), and are heavily marketed (Nike). It also helps that their (ongoing) glory years coincided with the globalization of the game, the creation of the Premier League, etc.

I’d say the only soccer team more well known internationally is Barcelona, and even then that’s probably not true in the US.

Chelsea have won a lot, yes, but only rather recently (coinciding with being purchased by a mega-rich Russian). They are not nearly as heavily marketed internationally (do they even have a relationship with a US entity like the Yankees/ManU one?). They also lack(ed) someone with the star power of Beckham, Christiano Ronaldo, or Rooney. Drogba, while a spectacular player, just doesn’t have the same pull.

And, hopefully, they will do better than them tomorrow as well… :cool:

City is very much on the rise, having been purchased by a mega-bucks owner willing to dump lots of money into the team.

Manchester City does so well because over the past few years, they have spent an obscene amount of money buying top players from around the world (or from across town, in the case of Carlos Tevez). In a video game, having the best players individually whose stats in aggregate are higher than the other team will probably guarantee a win, but in reality, all their great players still don’t make a great team. Makes a damn good team, but not a great one. Look at the 2010 French world cup team. Amazing players all around who just did not cohere as a team (due to a deranged coach, but still).

That’s why Man City is doing well this year, but isn’t dominated or getting as many goals, as 200 million pounds of talent should do.

That said, I’m watching the City/United game right now while wearing a City jersey, having woken up at the butt-crack of dawn to see my team win.

Oh dear. You won’t have enjoyed the last few minutes, then.

UPDATE: Motherfucking Rooney…

That’s definitely City’s problem; it’s just Tevez upfront. He’s got the pace and skill but he can’t carry the team by himself. They spend all this money and it’s STILL just Tevez upfront. GAAAAHHHHH!