Often Partisan

The Kevin Phillips Conundrum

For a team that doesn’t score many goals, the Kevin Phillips conundrum is an intriguing one. For a player that has scored in every game he has started this season, you can understand why he might want to start more games. It’s an issue that has caused discussion on the messageboards, and I thought that I would look into it a bit deeper.

The main problem for Phillips is his age; at 37 most players are contemplating badges or beaches; moving into a different area of the game or upping their game on the golf course. Phillips has never shown a hint that he wants to retire any time soon, and whilst I think he does suffer sometimes, he continues to play on with a smile on his face and a regular flow of goals. Indeed, his stats for this season make fascinating reading; in 501 minutes playing time KP has got three goals, which translates to just a little bit better than a goal every other game. A 1 in 2 strike-rate is considered excellent for any striker; only Obafemi Martins beats it, and only then by 7 minutes. The argument could be made that KP has got 2 of his goals (and 180 of his minutes) against weaker teams; his record against Premiership opposition is 1 in 201 minutes, and in the Premier League is 0 in 111. However, you can only play against the opposition in front of you, for as long as the manager dictates. KP hasn’t had a start in the Premier League this season, and of his eight sub appearances none of them have been for longer than 25 minutes. How can KP improve his strike-rate if he’s not given a chance?

Personally, I don’t think we should be starting KP more often. I think that his role is a sub, and the reason for that is a simple one; in fourteen appearances, just over 8 hours of football KP hasn’t got one assist. Whilst he might score a couple, he doesn’t set any up. Watching the game against Bolton, I didn’t think KP actually did much for the first hour; indeed, if he hadn’t have scored I’d have said he had had a poor game. As a player in the 18 yard box he’s still almost without parallel – certainly in the Blues squad. However, I don’t think he contributes as much outside the box, and this is what lets him down. Jerome may have only got five goals this season in 2351 minutes playing time, but he’s directly set up four. Zigic has 8 goals in 1861 minutes playing time – just over a goal every other game, and he’s got 7 direct assists too. That says to me that the starting partnership really should be Jerome and Zigic if you are going to rely purely on statistics.

Of course, as Mark Twain liked to say, the three kinds of lies in this world are lies, damned lies and statistics. To purely rely on stats as a basis to pick players doesn’t work. These kind of stats don’t give an idea of how well a player has contributed to each game; how much work they’ve put in and how much worth they are to the team. To get those kind of stats requires pro-zone or similar, and I haven’t tried to sort that out. I’m personally not convinced that KP should be anything more than a super sub, to come on when pushing for a winner against a team. I like to see everyone in the team working hard, and contributing to the team effort; I don’t think KP does this as well as other people. However, this is merely an opinion – one of many amongst bluenoses – and that’s the reason the KP conundrum rolls on.

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One Response to “The Kevin Phillips Conundrum”

  • sunnymehta0723 says:

    I really think we need Kevin Phillips to start, simply because he can score, no build up play or momentum required. Okay he doesn’t contribute a ‘complete’ performance, but you can argue two of our star players Dann and Roger Johnson are just the same as they just defend (in terms of open play), they don’t really push the team forward from the back, they are very much ‘men behind the ball’ defenders. This is not at all a bad thing, because they do the job, as I would expect Super Kev to do given the chance. And to be fair I think he is still very good at keeping the ball and linking play, which Jerome and Oba lack. He is more complete than these two and btw probably younger than the latter mentioned :p

    We only have one striker who plays ‘off the shoulder’ of the defender, without him defenders have all attackers in front of them. In terms of players who can threaten behind defenders (thorough the middle) we have Phillips and Bowyer, so when I see neither of them playing today, I was worried.

    My front two (even away from home!!!) would be Zigic and Super Kev. If there is a player that will know how to use Zigic it is SKP. The manager is doing something I call a ‘Mowbray’ , do not doubt Super Kev until he has shown he is not good enough, which I have yet to see.

    In a week where a player called Javier Hernandez is getting rave reviews and pundits comments like ‘where have these type of striker gone?’ …………… I would tell them they are sitting on the bench at Birmingham City FC. KRO.


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