Wednesday, September 18

In praise of Jussi

Our defence showed real character at Southampton, though most of our attacking play was pretty joyless. But let's give full credit to Jussi Jaaskelainen for a superb performance at the age of 38, and credit to Big Sam for signing him too.

I'm currently reading Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski and they cite Allardyce's signing of veteran Gary Speed for Bolton as a testament to Big Sam's use of Moneyball-type stats. The figures showed that the 35-year-old Speed was covering just as much ground as younger players such as Gerrard and Lampard, even though everyone else thought he was past it. He then went on to have some excellent seasons at Bolton.

It seems amazing that Bolton were prepared to drop Jussi and sell him and that no-one else came in for a proven international goalkeeper. When you think that Dino Zoff won a World Cup Winner's medal for Italy at 40, age shouldn't be too much of an obstacle for a great goalkeeper. So well done to Allaydyce and his team of Stattos for spotting an undervalued keeper going on a free.

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