Hello World. Hello in particular to those still loyal to the Reds and those who brook no mediocrity. My name is Joe Harvey and I'll be writing some pieces for this site. The tag Londonjoe is sort of misleading- my family lives in Oxford, England, I grew up in Singapore, and currently reside in North Carolina, but it wasn't taken at the time, and, well, Oxford is to London as Connecticut is to the City. I look forward to getting to know you all in more detail, and I hope I can provide some insight and promote fruitful discussion. After the jump I'll talk a little bit more about myself and what I want to do here at the siteSo, you are all probably wondering how a kid ends up in North Carolina from Singapore, or really, how a Liverpool fan ends up in Chelsea's home turf. My parents moved to Singapore when I was about ten- my Dad is a theology professor and there was an open position. I had to pick a Premier League team to follow, because football and baseball were never on TV, newspapers didn't know those sports existed, and the Internet was still 56 kbps dial-up. If you were lucky, you might load up ESPN's main page before the end of the weekend. Well, this was in 1997, and everyone I knew was a Manchester United fan. I refused to follow the pack, and I picked Liverpool because of their entertaining but sometimes lackadaisical style of play. It helped that Paul Ince, Steve McNanaman, and Robbie Fowler were there, and an explosive young kid named Michael Owen sealed it for me. I was a short, quick striker with no left foot, so naturally I idolized Owen, and I still think he's one of the great strikers in Premier League history. One of the best memories of my teenage years was watching the first half of the Champions League final at five in the morning, going to school and blockading any mention of the final score, thinking Liverpool had lost all day, and coming home after practice to watch the second half.
I came to college in the United States, graduated a couple of years ago, and am working in a stats lab at another institution in the state. I'm going to attempt to start creating some advanced metrics for soccer as part of my work here, some baselines for replacement players (VORP for soccer, basically, and certainly a form of UZR), and maybe some predictive stuff that will help cut through a lot of the subjective clutter around evaluating players. I'm willing to bet that people are interested in that sort of thing, and I'm really interested in what others observe and have to think about what we come up with. Statistical analysis in soccer is always going to have some subjective bias, but so little analysis is available beyond very basic information (number of touches, for instance), that those analyses are worth exploring. I'll be attempting the occasional literary excursion as the fading remnants of my liberal arts education cry out and go suddenly silent. We'll see how it goes.
We should be really excited about the potential for Liverpool in the next couple of years. Even though we had a disastrous start to the season, we have recovered. I think that the new owners and chairman are excellent and really have their heads screwed on straight. I think that Hodgson has had his moments- the win yesterday and the win against Chelsea were particularly strong statements. However, I think it's important to emphasize that this should always be a Champions League team. Given the resources and talent at their disposal, the staff should finish in the European places this year. The opening uncertainty of the season deeply hurt the psyche of the team, but they have recovered, and those above us have dropped enough points to make a European place a necessity for this to be a successful season. I have faith in this team, I have faith in this ownership, and I am gaining faith in this staff. It's time to rise, boys and girls.
Never walk alone