The Double Pivot

The Double Pivot


Introducing The Double Pivot from Howler Magazine, hosted by Mike Goodman and Michael Caley. The Double Pivot is for people who want smart soccer/football commentary with a healthy dose of analytics to back it up.


Reconciling love for the game with the complicated social issues that come with it  

The two Mikes are joined by Shireen Ahmed of the Burn It All Down podcast to discuss the early success of the podcast, which examines the intersection of feminism and sports, plus a few interesting social topics floating in and around and through the beautiful game. To set the table, the guys do a quick review of the 1-1 draw that's left the U.S. in a solid World Cup qualifying position.

Editor's note: The amount of Ronaldo's reported settlement is incorrectly noted in this discussion. It was actually reported as being $375,000. 

A closer look at where the USMNT stands in WC qualification, plus mailbag questions!  

When it comes to the U.S. Men's National Team, everything should probably now be built around Christian Pulisic, but that creates a few hurdles. The two Mikes talk about those hurdles, the current SPI probabilities, and then turn their attention to the mailbag. In it, they find questions about Liverpool's apparent failure to land Virgil van Dijk from Southampton and the meltdown it caused amongst the LFC faithful, whether statistical insights at one level of soccer (Premier League) apply to other levels (women's or college soccer), and whether Chelsea and/or City are addressing their needs thus far in the transfer market. 

Real Madrid won the Champions League, and thus Ronaldo is better than Messi  

Now that we've got your attention, let's talk about every magic moment from Saturday night in Cardiff. From diabolical deflections, to the mystical Manzukic, to that roustabout Ramos — and we haven't even gotten to Ronaldo's frosted tips! — the match had a little bit of something for everyone. 

Previewing the Europa League final with Priya Ramesh  

Priya Ramesh writes about Dutch football for Benefoot, StatsBomb, FourFourTwo, The Guardian, Bleacher Report, and more. So who better to interview on the eve of the Europa League final? The conversation leaves no stone unturned, from Ajax's young stars to Jose Mourinho's use of the dark side of the force (it'll make sense when you hear it). You can find Priya on Twitter: @Priya8Ramesh.

The worst predictions the Double Pivot made this season  

The two Mikes review some of their worst assessments over the course of the 2016-17 season. Topics include: David Moyes, Claudio Bravo, Chelsea, Barcelona, Spurs, Daniel Sturridge, Manchester United, Kelechi Iheanacho and Marcus Rashford. The surprise twist: Sometimes when they're wrong, they're not wrong at all (or something like that). 

Who is the worst player getting minutes on a Top 6 PL club? Mega mailbag time!  

Buckle up, because we're covering a lot of ground in this week's episode. In chronological order, here are all the questions the gents were able to get to: 

– What is Everton's best case scenario if they sell Lukaku and Barkley this summer?

– What stops first, and when: Spurs 'competing with the top 4', or Spurs spending around half as much on wages as them?

– Does Klopp's style of play have the capacity, with an improved squad, to consistently defeat low block counter-attack Premier League teams?

– Back at the start of the PL season, you were high on Liverpool and Arsenal, low on Spurs. What do you think changed?

– Should Stoke sack Mark Hughes?

– Deviation from expectation(xG) is often been attributed to variation. How much of this is random & how much are factors we can't factor yet?

– In your opinion, who is the worst player that consistently gets minutes for a Top 6 side? 

– What has made 3 at the back so successful this season in the premier league? What has changed from earlier years if anything?

– How will China affect the summer transfer market? (Aka let us mourn the loss of Diego Costa on Chelsea)

– Leicester - have they been all that different under Shakespeare than Ranieri (only Spurs have won more points in last 10)

The Champions League semifinals are suddenly boring! Plus, an Arsenal deep dive  

The two Mikes discuss Higuain shaking off the "choker" label, Juventus holding off another great attacking side, and Atletico coming up empty at the hands of their rivals. Then, it's time for a long talk about what went wrong with Arsenal this year, what changes could mean (and whether they seem likely), and what the future holds for the club if it finishes sixth. 

Breaking down huge matches in Manchester and Madrid – plus a mailbag!  

Is it more of a Mourinho match if his team sets out to get a 0-0 result, or if it shouldn't set out to get a 0-0 result and still gets a 0-0 result? The two Mikes ponder this important question, then attempt to figure out what Real Madrid was doing in the waning moments of the most pivotal match of the season. Then, it's on to your questions, like... Do midfielders need to play with more grit or is it a trait from a bygone era that's no longer relevant? Coutinho or Eriksen? Who's your favorite fun player on a lower half PL side? 

Have Monaco proven they're good enough to win the Champions League?  

The Champions League is down to four teams, and the two Mikes posit whether Monaco's dream run can end with them lifting the cup. The F.A. Cup is also down to four clubs, and despite a bevy of jokes throughout the current season, the guys are actually going to talk about these two matches, and the implications surrounding the teams playing in them. Mostly Arsenal, but a little bit about everyone else, too. Due to a technical malfunction, Caley's audio is off a bit this week, so apologies in advance.

The fine margins exposed by this week's Champions League results  

We're down to the finest of margins in the Champions League, and it shows. The two Mikes talk about whether one goal will be enough to see Atletico through or if Leicester can get lucky, whether Barcelona can mount another comeback or if it's time to talk about Juve as a favorite, and whether a Javi Martinez red card will define a season for one or two of the world's biggest super clubs. Plus, reaction to Dortmund having to play after the attack on their team bus, a potential shift in the CL power structure, and the relegation battle in the Premier League. Oh, and bible history corner. It's a 50th episode extravaganza, and it’s got everything!

The top 4 race tightens, but has anything changed?  

Chelsea's 2-1 defeat of City shouldn't worry City fans because they're locks for the top 4, right? The two Mikes explain that while Chelsea and Spurs are all but locks to finish first and second, what happens to the four teams fighting for two spots behind them is anyone's guess. The numbers say Manchester United are much better than their position, Arsenal is much worse defensively this year, Liverpool is on the brink of a worrying trend, and if City were as good as everyone assumes, they wouldn't be in this race to begin with.

Pulisic or Dele Alli? It's mailbag time!  

To make up for last week's absence, it's an episode built entirely around your questions. Questions/topics include: Is it possible/efficient/useful for an international team to use a system that players aren’t familiar with at the club level? (3:50) Who is better now, and who has a higher ceiling, Christian Pulisic or Dele Alli? (17:00) What's up with the Netherlands and Argentina? (25:15) Is Arsenal's dependence on Cazorla more about him being great or Arsenal having a flawed midfield set up? (32:45) Will we see reliable golkeeper metrics in the future or will GK success always be mostly attributed to luck? (38:55)

Hot takes! Come and get 'em!  

Just about everyone who cares has a theory on what's wrong at Arsenal. One Mike's stance was so white hot that Twitter is yet to recover. The other Mike started a European war when he suggested that the top English teams would be better if they could sign the best players away from the teams directly below them. Have your extinguisher nearby for this one, your listening device may spontaneously combust!

Declining to analyze the chaos that happened in Barcelona  

Analytics go out the window when craziness takes over, which is how the two Mikes feel about one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history (they still talk about it). Meanwhile, a clash between Chelsea and Manchester United in the F.A. Cup somehow turned into a Paul Pogba bashing, and just to keep things ugly, we close things out with many thoughts on the Lukaku situation at Everton. 

Examining Liverpool's bizarre record vs. good and bad clubs  

Some guy named Mike Goodman joins the podcast to figure out what's going on with Klopp’s squad on Merseyside, as well catch up on everything he's missed, from Claudio Rainieri's exit, PSG's thrashing of Barcelona and Caley's time spent watching "Newsies.”

The MAGIC of the League Cup and a short trip to Italy  

With  Mike Goodman still on paternity leave, Michael Caley welcomes Ben Daniels to the pod to talk about the big stories of the day. They cover Barcelona's tragic situation of merely having a good shot at winning two trophies this year, after winning merely two last year as well. Both Michael and Ben were drawn fully into the magic of the League Cup, where Southampton failed to gain a deserved victory over Manchester United. But, they ask, what does it all MEAN you know? And then to Italy, where both Michael and Ben took their first looks at upstarts Atalanta and came away impressed.

Cap it off with the longest Bible History Corner ever and this was a bonanza of soccer and not soccer.

Leicester City's fall from grace and the relegation battle  

One Mike continues to march alone while another is graduating from training wheels as a father. In this episode, the remaining Mike welcomes a first guest, Bobby Gardiner, to break down the issues with the teams scrapping at the bottom of the Premier League table with a special spotlight on the defending champions. Then, Mike welcomes in Conrad Appiah of Opta to figure out what goes on behind the scenes to record all the data that's vital to the world of soccer analytics.

Why Alexis is like the Spartan general Brasidas, and other blowout revelations  

Quick note off the top: The audio quality of this episode isn't up to our normal standards, and we're sorry for that. This was our second attempt, and we decided a grainy-sounding something was better than nothing this week. SB Nation's Graham MacAree joins Michael Caley to talk about some weird results, the questions we're not asking in analytics, and yes, a digression that ties together Alexis Sanchez and the Peloponnesian War.

Which Premier League results revealed the most? Plus a mini-transfer window review  

As the fixture congestion fades, the race for the top four tightens and the two Mikes are starting to worry about a few clubs. Chelsea and Liverpool drew, which meant little for Chelsea but confirmed some suspicions about Liverpool. Elsewhere, Manchester United, Arsenal and Spurs all failed to get results when they figured they would. Is the hill getting steeper for one or all of them? Finally, the transfer window is closed, so which moves were noteworthy?

The beautiful chaos that was City vs. Spurs  

What do you do when your midfield doesn't really exist? You put Yaya Toure there by himself to hold down the fort behind a tidal wave of attacking options. It nearly worked for Pep Guardiola's side, but there was plenty to unpack from how both teams handled the opposition's approach. The two Mikes break down the match before turning their attention to "the magic of the cup." That's right, they zero in on the biggest matches and storylines in this weekend's FA Cup, from PSG vs. Monaco to Nice's run of form to the suddenly important clash between Real Madrid and Real Sociedad. And if you're saying to yourself, "Hey, those aren't FA Cup stories," well, that's the joke. 

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