A hush descends over the raucous crowd of American college students, the zealous support for their University team has given way to a silent intrigue. As the quarterback receives the ball the spectator's curiosity grows, scanning the positions around he silently communicates with the receiver ready to take the catch, angles and trajectories are calculated and suddenly the ball is launched through the air. An eruption of energy bursts forth from the crowd, with the successful completion of the pass they realise they have witnessed a moment of history. This is the first successfully completed pass in a Robot American Football game.
The evolution of the robots, to a stage where they are able to compete with each other, has taken 4 years of development. The iterations of the "players" has been documented through YouTube
. The speed at which the robots are improving is exponential, where they once seemed slow proof of concept pieces made by bored students, they now resemble robotic versions of their human counterparts. The robots communicate with each other in milliseconds, using ultrasonic beacons, at any point the quarterback will know exactly where his team-mates are, his on-board computers can calculate the height and speed he should throw the ball, his mechanic arm is never tired, in what can now be seen as an almost inevitable consequence of all of this technology there has come a tipping point. The robots have surpassed the humans.
The player that completed the first successful robot pass was the Notre Dame quarterback, and it can do this with a 75% reliability rate while the NFL's all time leader has a rate of 66%, but the robots aren't finished. With each new year comes new technology, faster technology, more accurate sensors, better programming. There will come a point where the quarterbacks will adjust for wind, their vastly improved throwing mechanism will power the ball through the air, their on-board computers performing hundreds of calculations. With each year these robots are eliminating their reliance on "luck".
I love Mario Gomez. In Euro 2008 I convinced friends, family and everybody I came into contact with that they should place their money, their cars, their clothes off their back on Stuttgart's Gomez to be top scorer. After watching weekly highlights and matches care of Setanta sports I had seen Gomez score 28 goals in 33 games, I was converted to Gomezism. The spectacular failure of Gomez in the Euros never shook my faith, only my bank balance. When telling people that "Olivier Giroud will light up the Euros" I'm quickly reminded by them of Gomez. I love Mario Gomez because he is "lucky". Viewed in isolation almost every single one of Mario Gomez's goals can be seen as "jammy", "lucky", or any other in litany of phrases that veil the true nature of scoring goals: "skill".
Take a look at Mario Gomez's goals from the 2010/2011 season and notice the pattern. He's always in and around the 6 yard box:http://youtu.be/KWIz892Fuq0
Almost ALL of the 39 goals are scored ahead of the penalty spot.
With some players skill is easy to see. Whether Cristiano Ronaldo is doing his 50 stepovers, Alexis Sanchez is dribbling 100m in 10 seconds, Zidane is rouletting, or Suarez is chipping you will hear the appreciative drawl of "skiiiiiiillllll" pour from the observer's mouth. Yet Mario Gomez tucks in from 2 yards out and he's "spawny", "jammy", "flukey", "goalhanger".
Mario Gomez is robotic. He calculates his angles, he anticipates rebounds, he shoots for the area of goal where he has the highest chance of scoring in, he is ruthless, he is ruthlessly efficient. Liverpool are not.
I have always promised myself that if I raise a kid I will teach them at an early age that the harder you work the luckier you get. It seems a simple premise yet it's ignored throughout life and throughout football. When Andy Carroll wins a flick on at the edge of the box and doesn't run straight for the keeper afterwards he is limiting his luck to almost nothing. When Stewart Downing hugs the left-touch line while the ball is worked down the right flank he is limiting his potential to score to almost 0 (you can't be "lucky" off the ball). While Kenny would eulogise after each game that we were "unlucky" he was wrong. We were not lucky, we were ineffective.
Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Taken in isolation it can be forgiven to say that it was an unlucky game, an unlucky shot, an unlucky rebound but over the course of 38 league games there is no luck, there is simply a failure to understand and correct the conditions you constantly place yourself in.
No clearer example of this can be found in our season-long love affair with the woodwork:http://www.youtube.com/v/OfSJAKmBZO8
If Mario Gomez wears our number 9 in the 2011-2012 season he scores a robotic 20+
The next manager to come in will not be afforded the luxury to simply blame an inability to address continued attacking problems by stating that today our luck was not in. The next manager to mention the notion of luck will have 1 rabbit's foot and an Irishman sent to them courtesy of me and Mario Gomez.