|Damned Lies and Football Statistics?|
Written by bluesman on Wednesday, 3rd Mar 2021 11:28
Football is possibly the most observed sport of all time, and there is plenty of statistical information available in the public domain to make some informed observations about clubs and managers, and their performance over the years.
I have found an interesting set of statistics published on a site called Transfermarkt which shows clubs' positions each season in a league of squad values.
The table shows league position compared to the club's position in a table of market values for those clubs in the given league in the given year. The final column is a 'score' which is the league position subtracted from the position in the MV table. While not entirely scientific it is accurate enough to give an interesting insight into the fortunes of the club.
The table shows the impact Marcus Evans made on the club financially when he first took over, and the gradual investment he made boosting the club's market value after emerging from administration to somewhere near that of the top six spenders.
It shows the disastrous impact of Roy Keane's management and the initial struggle Mick McCarthy had to recover from this and rebuild the team. It also shows that Evans retrenched considerably during the McCarthy years and that, after rebuilding, McCarthy was able considerably to outperform his budget.
We can see that in the early years of the recent period squad value ranking more or less matched league position, and that this ceased to be the case after 2015.
This supports the accusation that Evans has underinvested in the club, although it also shows that he invested millions before doing so, and of course he bought a significant debt when he took over. We can only reflect regretfully on the choice of Keane when money was available to invest.
We can then see the impact of the second disastrous management appointment, that of the inexperienced Hurst, who was unable to continue McCarthy's defiance of gravity
It is quite clear that the club (and some supporters) massively undervalued McCarthy's achievement at the club, and that many of the latter probably owe him an apology for the abuse he got during the later years of his management.
Finally we see Lambert unable to turn the club around from the Hurst disaster in spite of having the League One top-valued squad for nearly two seasons.
So, what should we make of Paul Lambert, now he has moved on? I have looked at his career in the same way.
Apart from his near miraculous management of Norwich into the Premier League, Lambert's management record by the same measurement does not appear to be impressive. The table makes it pretty clear why he left Villa, Blackburn, Wolves and then Stoke in quick succession.
Of course, it can be argued that he was not allowed time to turn around the last three clubs (and all three were in basket case condition), and short tenure is the bane of managers.
Leaving these three aside, his turnaround of Norwich remains extremely impressive, but his performances at Wycombe, Colchester, Villa and then Ipswich were much less so.
He was very clearly not a manager you would bring in to turn things around quickly, since he has not done this successfully at any point in his career, so he was a poor choice to rescue the club after Hurst.
For a bit of fun, we can make a table of Ipswich managers using their MV scores. It looks like this:
Joe Royle would certainly be higher than Jim Magilton if stats existed for his early years in charge, but probably not high enough to challenge McCarthy, since the financial competition was less intense in the earlier 2000s.
We now have one more question to contemplate. What does Paul Cook's management record look like using these stats?
*Deducted 12 points
[2.73 per season]
Squad market values aren't available for Cook's years at Southport and then Sligo. Since then though, his performance has been pretty solid, and certainly there haven't been any Keane or Hurst level disaster years. Only time will tell if he's able to knock McCarthy off the top spot at Town though.
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