Boardroom Analytics and Black Cat’s jobs

Last week’s manager piece only included attacking numbers and there’s been a huge clamour (cough) for the defensive side too.

So, I’ve jammed them both together on my first ‘proper’ Tableau viz. Both axis talk about ‘efficiency’. This is done by dividing actual goals per game by expected goals per game in attack and vice versa in defence. There are four initial things to look out for on the viz:

1. The higher up on it the manager is, the more defensively efficient his team has been. This means that in general, similar types of chances have been harder to convert against this guy’s outfit than against the average team.

2. The further to right the manager is the more his team has attacked efficiently. This means that in general, this guy’s team converts similar types of chances more regularly than the average side would.

3. The size of the manager’s dot reflects the number of games he has been in charge for over the last 5 Premier League seasons.

4. The colour of the dot represents the manager’s expected goal difference per game. The greener it is the better it has been. As it starts to fade to neutral and then turn into deeper red the worse it has been.


Plotting the graph like this allows us to see the four labelled quadrants.

The managers you see in the top right quadrant are all more efficient at both ends of the pitch than their peers. No doubt you’ll see the elephant in the room there alongside big name managers of big name sides. He’s the spitting image of my mate Lee who runs Tuesday 5-a-side, but in actual fact his name is Gus Poyet and he used to manage Sunderland.

He’s in that quadrant because he has been efficient in getting his team to take the chances they’ve created and efficient in stopping the oppo convert theirs. Unfortunately, however, his dot (measuring expected goal difference per game remember) is rosy pink. This means his team produced no chances in the first place and conceded a load at their own end.

Gus’ efficiency is interesting, though. Give him a team of thoroughbreds and he may (really stress may) be magic. However, he struggled to polish the Black Cat’s turd and as you can see, so did Bruce, O’Neill and di Canio (though they tried in different ways). The turds, though, are at least in-part their own creations. Whilst in the job, di Canio and Poyet made a big deal of telling the world they’d have final say on transfers despite having Sporting Directors in tow. di Canio has since said the opposite and rumours of Poyet falling out with his flew out of the revolving doors with him.

The board of a football club needs a handle on the relative strengths and weaknesses of its current and future manager. Using underlying numbers like these provide part of the solution. I gave examples of why they were better than the current ‘thinking’ here.

The real stories of who’s hot and who’s not are all over this viz. The full interactive version where you can check out who all the dots are is here:!/vizhome/PremierLeagueManagers/Sheet1

Follow me on Twitter @footballfactman

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