Premier League: Fightback Statistics! (Part 2)

Many thanks to @JonnyGrossmark for providing this excellent guest post. If you are not following him on Twitter already – get on it!

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Part 1 of this series is available here

Mid-Table Sides “FightBack” Analysis

Having looked at the Top 6 teams, it is appropriate to look at the teams which sit outside the top six but which were expected at the beginning of the season to find a mid table berth and have no fear of relegation but no thoughts of getting into Europe.


I have written extensively about Newcastle this season and they are a very interesting in terms of the phrase “yo- yo’ on the basis that they are a team that goes up and down the EPL table.

Focusing on their inability to fight back when conceding first should have given some doubt in the ability of Pardew to get Newcastle into the Top 6 again this season.

Pardew was awarded the League Managers Association award for last season which is voted for by fellow professional managers and Sir Alex won it in 2011 and this is a prestigious award. In effect this cemented the 8 year contract that Pardew signed to give him time to deliver the first trophy since they won the fairs Cup in 1969.

My question is do we take at face value that Pardew did an excellent job or do we add raw data to the mix to show that last season Newcastle over achieved and a drop in positions was an expected outcome this season with potential that Newcastle could easily drop out of the EPL in the next few seasons again?

If I advise that Pardew does not have the ability to micro manage players you could rightly counter and say that Newcastle finished 5th last year so obviously he must have the mindset to lead his squad and motivate the players on and off the pitch with a solid team behind him.

I would argue that under Pardew, Newcastle have only won 37% of games and that  he has had success with regard to getting teams from the Championship into the EPL but not been able to consolidate on the progress.

It is also a well known fact that at West Ham, Pardew was given media training to be able to connect with the fans more and I express the thought that how well does he communicate with his own players after the BBC described him as a …”distant animal”. I have watched a number of games this season (mainly recorded) looking at the body language of Pardew and apart from writing notes, I have not seen anything to suggest that he commands the loyalty of the players as in too many games this season, Newcastle have given up as soon as they have conceded first and they are also showing an inability to hold onto leads having won just 50% of the games where they scored first this  season which is not top six form and astonishingly since Pardew joined, Newcastle have not won one game when conceding first and their last win was against West Ham in October 2010. Newcastle conceded an early goal scored by Carlton Cole on 12 minutes to “fightback” and Newcastle dominated most of the game under Hughton who I consider to be far more capable as a Manager then Pardew.

Football blogging is at a stage where if it does not fit the model then it must be a random event such as playing snakes and ladders which has zero skill value but I think this is a dangerous route to take as one of the biggest academic arguments is over sample size but in football past performance is not an indicator of future performance although there is no reason to think that Newcastle will become a “fightback” team in the near future.

We are only limited by our interpretation of the data presented. When Spurs beat Wigan 9-1 we can clearly see that this is a random event as there was not expectation at Half Time that Wigan would concede eight second half goals. Newcastle coming 5th last season cannot be explained as a random event but can show the limitations of the understanding of data as we are now in a situation where Pardew is now publicly blaming the players(survival analysis) when he is the one who should be blamed.

Compare this to Sunderland conceding first exactly 17 times over the previous four completed seasons. Is this consistent behaviour random or explained?

By   @JonnyGrossmark


Posted on 26 Jan 2013, in Player Selection and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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