Specifically I’m referring to one statistic: best win rate of any Premier League Tottenham manager. Now that’s quite a statistic, and in the right context can certainly be used to ward off any naysayers or haters. After all, who are we to judge his methods? How can we have an objective view on his tenure as Spurs’ boss? The stats don’t lie – he was the best.
Except that he was also the worst. Let me explain.
The tricky thing about statistics is that there are two things going on, and those two things are not always in agreement. One of the things is the statistic itself, and the other is the interpretation or explanation of the statistic. The objective is to have these two things in alignment, so that you can learn something about what you are investigating. Let’s take an example:
So here we have the population of the top 5 countries. We see China with 1.36bn and India with 1.24bn. So from that statistic we can conclude that China has more people living in it than India. That’s pretty clear and simple. Terms like ‘more’ are easy to interpret, and it is clear to everyone what that means.
But this can also be boring. Nobody buys a paper or clicks a link to read something that makes sense. The headline “Tim sacked after results are no better than AVB” isn’t nearly as interesting as “Tim sacked despite having the best record”. After all I have done the same thing in the headline for this article.
So how can Tim be the best and the worst? It all depends what you mean by best and worst, and how you look at the data. Let’s start with the best:
Premier League Win Rate
Manager Played Won Win%
Sherwood 22 13 59.1%
Villas-Boas 54 29 53.7%
Redknapp 144 71 49.3%
Ramos 35 10 28.6%
Jol 114 47 41.2%
On that basis he has the highest win rate for Premier League games. But what about Cup games? After all the term ‘Premier League Manager’ doesn’t necessarily just mean for games played in the Premier League. It could just mean a manager that has a team that is in the Premier League.
All Games Win Rate
Manager Played Won Win%
Sherwood 28 14 50.0%
Villas-Boas 80 44 55.0%
Redknapp 198 98 49.5%
Ramos 54 21 38.9%
Jol 149 67 45.0%
Now Sherwood is behind AVB, and pretty much on par with Redknapp. That’s not looking so good as a headline. But of course there are not just wins to consider. Draws can also get you vital points, and avoiding defeats to rivals can keep you in the hunt against them. So not losing games is important as well.
All Games Loss Rate
Manager Played Lost Loss%
Sherwood 28 10 35.7%
Villas-Boas 80 16 20.0%
Redknapp 198 50 25.3%
Ramos 54 17 31.4%
Jol 149 44 29.5%
On losses Tim has the worst record of the last 5 managers. Even the calamitous Ramos lost fewer games than Tim as a percentage of total played. How is “Tim sacked for having a worse record than Ramos” sounding as a title?
So was he the best or was he the worst? Beats me. Probably neither. The fact is that Tim had very few draws (just 4 in 28 games), so I would expect that both the win rate and the loss rate have been pushed up because of this.
So I’m not saying that Tim did an especially bad job during his time. However you can doubt the wisdom to publically criticise your players. Even if you are correct in what you are saying it is probably not the right thing to do to say it. After all, if being honest doesn’t get you the results then it is not a good line to pursue. But the point is that by using that one particular interpretation of one particular view of his record he did seek to justify all that he had done. He is saying that you cannot criticise his methods because he was the best manager that Spurs have had.
So did he use the media, and were his decisions bad? Well, that’s just one interpretation.
Have something to tell us about this article?