The third instalment of Vital Liverpool’s latest serialising of editor Gavin John Day’s acclaimed Clear As Day football column…
During the course of the past season Vital Liverpool editor Gavin John Day has continued to pen his monthly Clear As Day column for LFC fanzine Anfield Roar.
With the campaign now over we are delighted to be able to share these articles with you and will be publishing the series at regular intervals over the coming weeks.
In this instalment, the third Clear As Day of the 2013-14 season, Gavin looks at how misleading statistics can be in the world of football.
Clear As Day 2013-14 #3
Originally published: October 2013
The phrase ‘lies, damned lies and statistics’ is often used to describe the persuasive power of numbers and how they can be manipulated to evidence a certain point of view.
Although perhaps more pertinent in a financial or political context, it is something which can also be seen with regularity in a football setting.
Each week when writing about Liverpool, in particular when compiling match previews, I find myself trawling through endless pages of facts and stats which purport to give an indication of form or player ability etc.
Sometimes, for example, a particular titbit may say ‘Team A has beaten Team B in each of their past five meetings’, which on the face of it could represent an important pointer towards the potential outcome of an upcoming match.
Dig a little deeper however and it might well be that all five matches took place in the 1960s and therefore it provides no relevant indicator at all.
This is of course a very basic example but the subject is something I thought about in the build-up to Luis Suarez’s recent return from suspension.
At the time there was a lot of talk doing the rounds concerning how his comeback could have a negative effect and destabilise the team.
A figure readily banded about to support the argument stated that when Suarez was absent Liverpool had a 22% better win percentage than when he played (61% without compared to just 39% with).
And indeed, at the time at least, it was true; 11 wins in 18 games without him and 30 wins in 77 with.
Some journalists consequently reported the evidence to leave him out as being compelling but we can hardly regard the figures as a fair, like-for-like comparison given the difference of 59 matches played.
In reality almost any team in the world would be made better by the presence of Suarez in their line-up, controversies included, and so it has proved.
His presence alongside Daniel Sturridge has reinvigorated the early stages of our campaign and at a time when we had started to see some cause for concern against Swansea City and Southampton.
There is a feel good factor around the club currently and even the national media and supporters of other teams have noticeably praised the job Brendan Rodgers is doing.
Statistically speaking however, Rodgers’ record is only fractionally better than that of his predecessor Kenny Dalglish, who, despite being a living legend in the eyes of Kopites, is generally regarded as having struggled during his second spell at the helm.
The overall figures for Dalglish’s second coming: P74 W36 D16 L22. Which equates to a win percentage of 48.65%.
Rodgers at the time of writing? P63 W31 D16 L16. A win percentage improvement of 0.56% over Dalglish to 49.21%.
Arguably, as with the Suarez debate, most people’s thinking is based on the perception, misplaced or otherwise, which is given off by the press.
However, even if there wasn’t an air of positivity around Anfield, it is clear we are a better club than two years ago but you can still find evidence to counter that claim if you look hard enough.
Rodgers is yet to win anything other than plaudits, for example, whereas King Kenny at least lifted a trophy, but all the hard work being done behind the scenes to ensure we continue to improve and are run in a more sustainable fashion will hopefully continue to bare fruit.
Liverpool fanzine Anfield Roar is a FREE monthly publication bringing LFC fans a plethora of news, views and opinion. Click here to find out more and to subscribe…
Previous articles in this series
Clear As Day Issue 1
Clear As Day Issue 2
Clear As Day Issue 1
Clear As Day Issue 2
Clear As Day Issue 3
Clear As Day Issue 4
Clear As Day Issue 5
Clear As Day Issue 6
Clear As Day Issue 7
Clear As Day Issue 8
Clear As Day Issue 9
Follow Gavin on Twitter @superbag
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