Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal wrote an interesting story about the beneficial nature of second-half subsitutes when a team is down. Citing the “Decision Rule” of Bret Myers, a professor of management and operations at the Villanova School of Business, Diamond wrote:
[Myers] concluded that if their team is behind, managers should make the first substitution prior to the 58th minute, the second substitution prior to the 73rd minute and the third prior to the 79th minute.
Teams that follow these guidelines improve—score at least one goal—roughly 36% of the time. Teams that don’t follow the rule improve about 18.5% of the time. He noted 1,037 instances the rule could have been applied and found that managers abide by it a little less than half the time. He also found that the timing of subs has no effect on the team ahead in the score or if the match is tied.
So, how does this stack up with Fulham? Well, according to football365 Fulham have the following record when losing at half time:
Even with a seemingly low point total, we’re actually 4th overall in points per game when losing at half time behind just Arsenal, Spurs, and United. Nonetheless, the following are the 11 matches were Fulham were down at halftime and the second-half subs they made:
- United: Dembele (61), Greening (81) and Gera (90). [Down 1-0, Fulham would draw 2-2.]
- Wolves: Baird (45), EJ (83). [Down 1-0, Fulham would win 2-1.]
- @Blackburn: EJ (78), Gera (89). [Down 1-0, Fulham would draw 1-1.]
- @West Brom: AJ (59), Riise (73). [Down 2-1, Fulham would lose 2-1.]
- Villa: Kelly (58), Andrew Johnson (59), Damien Duff (70). [Down 1-0, Fulham would draw 1-1.]
- @Chelsea: AJ (62), Gera (79). [Down 1-0, Fulham would lose 1-0.]
- City: Gera (45), Kamara (64). [Down 3-0, Fulham would lose 4-1.]
- Brum: EJ (73). [Down 1-0, Fulham would draw 1-1.]
- West Ham: EJ (54), Duff (54). [Down 2-1, Fulham would lose 3-1.]
- @Spurs: Gera (82). [Down 1-0, Fulham would lose 1-0.]
- @Villa: Salcido (62), Davies (68), Gudjohnsen (90). [Down 1-0, Fulham would draw 2-2.]
Hughes made a substitution in every game he was down a man, but he’s never made all three subs at or before the times Myers suggests. Nor does Diamond suggest the possibility of scoring a goal in, say, the 69th minute but still making a sub in 73rd minute. But we can still play with the data (or, at least I think so.)
Only 4 times did Hughes make a sub before the 58th minute, with a 50% scoring-at-least-one-goal success rate.
Hughes made his second sub before the 73rd minute 5 times, which resulted in at least one scored goal 4 times (80%).
Lastly, only once was the third sub made before the 79th minute, in a game that Fulham scored a goal. So that would be a 100% success rate.
So by my count, Hughes’ success rate is about 83% when following each of Myers’ guidelines. Not to shabby, eh? I wonder what Roy’s success rate would be during the 2008-09 season, back when our biggest compliant about the man was he never made subs until it was too late.
Anyway, even if all my math is complete bunk the rub is here:
Dr. Myers said the rule shows that coaches underestimate the significance of fatigue late in a match, which causes them to overvalue starters and undervalue substitutes.
Which is why I’ve always supported an additional sub or two when cup/tournament games go to extra time.