In Jol we should trust

This is veeeeeery interesting:

This paper evaluates the extent to which the performance of English Premier League football club managers can be attributed to skill or luck when measured separately from the characteristics of the team. We first use a specification that models managerial skill as a fixed effect and we examine the relationship between the number of points earned in league matches and the club’s wage bill, transfer spending, and the extent to which they were hit by absent players through injuries, suspensions or unavailability. We next implement a bootstrapping approach to generate a simulated distribution of average points that could have taken place after the impact of the manager has been removed. The findings suggest that there are a considerable number of highly skilled managers but also several who perform below expectations. The paper proceeds to illustrate how the approach adopted could be used to determine the optimal time for a club to part company with its manager. We are able to identify in advance several managers who the analysis suggests could have been fired earlier and others whose sackings were hard to justify based on their performances.

Download the report here.

Key part:

Martin Jol – Tottenham Hotspur 2007/08 (See Figure 3)
Martin Jol was relieved of his duties as the manager of Tottenham on 25 October 2007 after 113 games in charge. Results from the bootstrapping model showing that Jol’s performance was not only improving, but that it was comparable to the best coaches in England. Only 18 randomised managers were better at the beginning of his tenure, and this had further enhanced to just 1% prior to his release. The model suggests that Jol should not have been sacked based on his performance. The previous season had seen Tottenham narrowly miss out on 4th position in the Premier League and a UEFA Champions League berth to local rivals Arsenal. This may have prompted the kneejerk sacking by the club’s board even though Arsenal’s budget and expectations were significantly higher than that of Tottenham.

9 thoughts on “In Jol we should trust

  1. Interesting to see that Chris Coleman was listed as an unfair sacking.

    Whilst I dont think that Coleman was/is a particularly good manager, I was always amazed that after Sanchez did such a poor/average job of saving us he was given a full time contract after Coleman had been savagely cut off.

    Was it the behind the scenes issues (drinking etc) that caused the problems?

    1. …and given a transfer budget don’t forget…something that Coleman could really have used during his time in charge…

  2. Hard to avoid hindsight and supporters feelings as to whether managers are succeeding or not. Jol is doing better statistically than many supporters feel.

    Coleman had been hanging on for a couple of years always managing to get a good result when one was needed. His subsequent career demonstrates that he wasn’t much of a manager. At the time few supporters felt he’d had a raw deal.

    Sanchez was a completely left field appointment but he did keep us up and seemed to most of us at the time to be talking the talk. The initial performances and the players brought in also impressed. It went pear shaped of course and no one was sorry to see him go and something about him subsequently made him virtually unemployable.

    Of course had Murphy not scored that goal at Portsmouth Hodgson would have failed to have saved us and whilst he’d not have been blamed it’s for sure that his future and ours would have been very different. I suspect that he’d have been Bracewell like in the Championship with too many low scoring draws to get us into a promotion spot and he wouldn’t have lasted the season.

    These sorts of stats don’t do it for me. I feel that I know when a Fulham manager is doing OK and when it’s time for him to go.

    1. I can understand that but I think sometimes it’s instructive to take subjectivity out of it. Modelling like this shows that xyz should lead to xyz performances, and at this point – given data available – they seem reasonable certain of how it should work out.

      If a manager over or under performs in the model’s eyes then that’s at least worthy of consideration. Statistically they’re saying that Jol at Spurs was doing phenomenally well. Whether that’s because his players were underpaid is another matter (presumably that’d skew the model somewhat) – I can believe this might be the case given the way Levy works in the transfer market – but the telling part for me is that if Jol is as clueless as some people like to think there’s absolutely no way he could come up in this sort of model as being among the elite.

      The Coleman thing again comes down to money spent and used, and ultimately he really didn’t get to spend much, so his mid table finishes were probably quite creditworthy. What we see as a manager running out of steam could be the cumulative effects of a lack of investment. He did seem to have an eye for a player, too.

      FWIW, the model suggests that for a good amount of time Coleman was rated very highly, significantly over-achieving, but that by the end of his spell in charge his ‘credit’ was dwindling. But again, had he been given £24m like Sanchez he might have been able to switch things around. Ultimately I suspect his dismissal was more to do with off-pitch issues than on (there was trouble behind the scenes, but we’re entering dodgy territory here).

  3. Isn’t there also an issue though with the short period of time that most managers have and the legacy they inherit.

    Jol at Spurs had a good inheritence. Here it looked good superficially and he’d have perhaps been doing better short term if he’d done little tinkering. Much as Hughes did and after a year it seemed like he’d done well.

    But Jol is in charge of a shake up which he has decided to take on rather than postpone. The outcome is very uncertain right now.

    Coleman had a very good inheritence. Great players who just needed some confidence. Diminishing returns set in not helped by his not having much money to spend. Overall therefore the stats overrate him IMO.

    I don’t mind stats and they’re never less than interesting but they are a long way from the whole story.

    1. I guess the fact that he took them to second in the league and one kick away from the Champions league (which no coach for them has got anywhere near since).

      Even if he was just helping the Mourinho model on its way, he managed to maintain it throughout that season and get damn close to winning the league. He did something right because after the acrimonious departure of Mourinho, you would have predicted it all falling apart.

  4. “In Jol we should trust”

    To do what exactly?
    Impose his will upon the squad? Encourage the average, extinguish the brighter minds and to turn off the lights before he leaves?

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