Let’s forget Fulham’s 2015-16 forgettable season


(by timmy; apologies for mislabeling when Kit was fired/Joka hired on a few of these images)

The 2015-16 Season can be told in 3 chapters: Kit, Interim, Joka. Throughout these chapters was the same bad stats, poor defense, inconsistent offense, and otherwise anonymous cast of characters.

Kit was kept on as manager because he initially did extremely well taking over for Magath’s Reign of Terror. Things regressed heavily toward the end, as we crawled toward the finish, but we felt most of that could be attributed to the poor squad composition and PTSD from Felix. I dare you to visit a match report from late 2014-05 and not laugh at the starting XI’s. That wasn’t a team, it was a casserole.

This season was supposed to be different. Summer signings like Tom Cairney, Ben Pringle, Jamie O’Hara, and failed attempt at Lewis Dunk showed the club’s movement toward analytics and the process, over big names well past their prime .

A full offseason of Kit’s philosophy would undo whatever damage and upheaval the past 18 months had left.




But, things never really took off. Inconsistency reigned supreme. The defense kept shipping goals. The offense made up for this with an astronomically high conversion rates, but most knew it couldn’t last. Soon it became evident Kit simply wasn’t the right man, and probably shouldn’t have been kept on over the summer.

There was an interim period where under the guise of Alan Curbishley(?!?) and Peter Grant, furtive gestures were made to Steve Clarke (got fired anyway!), Nigel Pearson (wanted his assistants still at Leicester to come with; good thing they stayed put!), before finally convincing Slaviša Jokanović to leave Israel for London.

Joka corrected the defense, but the that offensive regression we worried about came with a vengeance. A league-high 36% Shooting Percentage under Kit would tumble to a league-average of 29%. DangerZone shots for would also decrease from 36% to 32%, with about a half-less shot in the DZ per game (when you’re only attempting 4 to begin with while giving up 6, that’s a big drop).

SoT Share

Rolling Sh%.png

Shooting% For

Three wins in a row for the first time since 2012 (was that the year?) would be immediately followed with the wheels falling off the bus. 13 goals against in final 5 games. Opponents shots surpassing 19 on 4 of the final 6 games.

The task at hand, already appearing daunting, requires more work than most suspected. Unless Joka can work magic this summer, a long stay in the Championship beckons. The pieces are there, but several of the large ones must be sent away in exchange for additional parts.

dz fordz against

On Saturday this not particularly fun or noteworthy season ends.

11 thoughts on “Let’s forget Fulham’s 2015-16 forgettable season”

  1. Timmy good analysis. Very interesting. I think sadly we have lost our way. The Fulham Board Moneyball tactics have failed. May this season rest in peace. It will take a Leicester style miracle for us to get out of the Championship in three years.

    1. eh, it’s way too early to tell about the “moneyball” tactics. not every player you purchase is going be amazing, but we’ve got a really good young gem in Cairney. Pringle could still come good; the rest…eh.

      this season, for me, was really about how we should’ve let Kit go over last summer (much like last season was how we should’ve let Magath go…). and how I wish football was like American sports: if it were, we should be trading Ross away for draft picks and prospects post-haste.

  2. I honestly think we should have resigned Brede,I spoke to him at the beginning of the season and I made it public knowledge he would have loved to come back,he didn’t want to go anyway,he would have organised Dan Burn and the rest of the defence,thereby we wouldn’t have conceded so many goals ,and we would have got an awful lot more points. As it is now Burn ,Ross,Dembele ,and a host of really good youngsters will all leave,and quite frankly we will have not a lot left,I feel the bad old days are on their way back,

    1. Timmy and Terry I generally agree with your perspectives but coming back to the Moneyball approach. If it worked we would have every Premier team adopting it. I know that some are heavy into player analytics but you need the human element incorporated into the thinking. That requires great football knowledge and experience to pick out the gems. To me this is where the Fulham approach has been left wanting – big time

  3. Three piss poor seasons but for me that’s no indication of what next season might bring.

    Jocanovic ought to be the right sort of manager and Khan promises to back him so who knows. This squad seems fragile and devoid of confidence rather than inherently talentless so the right sort of recruitment and a good pre season and things might be much better next season.

    Or not of course.

    1. Sorry!

      Corsi/TSR = Total Shots Ratio (Corsi means it includes blocked shots. If you ever see Fenwick/TSR, that means it excludes blocked shots. Why? The latter is more granular). Having a high TSR means you’re outshooting your opponents; low TSR means the opposite. Say you’re a team who’s top of the table but with a low TSR: odds are good you wont be top of the table for too long.

      PDO = Not an abbreviation, but essentially determines “luck” or lackthereof. From James Grayson: “PDO is the sum of a teams shooting percentage (goals/shots on target) and its save percentage (saves/shots on target against). It treats each shot as having an equal chance of being scored – regardless of location, the shooter, or the identity or position of the ‘keeper and any defenders. Despite this obvious shortcoming it regresses heavily towards the mean – meaning that it has a large luck component. In fact, over the course of a Premiership season, the distance a team’s PDO is from 1000 is ~60% luck.”
      So, a team with a really low PDO is “unlucky”, & a high PDO is very “lucky” (last season Derby had an *extremely* high PDO when they were leading the league for a bit. They eventually missed the playoffs). If you look at the trend line for our PDO, you’ll see it trends downward. So not only did we stink as the season rolled along, we also weren’t particularly “lucky”.

      DZ = Danger Zone, which are shots that are essentially point blank. Zones 1-3 in the map on this page are considered DZ: http://cartilagefreecaptain.sbnation.com/2014/2/12/5404348/english-premier-league-shot-statistics

  4. I agree that the writing was on the wall last summer and Kit should have gone. By this measure Joka should now go. This may seen harsh but let me explain. For me under Joka the team have picked up the passion and intensity levels, not consistently and it has fallen off when matches have gone away from us but overall it has improved. There are players I would not be upset to see leave but I do feel we have good squad that could be built on. We are under performing. What worries me is Joka has not improved our defensive performance, the root of this issue is indiscipline within team, they do not defend together in a structured way like so many other better teams do. Also our defender do not get close enough to the opposition or do not even bother to mark them. This allows so much space for our opponents to pass the ball through our defense. Think also how many long shots have been scored against us, this happens when there is too much space and players are not closed down or marked. Similarly the high levels of penalties given against us is partly due to players lunging in due to starting further away from the opponent.
    We have to defend as a team, one weak link and a good team will take advantage, today we are pool of disconnected chain links, it is too easy for the other side.
    Joka has tried to fix the defense by playing more center backs, at time four across the back, this has not helped as it the style of defending that is wrong, not the players. The net affect is we lose our wing backs and some attacking options, but we still leak goals.
    The other worrying element of our current play is we take far to many sideways passes and there is a lack of forward movement both on and off the ball. We need to be quicker to attack and be more direct.
    A good manager would have seen these issues and at a minimum started to fix them, this has not happened. It seems far to early to say goodbye to Joka but we need a manager that can coach the players to defend together in a tight formation and attack quickly at pace in a direct manner.
    I am praying for a better season in 16/17…..

    1. Hi Andy
      I agree with your comments. It is also interesting to note that Gray, the assistant coach, because he is supposed to be a defense expert.

    2. What’s interesting is that Joka actually did improve our defense…up until the past month or so when things have gone completely off the rails. There was a period under Joka when our opponents were taking nearly 1 less shot in the DZ. May not sound like much, but its actually significant.

      For me a huge part of our defense still being so terrible is because our offense has completely disappeared. In the past 5 games we’ve scored 4 goals total. our shooting% (i.e., how many shots *on target* result in goals) is a horrid 21%. The 5 games before that it was a mediocre 28%.

      Even Roy, our/the best defensive manager ever, didn’t change things around completely until he had an entire offseason with his own player personnel to work with. Fascinated to see how Joka deals with the club’s roster. There’s going to be a lot of turnover anyway considering the contracts set to elapse, but I imagine many others may be leaving as well.

  5. Thank you for the explanation, though I think ‘PDO’ would leave the layman a bit baffled and it’s not exactly easy to remember. I’ve always thought that charts and graphs should never leave people guessing. The axis (in plural) should always be clearly labelled ; abbreviations should largely be avoided unless space is at a premium ; and definitions or other clarifications should appear in information panels – again, space permitting.

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