Author Archives: timmyg

Fulham’s Offensive Woes in One Chart

Perhaps Bryan Ruiz staying is a blessing in disguise, and Matt Smith returning at the end of the month might be the catalyst Fulham need, because currently they are extremely over-reliant on two players, and two players alone:


(image courtesy of @stats_snakeoil and his great http://statsandsnakeoil.wordpress.com/ blog)

Oy vey.

The “Emergency Loan Window” runs until mid-March right? Might need to do some dumpster diving…

Kit and Fulham’s Regression

In December I (timmy not rich) wrote about how Fulham were doing quite well under new manager Kit Symons. Naturally, things regressed almost immediately. Sorry.

The playoffs, which at the time seemed within reach but required the amazing run to continue, are gone. Relegation looks closer in comparison. Reality is midtable mediocrity.

Seven games have passed since my last post, which has allowed us to really analyze Kit’s reign as there are over four five-game blocks. And when collecting data on matches, five game blocks seem to offer the best sample size.

As Fulham have played 30 games, here is the raw data (courtesy of @owain_thomas and the extremely vital http://theonlystat.blogspot.co.uk/) broken down into five matchday blocks (n.b. Magath was fired after Matchday 7):

Matchdays Shots for Shots against Corsi/TSR SOT total SOT Against Total
Week 5 77 65 0.542 18 24
Week 10 133 125 0.516 44 44
Week 15 194 206 0.485 68 65
Week 20 272 282 0.491 92 94
Week 25 324 372 0.466 106 118
Week 30 380 470 0.447 127 151
Matchdays SOT share Shooting % For Save % PDO
Week 5 0.429 16.66 58.33 74.99
Week 10 0.5 27.27 54.55 81.82
Week 15 0.511 32.36 56.91 89.27
Week 20 0.495 32.61 58.51 91.12
Week 25 0.473 33.01 62.71 95.73
Week 30 0.457 33.85 64.91 98.76

Rather than charting all of these data points on a graph, I subtracted each row from the preceding row to display the changed between each five game set:

fulham stats2

The big takeaways are the gradual but noticeable decrease in Fulham’s TSR (i.e. we’re getting outshot, consistently), and the utter plateauing of our shooting % (i.e our shot selection and quality).

For TSR, just look at the shot charts from that past five games:

bolton

Oh my.

brum

Eh not so bad.

bburn

Dear. Lord.

forest

WE WON THIS GAME?!?!

reading

THIS ONE TOO?!? OKAY OKAY MAKE IT STOP

So as you can see we’re getting outshot significantly, something that doomed us last season when we had 5 managers and the likes of John Arne Riise in the squad (yet, at this point last season Fulham’s TSR was .371. It somehow wasn’t the worst in the EPL, yet, would be far, far worse than current Championship bottom-dwellers Blackpool. Shows how even this league can be…).

Although not dropping at worrying rates, regardless this is not a good omen and something that needs to be addressed in the coming games. I’m a bit unsure if it’s because our offense has seemingly dried up (more on that next), or if our defense is the liability. I defer to other more intelligent folks on that one.

Now onto our Shooting Percentage, which you can see has totally flat-lined since Matchday 16 (that 2-2 draw with Blackpool in early November).

Screen Shot 2015-02-12 at 10.51.31 AM

A nugget of data I found interesting but did not post above is that our passing percentage is actually higher than our opponents in most games; we’re just not doing enough with our shot selection and quality. I need to watch some game tape to determine this, but happy to hear what others think.

Yet despite all this Fulham’s PDO is currently at 98.92 (100 is league average), and has dipped and risen within a few percentage points since Matchday 16. This means were aren’t terribly lucky, but also aren’t terribly unlucky. So we’re about where we should be (look at teams like Derby who have extremely high, or Brighton with extremely low, PDO. Their other numbers are a-okay, which mean their respective fortunes are bound to change soon).

Holistically, what are we to make of all this? My theory is that we’re a horribly unbalanced side and Kit is just a four months into a major rebuild. It may explain the very manic-depressive graph that the great Ben of @stats_snakeoil provided the other day:

Here we see the massive uptick once Magath was fired, followed by a gradual decline that has seen intermittent spikes. It will be fascinating to see if this keeps up for the remaining 15 games.

Speaking of, Fulham will need to somehow play worse (always possible!) in order to get relegated.

Despite the horrid results and performances of late, Fulham are still grinding out results when they need to. Take the total point haul over each matchday set:

Point Haul
Matchdays 1-5 1
Matchdays 6-10 6
Matchdays 11-15 8
Matchdays 16-20 7
Matchdays 21-25 6
Matchdays 26-30 7
35

For every five games Fulham are gaining about 5.83333 points (or, 1.16 PpG). If you add that average to their current total of 35, they’ll end up with about 53.66 points. In the past 5 seasons, 53 points would place you (in descending order): 16, 22, 18, 19, 20. We are currently 18th.

To allay any fears, the teams relegated in 2012-13 each had 54, 51, 41 points. Current relegation places have: 30, 22, 20. Yes miracles do happen, but I don’t see either Millwall, Wigan, or Blackpool earning anywhere from 20 to 30 points over the next 16 games (and read this about Millwall: https://statsandsnakeoil.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/visualising-the-championship-historical-context-charts/) to match the tallies of the 2012-13 season. But that doesn’t mean Fulham aren’t in for a rough ride if they don’t address the things I wrote about above.

Finally, to quote Ben of @stats_snakeoil again (https://statsandsnakeoil.wordpress.com/2015/01/02/visualising-the-championship-an-introduction/),

“While Fulham’s underlying numbers have remained fairly constant, it took a while for their results to catch up. Moreover, the rate at which their GR caught up with their TSR perhaps suggests that the rate at which they have accumulated points since game 10 is also slightly misleading; I would suggest that they are unlikely to continue to rack up points at near title pace throughout the rest of the season and are instead more likely to end up solidly mid-table.”

Feel free to speculate why this is all happening in the comments below. If I am totally misinterpreting the stats, please let me know.

Fulham are doing very well under Kit Symons but you probably already knew that

It’s probably not a coincidence this website hasn’t been updated since: “Kit Symons: the right appointment”.

In all seriousness, what else needs to be said?

Fulham find themselves comfortably (as comfortable as one can be in the Championship) mid-table: almost away from the relegation quagmire, almost within touching distance of the playoffs. Yet Kit’s 15 games in charge is more than each of last year’s 3 managers.

Fortunes could continue improving or regress, so why not investigate the club’s fortunes under Kit’s reign to date and look at some fancy numbers (courtesy of Owain Thomas)

When Kit took over on September 18, Fulham were 24th with just 1 point, 0-1-6, a -12GD, and scored 6 goals in 7 games.

The club’s TSR (Total Shots Ratio; often has strong correlation to points and goal difference) was .503, which despite the terrible record was good enough for 13th overall (context: last season in the EPL Fulham had an awful TSR with .392). Yet their PDO (go here) and Save% were both atrocious, a league-worse 72.2 PDO (100 is the mean) and 49.98 Sv%.

In layman terms, and within the statistical prism, Fulham were not getting horribly outplayed and outshot under Magath (as they were a year prior under Jol). They were simply terribly coached from a tactical standpoint.

Attributing Sv% is tricky, but in my opinion conceding 18 goals in 7 games and having a Sv% under 50% basically means that our opponents had time to “pick their spots” per se. Just take this: in Felix’s final game, Nottingham Forest scored its first 5 goals via their first 5 shots on target. That’s not just absurd, it’s an indictment of the defense.

As these things tend to happen (and something statistician Owain Thomas suggested when Felix was sacked) , Kit Symons saw an immediate reversal in the team’s fortune (what pundits call “new manager bounce”).

As of last week, sans the Sheffield Wednesday game, Fulham posted a slightly decreased 0.485 TSR; but saw improvements in their PDO and Sv%: 92.09 and 59.79 respectively. [Update: as of 12/23 TSR: 0.482; PDO: 94.94 and Sv%: 60.61%]

Translation: the team is about the same in terms of overall shots for/against but has shored up the defense immensely.

Which has then translated to Fulham’s current standing of 13th with 28 points, 8-4-10, -4 GD and 35 goals in 22 games.

Overall Kit as posted a 8-3-4 record in his 15 games as caretaker and official manager of the club. This equates to an amazing 1.8 PpG, which is better than all but 3 teams entire season’s PpG to date. Further context: Magath posted a .142 PpG in the Championship. (Yes, that’s a decimal before the 1.)

If Fulham can maintain this streak over their remaining 24 games, they should end up with about 71 points; not a sure thing for the playoffs but certainly within touching distance.

Kit has also settled on an established 11, with a majority of the subs coming in defense due to the numerous amounts of injuries there. Whereas Magath was making an average of 3+ changes per game, Symons is making a just a hair over 2 per game (and just exactly 2 per game in last 5 games; with a defender involved in 3 of the 5 games).

Intriguingly, the likes of Woodrow, Roberts, David, Hyndman, and Eisfeld, aka the promising youngsters that were the only panacea to Magath’s reign, have barely featured under Symons. Roberts’ late substitute appearance last week was his first action since November 5. Woodrow scored a goal last week from the penalty spot, but hasn’t started since late October and logged just 54 minutes total since then (about 10mins per appearance). David has made the bench once under Kit.

Conversely the reintroductions of Hugo, Burn, and Ruiz have come to define Kit’s stint as repairing the damage done by Magath (and to some extent Rene and Jol).

But if there is one feather to Kit’s cap, it surely must be the emergence of Lasse Vigen Christensen, who has started all 15 matches under Kit and scored 5 times—as many as Ross McCormack.

Kit’s tenure has been thrilling. We should look back and really enjoy what he’s done, and hope it can continue.

Last word on Magath, for now

[by timmy]

A few pieces come to mind when thinking of Magath. The fact they’re about American football and their titles and the specifics don’t really matter as much as their essence.

Piece #1, from a former football player who spent one week at a certain team with a hated coach:

The psychology goes like this: Players used to love the game. They enjoyed their talent and had high self-esteem. If a coach comes along who makes them feel insecure and paranoid, they begin to hate the game. Then they begin to hate the man who made them hate the game. When they hate the man, they hate his agenda. His agenda, in this case, is an impersonal obsession with winning a football game, with (the perception is) little respect for the players who are doing the winning. The result: a player who doesn’t care whether his team wins or loses. And it happens constantly.

The good coaches are malleable, open-minded, humble. The good coaches make it feel like it’s our team, not his team. The good coaches understand that there is a fine line between being prepared and being confounded. The good coaches adjust their approach when they see 53 grown men ready to cry on a daily basis. These are the best athletes in the world. You don’t have to run them into the ground and call them pussies. You simply have to turn them loose. Sure, you must do so intelligently, with the opposing team’s strengths and weaknesses in mind. But you can’t project your own pedantic, inactive analysis of the game onto the athletes who actually have todo it.

Piece #2:

In the 21st century, NFL players are smart enough to distinguish between actual discipline (having a well-structured operation) and the bullshit old-school disciplinarian discipline. They know that a guy like Schiano is being a hardass because a) he gets off on it and b) he doesn’t really know what the fuck he’s doing. If you know what you’re doing, you usually don’t have to be a cock. If you haven’t, read former NFL tight end Nate Jackson’s account of Eric Mangini’s reign of terror in Cleveland for a good idea of just how far these nutjobs can take it.

Study after study has proven there are many good substitutes for Schiano’s redassed brand of leadership, and that it should be phased out of all aspects of American society entirely—in coaching, parenting, teaching, business management, etc. And now most NFL teams are doing just that. You can’t separate head coaches into “player’s coaches” and “disciplinarians” the way you used to. A good NFL head coach wins his players’ confidence by being detailed and having an answer for everything, not by being some stern daddy figure who demands you fight for his grudging approval. He doesn’t demand discipline. He inspires it.

Why Khan Hired Felix and Why He’s Still our Manager

[RA – This fine piece is by Timmy, incidentally]
khanfelixbuck

John Arne Riise mentioned the other day how, after that horrible defeat at Derby, Magath called a late night meeting and announced practice first thing in the morning. Usually days after matches are for recovery. Que the horror.

The practice allegedly consisted of “tactics training” and lots of running.

When I played varsity sports in high school, heavy defeats were often followed by impromptu practices that contained lots of running. Same for those I helped managed in both high school and college. It didn’t matter if the coach horribly prepared us for the game, or if it was just a ‘bad day at the office’. Our actions on the game field had repercussions on the practice field.

I have no record (and done little research) that Khan played sports in his teen years. I can say that he has a lot of business acumen, and probably learned a bit about coaching methodologies I mentioned above while pursuing an NFL team before eventually owning the Jacksonville Jaguars.

And the fact he owns an NFL team, and not say an MLB team (more on that later), in relation to Magath is key.

American Football coaches, by and large, are insane (http://deadspin.com/5958802/coaches-are-freaks). Outside of baseball, no sport has sees much over coaching by managers. They routinely pull 100-hour work weeks. Everything is planned out. Game film is pored over again and again. It’s so intense that last season, one NFL coach had a heart attack while leisurely playing golf. Another had a stroke in the middle of a game.

The response from his colleagues were a shrug.

(Just read this from the now-fired Jim Schwartz: “That’s probably the same way you would talk in the locker room about a player that saw another player get an ACL or have another injury — if you let that affect the way you work, you’re in the wrong boat … Coaches don’t work 100 hours a week because they’re doing it because that’s healthy. They do it because the job requires it. It just is what it is.” Let that seep in.)

Compare that to the methods allegedly reported when Jol was in charge. If the rumors were true, the man rarely showed up to practice. The team was clearly out of shape and horribly ill prepared to do, well, anything. The defense, the bedrock of coaching, was on track to set historic lows.

Khan arrives and sees the mess. No, he’s not a football man; but he knows (or, thinks he does) enough about how teams are supposed to function that the current setup is a recipe for disaster.

But, he’s new. He doesn’t want to pull a Tony Fernandes and make an ass of himself in the first few months on the job. Nor does have the ego (or naiveté) to throw money at the problems like Abromovich or Sheikh Mansour did when they first arrived.

So he waits. Things don’t improve. He has Ali Mac hire esteemed assistant Rene Muelensteen to whip the team into some semblance of shape. Things continue to go sour. Jol gets fired, Rene takes over.

Things change slightly, but not enough. Rene’s reign was too short to make any sort of inferences, but I sense he found him to be too “salesman-y” (anyone who watched his videos on the team’s website will know what I mean; i.e., only speaking in cliches and platitudes) but mostly the results continue to remain poor.

Eventually Khan has enough. He played the modern English/European game to no avail, so now it’s the Puritanical American game. Cajoling is replaced by commanding. Obliging replaced with ordering.

He hires Felix Magath, a man hated in the game for his “methods”. He’s cold. He yells. He demands peak physical fitness. He’s ruthless. In Felix, Khan must have seen a familiar face. And what Felix has been implementing isn’t new to any American athlete or anyone involved heavily in sports. Khan sees him as someone who can whip this horrible, and horribly prepared, team into cohesion before it’s too late.

Well, it was too late. Although we may think otherwise, and have hindsight to prove (somewhat), Khan was a bit off in his belief. But, he still believes in Felix. The work is not done, the time to relax the control has not arrived. So he currently remains manager.

Sure, there’s been ultimatums given but that is to be expected in this hyper-competitive environment.

I mentioned baseball earlier as a comparison to the NFL. Although I can’t speak to say NHL or NBA coaches, baseball managers are a different breed. They have to be considering the long, daily season. Yes, some are “players mangers” and others are “disciplinarians” but it’s all quite relative.

Except for Buck Showalter, current manager of the Baltimore Orioles. And it’s with Buck that I think Felix Magath can learn from, and hopefully follow.

Buck is described as a control freak by many fans. Others would call him an asshole. According to Pat Jordan in a Sports on Earth (RIP) article, “Showalter hates to be called a control freak. He hates it because he doesn’t consider himself a control freak, but mostly, he hates it because he can’t control people calling him a control freak. To assuage his hurt feelings, I offered to call him one of the many other names people associate with him: passive-aggressive, taciturn, sarcastic, caustic, suspicious, paranoid, Machiavellian. He did not laugh.”

(Before I proceed, we could probably apply any of those adjectives to Magath. I highly recommend reading this piece and think about Magath.)

But Buck wins.

…Sort of.

The rap on Buck is (or was) his an uncanny ability of taking underperforming or new teams (New York Yankees in early 90s, when they sucked; Arizona Diamonbacks in late 90s; Texas Rangers in early aughts) and turning them into a contender. But before they could clear that hurdle and become great teams, Buck got fired (each would go on to win a World Series, or many in the Yankees case, or at least appear in them shortly thereafter).

Usually it was a mutual departure.

Essentially, teams got tired of his attention to detail (the man reportedly picked out the Diamondbacks color palette upon his hiring) and players grew weary of his methods and tuned him out.

So it was no surprise to see him hired by the Baltimore Orioles in late 2010, a team that was suffering their 15th (was it more?) straight losing season.

It took a little while to turn the teams fortunes around, but the O’s magically made the playoffs in 2012. They’re currently on par (KNOCK ON WOOD) to win their first division title (not a pennant, just a freaking division title!) in nearly 20 years.

Four years into his current job, Buck has already lasted longer than he did at any of his prior MLB managerial positions. Part of it is probably the team has sucked for so long that everyone will take the warts with the wins. But a bigger part of that is he (reportedly) mellowed out a bit before his Orioles gig. He (again, reportedly as it’s late and I don’t feel like searching for articles to back this up; just going on what I hear) pays close attention to the appropriate things instead of all the things.

Which is what I think plays into the ‘Felix as manager story’ I’m attempting to spin here. As Rich said Felix is still experimenting, the team is still evolving.

I don’t know if it’ll work and whether Felix can survive. I hope he himself can evolve himself and lighten up; and this team and season provides that perfect opportunity. Like Buck who after third time of of being fired only for his team make the World Series just a few years later; perhaps finally being relegated and managing a bunch of 18 year olds in AAA will be that humbling experience.

Results to date haven’t been helpful, but it’s really up to him. I don’t see Khan changing just yet; we need to see Felix do so.

Highway to Fulham’s Danger Zone

By Tim

The fact that Fulham stink, that we’re terrible on both ends, that we can’t control the game anywhere, isn’t news.

But what’s worth exploring is just how bad we are.

Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) of Cartilage Free Captain has some great shot statistics that I highly recommend you check out. But what I want to focus on here is how he divvied up the one half of a football field into several Shot Matrix Zones. The word “matrix” makes even my head spin so bear with me.

Here’s the map:


(courtesy of Michael Caley)

And here’s why divvying the offensive zone is important: conceding shots closer to the net are easier for the offense to score. Shots further away are more difficult to score. This is a very simplistic maxim exists in most other ball/net games.

So, if a defense concedes a higher amount of shots closer to the net than they do the further away, it’s representative of bad defense.

Michael took Zones 1-3 and placed them into what he dubbed the Danger Zone (cue the Kenny Loggins!). Basically, if you’re conceding a high amount of shots from there your defense stin–

OH, OH MY, THAT’S FULHAM FC’S MUSIC!

Fulham are leading the league with 241 shots in the DZ. Next to them is Cardiff with 232, followed by West Ham at 184. If you take the total of all DZ shots (3040) and average it out per club we’re nearly 100 over the average.

Of that total, 92–NINETY FREAKING TWO– are what’s considered on DZSoT, or shots actually target (what Bent is incapable of doing; also somehow Cardiff are one worse than us). We all know how we are repeatedly getting outshot, but this takes that figure to a whole new level.

What about the Wide Shots? Fulham aren’t as bad in that category–17th!–but second worst when it comes to Wide Shots on Target.

What we can glean from this is our opponents don’t need to shoot from odd angles inside the 18-yard box. No, they just can pass or dribble to a better location! (Cue 2nd half highlights from that home Southampton game)

Next up is Shots from outside the 18 yards box, or Zones 6-8.

Fulham are 2nd worst behind West Ham, and just 3 above Cardiff and Sunderland with 242 shots conceded from outside the 18 yard box. 34 of those are on target.

So not only are teams literally dribbling down our throats, we’re affording them time and space from outside the box. Think Mucha at home in September. Or both times Shelvey scored for Swansea. Or or I’ll stop now.

What does this mean? It means we literally cannot defend in any facet of the game. The 5-0 loss on Saturday wasn’t an anomaly, down to some refereeing decision, or because we were playing a team who exponentially outspent us. There is empirical precedent for losses of that magnitude to happen; and will probably happen again this season.

In fact, it might even happen this Sunday!

Although not particularly notable in one specific facet, Everton are still in the Top 8 in Offensive DZS, WS, and SoB. Hopefully the spectre of catching Arsenal/4th place will be a bridge too far for them and they’ll bottle it. Otherwise it’s going to be a long, long day.

So what about our offense?

We’re currently 19th, tied with Crystal Palace on just 117 shots in the Danger Zone. Let me repeat: We are tied with Pulis-ball. Let me repeat again: we are tied with Pulis-ball. For DZ shots on target, we’re tied for 18th with CP, Cardiff, and Swansea at 45. Moving away from the net, we’re not as awful in the wide areas or outside the box, but still in the bottom half of the league.

But our offensive futility is a chicken/egg thing: is it bad because our defense is awful, or is it bad for other reasons? In January we shipped off our moody but still very talented forward, and only mercurial play-maker, and thus have been left with starting highschoolers and the-footballer-formerly-known-as-Darren-Bent. Hence since the start of 2014 we’ve scored 11 goals in 12 games.

What’s the point of all this?

I suppose if this was a business, lawyers would recommend we file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy (or whatever equivalent you guys in England have) and reorganize everything.

(Kenny Loggins cued!)

[Quick tangent: Kenny Loggins looks so 80s in this video but I’m fairly certain the barista that served me coffee this morning looked just like him. Everything old is new again..]

Esteemed Company

By Tim

DID YOU KNOW

Yaya Toure’s hat-trick on Saturday was the 3rd hat-trick conceded by Fulham this season. This stat now ties them with 1994/95 Ipswich, 1995/96 Coventry City, and 1997/98 Bolton Wanderers for conceding the most hat-tricks in one EPL season with 3. (This paragraph has a hat-trick of hat-trick mentions).

All three of said hat-tricks have come in past two months, since Adam Johnson netted his in mid-January. This is worse than Bolton and Coventry who each conceded their hat-tricks over a 3 month span, yet better than Ipswich who conceded their three hat-tricks in just a month. (Ouch. And another paragraph with three hat-trick mentions!)

Ultimately, Ipswich finished bottom (22nd at the time), Coventry 16th (survived on GD, somehow), and Bolton 18th (relegated on GD). We’re probably going to finish somewhere thereabouts.

We could nuance the point away and look at who scored each of the hat-tricks:

  • Yaya Toure (cost City £24m–double our transfer fee record–and arguably Ivory Coast’s best player)
  • André Schürrle (cost Chelsea £18m, wunderkind)
  • Adam Johnson (doesn’t live up to hype/ego, but still cost Sunderland £10m)

Or look at the following chart from Sporting Intelligence (based on 12/13 and even 11/12 accounts) and somehow be surprised this hasn’t happened more often against the bigger teams (blue is transfer fees/yellow is wages):

wages and fees

But if there’s one silver lining to this turd: we’re not as bad as 2007/08 Derby County. And here’s how:

  • Fewest points in a season (11, we’re at 24)
  • They only won once (we’re at 7)
  • Kept just 3 clean sheets all season (we have 4!)
  • Had the worst GD in EPL history (-69; we’re at -40)
  • Conceded the most in 38 game season (89; we’re at 70)

Yet Derby DOES have a better TSR than us, as they posted .377 in 2007-08 and as of last week we had .3747–which may go down considering Saturday’s result.

A Statistical Look at Rene’s Reign

As to be expected, there is much gnashing of teeth over Rene’s sacking. The performances in the past 6 days suggested that maybe a corner had been turned, that maybe this “toilet bowl” of a season was finally getting some draino. Or, *gasp*, the bathroom was finally getting remodeled.

What’s also expectedly absent from so much of the writings are any form of research or analysis of Rene’s reign. But hey it sounds good to say Fulham are the next QPR or Cardiff or Leeds United. And that “madness” has taken over and we hit the “panic button” and that our “absentee owner has no idea who Felix Magath is”. I rarely assume anything different from the sport’s fans.

But pop open the hood and you’ll find Rene’s reign has been a bit of a dumpster fire to put it bluntly. Let’s look at some advanced stats from when Jol got canned to the current day.

{Warning, I’m going to use some of those newfangled things known as statistics. If you’re one of those “stats are bad” types, then just jump to the bottom where I discuss goals. You know, another type of statistic.}

TSR SV% Sh% PDO
Jol 0.316 70.5 27.9 984
Rene 0.371 65.1 25.7 908

In case you don’t know, TSR means Total Shots Ratio, SV% is Save Percentage, SH% equals Shot Percentage, and PDO is Scoring % + Save %. Read full definitions here. These are important because they, especially TSR, usually have a strong correlation to goal difference and points. Also, all stats are from James Grayson’s blog.

The only positive you can really deduct from the above is that Fulham are no longer getting outshot as exponentially as they were before. Each of the remaining metrics were down. It’s not good enough, it’s not sustainable, and the “moral victories” of the past week simply cannot paper over that fact.

For context, let’s look at Tony Pulis and compare what he’s accomplished, arguably with far less than what Rene has had to work with, to his predecessor.

TSR SV% Sh% PDO
Holloway 0.429 58.7 23.1 818
Pulis 0.461 67.9 20.2 881

His god-forsaken style aside, we see that Pulis has increased the teams TSR, SV%, and PDO. In layman’s terms, he’s shored up the defense despite the slight downtick in shot conversion (which is mainly due to his god-forsaken set piece/long-ball system). This is a sign of progress beyond what the current table shows, as standings can occasionally be disguised by smoke and mirrors (HI THERE WEST HAM IN 11TH!). This is why Crystal Palace have gone from regulation certainties to a steady lower/mid table finish.

If you don’t want to read or acknowledge all those fancy stats, here are some more basic ones:

One tenet of Rene’s reign was to go into the half tied at 0-0 or something thereabouts and have it fall apart. In fact, Fulham have been drawing at halftime a league-leading 15 times this season. Of that, 8 were under Rene.

Not bad on the surface, but only twice did Fulham get a result of any capacity in those matches: both wins, both in his first four games, both solitary goals. In total, when drawing, the club conceded 17 goals while scoring only 4 after halftime. Take those two victories away and it’s 2 GF and 17 GA.

Plus plus plus only in one game, his *second*, did Fulham take a lead into halftime and see out the result. Need I remind you we’re currently 20th?

Regardless of how you slice it, regardless of what disaster* of a squad you have, regardless of all the feel-good-emotions we’ve accrued in the past week…that’s beyond terrible.

It was a bungled removal from office. But Kahn really had no choice.

{*Okay, fine, it was a disaster before he got here. Martin Jol should have been fired last spring and we’re reaping that now. Also, MAF should have sold the club earlier or at least attempted to have *some* liabilities for the future owner, and we’re reaping that now. Also, until Mitroglou’s record fee, we’re also reaping not spending more than £500,000 on a striker for nearly 5 seasons (and that was on David Elm!) UPDATE: Since Berbatov, not Mitroglou, which was officially “undisclosed”. And on and on.}

Examining our central midfielders

Apologies if you hated my past post but I want to revist the +/- stat with regards to our four main central midfielders. Again, this stat isn’t a great indicator of causation, but correlation. It also doesn’t occur in a vacuum, as the entire team and certain dynamics of the sport play a hand in the metric. But, along with other indicators, I found it to be quite instructive, as seen below. So consider it more an idea board then a didactic study.

I left out wingers as I wanted to keep the scope on what we’re all in agreement is our main problem area: the center of midfield; particularly the Parker/Sidwell axis. StatsBomb recently did an amazing (and horrifying) job at comparing those two and Kasami to Barca’s Xavi, Busquets, and Iniesta. This is very much like comparing a Hank Williams or George Jones song to a Blake Shelton tune, but what can you do. I also broke up the stats by each manager to see if there’s any differences.

Sidwell

GF GA +/- +/- pG Apps
Jol 10 22 -12 -0.92 13
Rene 10 29 -19 -1.73 11
Total 20 51 -31 -1.29 24

It may seem like Sidwell has regressed under Rene (if “Sidwell” and “regressing” is somehow possible), but 6 of the 29 GA came in that Hull City match. Nonetheless our opponents have scored >3 goals a whopping FIVE times since Rene has taken over and Sidwell is on the pitch.

Parker

GF GA +/- +/- pG Apps
Jol 8 22 -14 -1.27 11
Rene 12 21 -9 -0.90 10
Total 20 43 -23 -1.10 21

Very similar to Sidwell, with the only visible difference is he was fortunate enough to escape that 6-0 Hull City thrashing. Like with Sascha Reither, there certainly seems to be a visceral notion that Parker belongs in the side. But beyond high interception and tackling rates, which as StatsBomb said is most likely down to the oppositions always with the ball/running at him…what are the justifications exactly?

Kasami

GF GA +/- +/- pG Apps
Jol 12 22 -10 -0.83 12
Rene 5 18 -13 -1.30 10
Total 17 40 -23 -1.05 22

This is where it starts to get interesting. Rene’s been using Kasami as a sub for the majority of his league reign–only 3 starts in his 10 games under Rene compared to 11 starts under Jol. This explains why the GF is way down but the GA still quite high. But, considering Fulham scored three goals in the entire month of January, it’s perplexing why he only averaged 15 minutes last month.

Karagounis

GF GA +/- +/- pG Apps
Jol 3 4 -1 -0.17 6
Rene 6 10 -4 -0.80 5
Total 9 14 -5 -0.45 11

I didn’t include Boateng because he had such a small sample size, but thought it would be interesting to see what Karagounis has done with ever-so-slightly more play time. Each manager has treated Karagounis differently: Jol used him as a sub for 5 of his 6 appearances; Rene started him in all his 5 appearances (albeit none since Hull City in December). But if we were to take away that Hull City game, we’d see his +/- to be fairly respectable, despite the small sample size–unlike if we subtracted result from Sidwell’s stats, they’d still be terrible. I’m not sure why Kara hasn’t been playing (hooray opaqueness!), but like Kasami, it’s clear he’s a necessary dynamic that’s being under-utilized.

No one needs to opine how the Parker/Sidwell duo has proved to be detrimental. But the idea behind these stats further reinforce such a notion, and that stems from the fact the two are always playing. Whether it’s down to them or other factors, it certainly feels like we’re at the point where, when we see both in the starting XI, much like seeing a bad #5 pitcher start, we’re going to lose.

I’d argue it’s not one part of the combination that needs to be replaced, it’s the entire recipe. Curious to know your thoughts as well.