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.

TSR.png

rollingTSR

PDO

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.

Let’s analyze Slavisa after just 7 games!

(by timbo)

As I mentioned yesterday, Fulham’s TSR has increased whereas the Shooting % has decreased in Slavisa Jokanovic’s 7 games in charge. This is a very small sample size, and barely half of what Kit’s is, but it’s still illustrative of the changes he’s made.

Below are four graphs. The first set is Fulham’s TSR and then PDO under Kit, the interim period (weren’t like 3 people in charge then, including Alan Curbishley?), and Slavisa.

The second set is Fulham’s Shots on Target Share (i.e. our % of a match’s total shots on target; if we have 3 and our opponent has 7, we have 30% SoT Share) and Shooting % (how many shots on target result in goals). There’s also our Danger Zone Shots For % and Danger Zone Shots Against %.

TSR & PDO

Notice the TSR uptick under Slavisa? Despite our overall bad TSR metric (see yesterday’s post), we’re actually trending upwards, ever so slightly.

The defense, Kit’s achilles heel, is actually improving ever so slightly. We’re giving up 1 less shot in the Danger Zone per game than before (6.3 to 5.4). That might not sound like much, but our offense was carrying this team in a very unsustainable way.

And the second set of images:

Shooting % & DZ %.png

Holy crap our shooting has nosedived, especially in the Danger Zone. This may contradict what I wrote about our TSR improving, but that’s why it’s helpful to look at these things in many different ways.

Part of this is because:

  • We’ve played some very good opponents since Slavisa took over. Hull are currently in an automatic promotion spot. Derby and Sheffield Wednesday are currently in the playoffs. Wolves were a top-10 team in mid-January. Blackburn, despite having the then-tied-for-worst-offense, has a top 6 GA defense.
  • He’s kept the same formation between matches just once (Kit changed formations once in his 16 games in charge).
  • If you count his first game as zero, he’s averaged 2.6 changes to the starting lineup between each match (Kit averaged 1.5).
  • Ross McCormack missed a match where we had but 9 shots total, 2 on target (remember, this is only a 7 game sample size).
  • Just watching the team you see a new offense: whereas before the offense was an open, exciting/frantic give-and-go system that too often exposed the defense; now we’re possessing the ball and playing with a high line.
    • On average we’re still shooting the same amount of times, but far less on target and much less in the Danger Zone. This isn’t surprising when you introduce an entirely new offense half way through the season.

Slavisa was given half a season to try different things to see what will work for next year. He’s clearly attempting that, and some metrics are taking a slight hit.

It will be fascinating to see where these numbers, and the team’s results, go in the remaining 15 matches this season.

 

Championship Advanced Stats

(by timbo)

I’ve been keeping advanced stats for Fulham all season long, but I’m happy to announce that I’ve finally figured out how to tally up data for the entire league. Here are the fancy numbers, via WhoScored:

# Team TSR SoT Share Shooting% Save % PDO
1 Hull 0.584 0.621 31.1% 79.3% 1.105
2 Middlesbrough 0.533 0.563 28.9% 84.8% 1.137
3 Brighton 0.545 0.546 29.2% 73.7% 1.029
4 Burnley 0.450 0.510 36.4% 79.5% 1.159
5 Sheffield Wed 0.508 0.555 37.1% 68.9% 1.060
6 Derby 0.543 0.554 31.0% 74.0% 1.050
7 Birmingham 0.476 0.486 30.4% 77.3% 1.077
8 Ipswich 0.515 0.542 28.0% 67.8% 0.957
9 Cardiff 0.475 0.502 30.2% 73.6% 1.038
10 Notts Forest 0.525 0.533 21.2% 78.9% 1.001
11 Preston 0.490 0.507 26.4% 72.9% 0.993
12 Wolves 0.471 0.451 32.3% 72.2% 1.044
13 Brentford 0.472 0.465 30.2% 70.0% 1.002
14 QPR 0.518 0.518 28.5% 68.6% 0.971
15 Reading 0.618 0.592 23.9% 65.3% 0.892
16 Leeds 0.479 0.430 29.6% 73.8% 1.034
17 Huddersfield 0.542 0.523 30.9% 64.5% 0.954
18 Blackburn 0.529 0.578 22.2% 70.7% 0.929
19 Fulham 0.457 0.463 34.1% 66.9% 1.009
20 MK Dons 0.452 0.415 25.0% 70.2% 0.952
21 Bristol City 0.474 0.504 22.3% 59.7% 0.820
22 Rotherham 0.492 0.470 28.3% 61.5% 0.899
23 Charlton 0.386 0.435 21.7% 64.1% 0.858
24 Bolton 0.481 0.452 24.4% 65.1% 0.895

Unfortunately I don’t have a sorting function handy (feel free to copy/paste into your own excel or google spreadsheet), but here’s where Fulham are overall within each metric, with notes in parenthesis:

21st overall in TSR (this means we’re getting outshot a lot, and it’s happening more often than the rest of the league. This is not news.)

19th overall in Shots on Target Share (we’re giving up less shots on target than we’re giving up in total, but 18 other teams are both shooting and conceding on target better than we are.)

3rd overall in Shooting % (our offense is scoring a lot of goals despite not attempting many shots on target. This is probably due to the system we were running under Kit, but that is material for another post. That said Experimental361 dubbed us “Languidly Clinical”—so I guess the ghost of Berbatov still lives with us!)

18th overall is Save % (our Save %, which is essentially ‘Goals Against’ divided by ‘Shots on Target Against’, is where it is because our defense is so atrocious. If you look at the current table you’ll see only Rotherham & Charlton have conceded more goals. The fact this metric is not worse is, in my opinion, a credit to the play of Andy Lonergan.)

11th overall in PDO (this is hard stat to compare each team with, but as the mean PDO is 1, we’re basically where we should be in the table because of our, in the context of of our defense, astronomical Shooting %. Yep, things could be worse.)

One silver lining is that our TSR has been increasing steadily since Slavisa Jokanovic took over. However, our Shooting % has nose dived—presumably because he’s running an entirely different tactical setup.

I’ll write another update this week discussing his first seven games in charge, especially comparing things to Kit and whoever was in charge during the interim period.

Fulham 1-0 Blackpool; Fulham Survive And Yet…

Jesus H Blackpool is but 1 point away from setting an all-time low record for points and yet:

blackpool

Blackpool. Shot. Nearly. Twenty. Times.

This (tragic) dumpster fire of a club is 22nd in total shots for and, thankfully for Fulham, 23rd in shots on target for. Their Shooting %, despite somehow better than Rotherham, is 22nd but not even 24% (i.e. only 1 of their 4 shots on target go in the net.)

As of last month, they barely had 130 DZ shots total in about 40 games. On Saturday they got 5.

And Fulham set out a fairly defensive lineup.

Which may explain whey they had six total shots. Against an opponent that is DEAD LAST in total shots AND shots on target against (Spoiler alert: Fulham also had two shots on target. TWO. But hey, 50% Shooting Percentage!)

Oh and looks like Fulham’s second leading scorer and shot taker was left on the bench, again.

Statistically speaking, this may match may have crossed the rubicon for me. There’s no tenable reason to keep Kit as manager after the Norwich match. The defense is bad, the offense is petering, results are being achieved when they shouldn’t be, and the team selection is confounding.

Any of those in isolation would be acceptable. Two of four? Eeeeep. All Four? Toodle-oo.

Bring Back Hugo … ?

Woah hey maybe it’s time for Hugo Rodallega to get some more minutes? The fella hasn’t started in last 7 games, and although his performances right before his benching were quite bad, our offense isn’t getting that much better without him.

Here are some shot figures, in a table (filtered so no less than 5 shots) and bar (no less than 3 shots) format.

fulham shooters table

fulham shooters bar

For comparison, here’s similar data from early March and late February.

You see Hugo is still our #2 shooter by an absurdly wide margin, despite being benched for the past month and a half.

Things can’t get much worse (okay yes they can) than reintroduce Hugo (and possibly give Kaca more minutes). As of yesterday our Shooting Percentage was 30.69. In the past 8 games where Hugo has barely featured, the Shooting% is 31.37. That’s not a great increase.

But rather than diversify our offense, his absence has resulted in Ross just shooting from distance, by himself, a lot.

I dunno. Just spit balling.

(Say is Adam Taggart still alive?)

Highway to Fulham’s Danger Zone, Part Deux

About this time last year I wrote about Fulham’s terrible defense, honing in on how many shots in the “Danger Zone” they were conceding.

A refresher: not all shots are created equal, and thus attempting or conceding shots closer to the net is easier for your/their offense to score. Shots further away are more difficult to score. Shots conceded in Zones 1-3 are dubbed the “Danger Zone”. You want to shoot there. You dont want to concede shots there.


(courtesy of Michael Caley)

Well guess what, that’s where Fulham concede a metric shitload of shots!

Note part 1: this data is dated March 20, so it’s slightly out of date, but more importantly it’s courtesy of Ben’s wonderful Stats and Snakeoil Blog. (Thanks Ben!)

Note part 2: I took Ben’s data, and modified it to fit the provided shot locations with Michael Caley’s Shot Matrix zone map. Apologies if I violated a few scientific laws; I’m only a dilettante. Full data can be seen here.

Team Shots For DZ Shots For DZ For %
Birmingham City 479 143 29.9%
Blackburn Rovers 548 243 44.3%
Blackpool 396 129 32.6%
Bolton Wanderers 454 186 41.0%
Bournemouth 593 226 38.1%
Brentford 530 188 35.5%
Brighton and Hove Albion 541 207 38.3%
Cardiff City 449 179 39.9%
Charlton Athletic 377 135 35.8%
Derby County 486 179 36.8%
Fulham 468 161 34.4%
Huddersfield Town 521 176 33.8%
Ipswich Town 536 259 48.3%
Leeds United 406 116 28.6%
Middlesbrough 545 216 39.6%
Millwall 467 159 34.0%
Norwich City 583 204 35.0%
Nottingham Forest 531 217 40.9%
Reading 465 185 39.8%
Rotherham United 496 200 40.3%
Sheffield Wednesday 483 193 40.0%
Watford 521 189 36.3%
Wigan Athletic 439 152 34.6%
Wolverhampton Wanderers 472 175 37.1%
Team Shots Against DZ Shots Against DZ Against %
Birmingham City 569 224 39.4%
Blackburn Rovers 494 195 39.5%
Blackpool 607 218 35.9%
Bolton Wanderers 551 199 36.1%
Bournemouth 435 151 34.7%
Brentford 518 184 35.5%
Brighton and Hove Albion 456 180 39.5%
Cardiff City 500 169 33.8%
Charlton Athletic 560 201 35.9%
Derby County 454 164 36.1%
Fulham 558 234 41.9%
Huddersfield Town 516 192 37.2%
Ipswich Town 475 191 40.2%
Leeds United 554 204 36.8%
Middlesbrough 399 157 39.3%
Millwall 479 192 40.1%
Norwich City 354 122 34.5%
Nottingham Forest 482 160 33.2%
Reading 460 179 38.9%
Rotherham United 503 205 40.8%
Sheffield Wednesday 440 180 40.9%
Watford 510 187 36.7%
Wigan Athletic 423 152 35.9%
Wolverhampton Wanderers 489 177 36.2%
Team DZR DZ Shots +/-
Birmingham City 0.390 -81
Blackburn Rovers 0.555 48
Blackpool 0.372 -89
Bolton Wanderers 0.483 -13
Bournemouth 0.599 75
Brentford 0.505 4
Brighton and Hove Albion 0.535 27
Cardiff City 0.514 10
Charlton Athletic 0.402 -66
Derby County 0.522 15
Fulham 0.408 -73
Huddersfield Town 0.478 -16
Ipswich Town 0.576 68
Leeds United 0.363 -88
Middlesbrough 0.579 59
Millwall 0.453 -33
Norwich City 0.626 82
Nottingham Forest 0.576 57
Reading 0.508 6
Rotherham United 0.494 -5
Sheffield Wednesday 0.517 13
Watford 0.503 2
Wigan Athletic 0.500 0
Wolverhampton Wanderers 0.497 -2

There’s a lot of data, but for this post we’re only going to look at the second table. If you were to sort it by the DZ Shots Against metric you’d see that Fulham have actually conceded the most shots in the Danger Zone in the entire Championship (and on par to eclipse last season)!.

DZ Shots Against Plot

Additionally, whereas just 34% of our shots taken are from the Danger Zone, about 42% of our shots conceded is from the Danger Zone. So nearly half of all shots our opponents are taking are almost from point-blank. As of now there’s not a way to deduct DZ Shots on Target from the overall DZ Shots Against, but regardless that statistic is damning.

In a few hours Fulham travel to Charlton, who boast the worst shot totals, nearly worst DZ Shot totals, 6th worst DZ Shots Against totals, and a worst DZ Ratio than us. Should be a terrible, terrible game.

Matchdays 35-40 and no things aren’t improving

Latest dataset is up courtesy of Owain Thomas’ blog The Only Statistic That Matters, and nope it’s not that pretty.

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
Week 35 451 538 0.456 143 177
Week 40 533 632 0.458 167 220
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
Week 35 0.447 32.15 66.66 98.82
Week 40 0.432 30.54 67.27 97.81

There are several warning signs: the immense increase in Shots on Target Against, and the decline of our Shooting %.

sot vs sot against lines

Above we see a major uptick in the SoTA and SoT between matchdays 35-40. How does this happen? Let’s investigate:

Opponent Fulham Shots Fulham SoT Opp Shots Opp SoT
Brentford 16 7 16 8
Huddersfield 10 3 31 13
Leeds 27 8 8 5
Sheffield Wed 14 5 11 4
Bournemouth 19 3 24 11

(Holy shit that Huddersfield game!) In the past five matches Fulham have been averaging 17.2 total shots, 5.2 SoT, 18 shots against, and 8.2 SoTA. That’s worrisome.

Whereas matches 30-35 were all against top 10 opponents, this set was against mid-table oppositions (Bournemouth aside) and was to better show the club’s true standing. And no it’s not great.

But, dig a little deeper. Huddersfield was clearly a statistical outlier (and played with 10 men) and Bournemouth are the best team in the league (and also played with 10 men). The numbers otherwise are quite even if not slightly skewing in our favor. So why the terrible results?

What the Huddersfield and Leeds game show is Variance 101: nine out of ten times Fulham beat Leeds handily, and nine out of ten times Fulham lose to Huddersfield.

Not to mention on another day Fulham might have at least nicked a point from Brentford. The numbers from that, and the Leeds match too, are much more promising than the Bournemouth massacre or the Huddersfield miracle.

Yet that’s why they play the game and we watch. Luck sometimes can even out. No, we’re not a good team by any stretch. But the numbers are showing we’re also not as bad as we may currently seem.

So now, back to data-land, if we stack the difference between SoT and SoTA in each preceding week, we see SoT is keeping pace whereas SoTA is worrisome.

sot total vs sot against total

Regardless, this is having a major impact on our SoT Share, as seen nose-diving below:

SOT Share

Oy vey. Fulham have almost come full circle from where they were under Magath.

Now onto the Shooting % (apologies for the incorrect labels. 1=Week 5, 2=Week 10, etc)

shooting% line

Whereas before Fulham’s Sh% was plateauing within 1.5 points from Matchdays 10-35 (i.e. it wasn’t fluctuating), it recently dipped below 32%, the first time since Kit was named permanent manager.

Unfortunately if you take this all this data and compare it with the club’s rather stable PDO and TSR to date, you come to the conclusion that we’re about where we should be in the table.

pdo tsr graph

Thankfully there are just six matches remaining, with three against teams below us. April 10-18, with home games versus Wigan and Rotherham, and a trip to bottom Blackpool, will be massive.

Not to mention they will be statistically fascinating.

UPDATE: Something I missed in initial post but warrants mentioning: Fulham are leading the league in Shots on Target Against. Yes, 2 more (as of yesterday) than Blackpool. Go about your business.

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.

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.}