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):
||SOT Against Total
||Shooting % For
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:
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:
Eh not so bad.
WE WON THIS GAME?!?!
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).
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:
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.