Lies, damned lies and statistics

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by BarryWhite, Dec 17, 2013.

  1. BarryWhite

    BarryWhite Well-Known Member

    Sep 24, 2011
    Newburgh, IN
    I remain upbeat about Fulham's performances under Rene including for the most part the defensive performance against Everton. Does the defense need to improve? Yes of course it does. Everton exposed some of this season’s defensive frailties that are neither new nor unexpected but I am convinced the defense has already shown a marked improvement in the last three matches. My hope is that given time and a slightly easier run of matches than Rene’s first four will be at the helm the defense will only continue to improve. Not convinced about a defensive improvement? Let me see if I can be of assistance.

    We first need to deal with the obvious because the marked difference in Fulham's performance has of course has come in the offensive end of the pitch. In thirteen matches this season under Martin Jol Fulham only managed to out shoot the opposition on one occasion and only managed to put more shots on goal than the opposition on two occasions. Rene Muelensteen has managed to duplicate that meager accomplishment in his first three matches in charge. Under Rene, Fulham’s attack has sprung to life and the opposition’s keeper is no longer allowed get a mani-pedi while viewing the match from a lounge chair. Any remaining argument that Jol was the man for Fulham, if any argument remained, has been crushed by the performances the Whites have logged under its new head coach. Both statistically and by the eye test Rene has performed CPR on Fulham’s attack even though thus far his opposition has included what will likely be two top six squads in Tottenham and Everton. I don’t know what training ground changes he has implemented or what kind of pre-game speech he winds up the offense with but whatever cattle prod he has chosen is producing on average a stunning 10 more shots and 3.5 more shots on goal per match since the official leadership change.

    If you accept that Fulham are now pushing more players forward in the attack to achieve the increased offensive output, which I do, then you must recognize that the defense on the whole is more likely to be left with less support which in turn could easily lead to more shots and shots on goal per match by Fulham’s opposition. However, to date this has not been the case. In fact, when comparing the differential between Fulham and its opposition in terms of shots and shots on goal the average shot differential for Fulham has swung from -11.69 to +1.33 per match and the average differential for shots on goal has swung from -3.62 to +1.67 in favor of Fulham. Given that the offense is on average generating an additional 10 shots per match and an additional 3.5 shots on goal per match the math says the defense must be credited with on average cutting out 3 shots and 1.5 shots on goal per match.

    The eye test tells me that Fulham have been putting pressure and creating more turnovers higher up the pitch under Muelensteen then they were under Jol. The Villa match is one of the few in recent memory where Fulham’s dominated the midfield and kept the pressure squarely in the oppositions end. I personally believe this one change is having a positive effect on both ends of the pitch and will be perhaps the biggest key to maintaining the level of performance achieved thus far under Muelensteen.

    I know the famous quote about the three kinds of lies and a three match sampling that includes a dominant performance over Villa can certainly provide a database so small that statistical lies might be inevitable. However, the statistical improvements Fulham have achieved in Rene Muelensteen’s three match tenure are so glaring it is difficult to ignore them. In fact, if you compare the final three matches of Jol’s tenure to the first the matches under Muelensteen the comparison reaches the realms of mind boggling.

    Jol’s final three
    Liverpool away – Fulham 4 shots with 1 on goal, Shot differential -28, SOG differential -9
    Swansea home – Fulham 9 shots with 3 on goal, Shot differential -12, SOG differential -2
    West Ham away – Fulham 10 shots with 0 on goal, Shot differential -13, SOG differential -12

    Muelensteen’s first three
    Tottenham home – Fulham 16 shots with 6 on goal, Shot differential -2, SOG differential +1
    Villa home – Fulham 22 shots with 10 on goal, Shot differential +12, SOG differential +8
    Everton away – Fulham 16 shots with 4 on goal, Shot differential -6, SOG differential -4

    Against Everton in most ways I believe Fulham performed as I expected they would with a few instances of below average performances. There was a willingness to fight back against a superior opponent in the squad that for me was undeniable just as it was undeniable that Everton were the more talented and more deserving squad. I do believe that Stekelenberg had a poor match which contributed to the final score and I also believe the defense got a bit stretched late on by trying to get the second equalizer. These are of course things need to be addressed moving forward to be able to compete against the truly quality sides in the Premier League like our upcoming opponent Citeh.

    Stepping in against the likes of Tottenham, Everton and Citeh to try and right the shipwreck he inherited from Jol is a bit of an impossible dream scenario in terms of achieving results but in the four matches after Citeh the ship needs to be ready to sail when the schedule tide turns. For the record I think we are in for a bit of a pasting by an inform Manchester City squad but after that I believe we will begin to see if Muelensteen has worked some training ground and tactical magic or if I have fallen in the statistical lies trap. Twelve bottom-half of the table points will be up for grabs and that is where the relegation fight truly starts for Rene
  2. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Mar 18, 2006
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    Nicely done, and deserving of a front page, if the Senator agrees!
  3. AggieMatt

    AggieMatt Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Alamo City, Texas
    You're right Barry, it's too small a sample size. While I agree that we're better in attack, I'm not seeing an improvement on defense. I think the Villa numbers skew that result. I'd like to see this revisited after Meulensteen's 8th match. That should give us a decent balance between home and road games as well as opposition strength.

    An interesting note on Everton. They dominated possession and shot margin the whole match and created chances throughout. Did we concede late b/c we stretched more? Or did we gas out, as we've been prone to do? Meulensteen has implemented a different training program for Parker, Karagounis and Sidwell. It'll be interesting to see if that helps their stamina and performance b/c, imo, they are the key to our defensive performance. They just haven't protected the back four enough.
  4. dcheather

    dcheather Administrator

    Jul 29, 2005
    She does.:cool:
  5. LogicalmanUS

    LogicalmanUS Member

    Aug 13, 2013
    Great write-up Barry.

    The difference I see in the attacking style is that it seems Rene has let the leash off for both Kac and Kas, allowing them to roam a little freer, thus making more chances of picking up the ball and running at the defence. The fortune of having Ash back in the side has expanded those roles.

    In addition, as witnessed against Villa and Everton, when the opposition has the ball, at least 10 men are back inside the Fulham half, and rarely get goaded into foraying into the oppos half to retrieve the ball, but simple wait until it's brought into our half, and then they attack the ball with gusto, either forcing the oppos to retreat back into their own half or giving away possession to us. This has allowed the playmakers of Scotty and Sidders to command more of the midfield play and lay it off to the likes of Kac, Kas and Ash to push it up forwards with pace. The other side effect of this is that there are fewer attacks on our goalmouth, thus reducing the opportunity for the oppos to score against us.

    Everton managed to use their left wing pace to get round the midfield and attack directly to the defence, this is something that needs to addressed. Reither had a particularly poor game, imho, against the Toffees and that didn't help.

    My particular interest is what will happen when Helga is again fit? Personally, I hope Rene makes him fight for his place in the line up, as no player should have any 'right' to walk in.
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