As I get older I am finding that I am becoming less interested in the players at clubs and much more interested in the managers. What do they do? Are they worth the money? Are they actually needed at all?
Once the team is picked and the tactics discussed, is there anything that a manager can do to influence the game? Does barking instructions from the technical area make any difference to the game? Can the players even hear them anyway? Are the gesticulations and wild hand & arm movements that managers love so much a pre-planned, secret, baseball-esque code that only their players understand? My guess would be no.
This means that realistically there are only 2 ways that managers can have an impact on games. Half-time & substitutions. Therefore I’ve taken a simple look at the effectiveness of half-time in turning a losing game into a points winning game, and which teams are better at it.
Firstly, the chart below shows the number of games that teams have been in a losing position at half-time.
Clearly Reading are the leagues strugglers when it comes down to going in at half-time in a losing position, with Southampton second. Interestingly, both teams have controversially sacked their managers in recent weeks. Does the chart make the decisions less controversial? Surely its fair enough to sack a manager whose teams are consistently being beat at half-time? We’ll come back to that.
Now we need to look at the final results when teams are losing at half-time and the distribution of these results.
It appears to be a tough ask to actually get a win when teams are losing at half-time (less than 1 in 10) which makes it intriguing that the team that have managed it the most are Reading, winning 3 times. Again though, does this tell the full story?
A look at the total number of points gained from a half-time losing position may add some clarity.
At first glance it appears that Reading continue to lead the way in terms of grabbing points in the 2nd half of games, and even Southampton are performing better than some of the better established clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester City. However, the figures can be skewed, for example, if a team is consistently losing at half time they are more likely (based on the averages) to be higher in the chart.
In order to remove this, we need to look at the points gained vs potential points available, i.e. the number of points available when losing at half-time against actual points won.
Unsurprisingly, it turns out that Manchester United are the Kings of the Comeback, winning 67% of potential points when losing at half-time. Everton & Tottenham are performing well with 44% and 40% respectively, however with a league average of only 19%, Reading are still performing well with 23%. Aston Villa bring up the rear having not gained a single point from 9 games where they were losing at half-time. West Ham, Wigan, Liverpool & Norwich should also be concerned, having been in a losing position at half time in over 38% of their games.
What if Half-Time didn’t Exist?
Now its time to answer the original question of the post, “What if half-time didn’t exist”?
The assumption is that, without half time (and the various impacts that it brings), the position that teams are in after the final whistle is the same as at 45 minutes.
Below is the actual Premier League table as of 11/04/13.
The table below shows what the Premier League table would look like without half-time (or with points gained in the 2nd half after being in a losing position, removed).
The teams hardest hit are Southampton & West Ham, both dropping 3 places down the league, whilst the biggest gain belongs to Aston Villa who, due to others points being removed, actually climb 4 places. Arsenal climb into the top 3 at the expense of Chelsea.
Whilst the best performing ‘half-time manager’ appears to be Sir Alex Ferguson, squeezing the highest points percentage out of the team, there has to be a special mention for David Moyes who has managed to squeeze points (9) out of 5 of the 6 games where Everton have been behind at half-time.
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