Fantasy Stats Blog: Could Messi Have Saved QPR's Season?

Fantasy Stats Blog: Could Messi Have Saved QPR's Season?

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Nice suit

Back in January I wrote a hypothetical article contemplating where Hull City would be if they had signed Pele (original article here).  As I’m now getting bored waiting for the new season to start, I thought i’d have some fun and see what might have happened if QPR had signed the best player in the world, Lionel Messi.

So here’s how it works:

  • Messi scored a goal every 57 minutes in the Spanish League last season
  • I assign Messi’s goal ratio to an existing QPR player
  • Goals only count if the QPR player was on the pitch at the same time Messi’s goal ratio dictates (i.e. every 57 minutes)
  • If the player had actually scored in a game where Messi’s goal ratio dictates a goal scored, then only one of the goals count
  • Points and goal difference are recalculated to create a new end of season table.

Messi QPR

The player I have decided to replace is Adel Taarabt, for two reasons.  One is that Taarabt is an attacking player and it would be crazy to swap Messi with, say, Clint Hill.  Secondly, Taarabt played the most minutes at QPR last season of any attacking player and actually (along with Clint Hill) played the most number of  games.  To digress slightly, the centre forward with the most appearances is Bobby Zamora with 21, followed by Djibril Cisse with 18.  Compare that with the other Premier League strikers and it tells a story in itself:

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Would QPR have done better with more consistency?

So, an example of how this works:

In the first game of the season, Taarabt played 90 minutes in a 5-0 defeat to Swansea.  Obviously he didn’t score.  However, by replacing him with my fictional Messi, QPR did score, in the 57th minute.  Sadly, the only difference this makes is to the goal difference.

Here we go then, the following are last seasons fixtures, with actual and ‘Messi’ figures:

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Hooray for Messi!

The Messi factor has made the difference in 15 out of the 38 games with 4 losses being turned into wins, 9 draws becoming wins and 2 losses being turned into draws.

The slow start, i.e. no points difference in the first 7 games is due to Taarabt not playing in 4 of them, meaning that Messi didn’t play either, and the fact that Taarabt scored in the following 2, thus cancelling out Messi’s goals.

An alternative view of the QPR points gain by team is below:

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Messi’s QPR profit the most against Reading and Wigan (4 points apiece) whilst the teams that didn’t have any points difference include Swansea, Fulham and Arsenal.

Coincidentally, QPR now end the season with the same amount of points as Messi’s goals per minute ratio – 57.  Don’t you just love it when numbers do that!

As well as a huge points difference, the goal difference also increases dramatically with an extra 34 goals.

Now the bit we’ve been waiting for, the recalculated league table.  This is what the league table may have looked like if QPR had signed Lionel Messi:

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So there we have it, the answer is a resounding YES, Messi would have kept QPR in the Premier League.  Not only that but  his goals would have propelled them up the league into 8th!

As well as QPR, 2 other teams would profit from QPR’s success, these being Chelsea and Southampton due to an improved goal difference, however Norwich and Stoke are worst hit (in terms of position) both dropping 3 places.
Of course, the actual team that suffers the most is Newcastle, dropping down into the Championship (thanks to Mike for pointing out my original oversight in not taking GD into account when creating the table and condemning Sunderland to relegation).

Whilst all of the above is fantasy, there is an important message there for the teams that are coming up into the Premier League this season.  Sign Messi.  Simple.  And if you can’t sign Messi, sign someone else who will score 34 goals.

There’s loads of them available.  Aren’t there?