In the Belgian premier league in 2008/2009 Sporting Anderlecht and Standard Liege completed the season with the same number of points. Although Anderlecht had the superior goal difference, a play-off match was organized to decide the championship and Standard Liege won it. But did they really deserve the title?
Gery Geenens at the University of Melbourne, Australia has taken a closer look at this crucial question and tried to investigate which team was really the best through statistical modeling, using a semiparametric (don’t ask!) model. Among other things he points out that the semiparametric nature of the model grants it a great flexibility and allows the identification of previously ignored patterns. Maybe it’s now time to put this flexibility to good use and apply similar methods to ascertain whether United deserve to be in the top three of the PL at this moment.
Leaving aside the finer points of statistic modeling, it looked pretty obvious for about 80 minutes against Villa yesterday that we don’t deserve to be even in the top half of the table. Looking at the team-sheets you expected Villa to struggle in central midfield, but it turned out quite the opposite. For much of the second half Villa played us off the park. But judging from the last 15 minutes, we deserve to be champions. Why didn’t we see any of that drive, energy and penetration during the first 75 minutes?
So where does this leave us from a semiparametric point of view? Any readers with special insight into statistic modeling are most welcome to contribute!
Note to Fergie: Put Marc Albrighton on your shopping list.
I’ve only been able to find an abstract of Dr Geenens’ report, and I’m therefore unable to reveal who actually deserved the Belgian title in 2008/2009.