Between the Lines

"Of all unimportant subjects, football is the most important" – Pope John Paul II

Archive for November, 2010

Level-headed Analysis of the Week

Posted by hakanrylander on November 24, 2010

Former West Ham assistant manager Zeljko Petrovic has quickly moved to shed some light on why he parted company with the club yesterday. In the Sun this morning he is quoted saying:

“The Premier League is a crap league, it is nothing. In truth the level is shocking. Every team has just three good players. If you take those players out of the teams then there are only players left who would not be playing in the bottom team in Holland.”
Interesting analysis coming from the bottom team in the PL. Sort of makes you wonder why West Ham didn’t bring in a number of average players from the Dutch League. Should have been enough to lift them to mid-table security, at the very least.

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Who Deserve the Title? A Semiparametric Answer

Posted by hakanrylander on November 14, 2010

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.

Posted in Academic, Manchester United, Match Reports | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »