Don’t Let Facts Cloud Your Judgement: A Stats Piece

Credit Graham Burrell

I hadn’t planned another article today, I really hadn’t.

The problem is the game, and the reaction has been going around in my head all day. I even dreamed about it, and not just losing, but weird interpretations of the negative reactions. I’m utterly baffled by the people say that was the worst performance of the season, I think the context of the win, opposition and being at home made it worse than Morecambe, for instance. I’ve already seen people saying they’re not interested in the stats, they know it was bad. I like that attitude, a bit like saying ‘I read To Kill a Mockingbird and I don’t care what people say, it was shit’. It’s that very definitive appraisal of a subjective situation that fascinates me. I love how I can call a game one way, but a hundred others call it a hundred ways. I’ll be honest, I’m trying to avoid social media now because I get quite down about how people react, which is stupid because it isn’t something I should bother about. But, when I already see people calling Appleton arrogant and one dimensional, I feel like giving up football altogether. Five months ago he had us 90 minutes from the Championship, and now he’s to blame for us being midtable. Wow. Genuinely, wow.

Credit Graham Burrell

Anyway, whilst I can’t get into that too much because I’ll end up losing friends and followers, I can look at the only indication we have as to how bad (or good) the performance last night actually was. Yes, I’m talking about stats. I’m a firm believer that when things go well for a club, we often ignore the negatives (only to pull them out when it suits an argument in some respects), whilst at other times the poor moves and passes are accentuated by your own anger, rather than them being the norm. What I aim to prove here is that we were not that much worse than some games last season.

I’m once again writing this without checking the stats first, but I wondered if the Wimbledon game really was that bad. To balance my findings, I’m going to take five matches, this season and last, and compare the stats. Have we really got worse at passing? Do we really go backwards more? Do we really create less?

Credit Graham Burrell

Here’s a couple of things for you to consider first. If you’re a ‘To Kill a Mockingbird is shit’ type, who is not willing to open their mind to any other possibility, then thanks for your support, this is where we’re best agreeing to disagree. There’s bound to be something else on the site you like, enjoy browsing. Secondly, I do know that football is about wins and defeats, by my base belief this season is we’re 9/11s of the way towards being a complete team, and that actually much of the disappointment is not because we’re so much worse, but because we’re trying to compare to last season, which is unfair. Thirdly, I know this proves little definitively, but it is intended to add some context and realism to some of the sensationalist reactions I’ve seen over the past 12 hours or so (yes, even though I’ve been trying to avoid social media).

I have plucked four games to compare with; Wigan and Rochdale at home last season, Fleetwood at home this season and Morecambe away. As a balancer, I’ve also put our 3-0 win at Gillingham in there, a performance widely regarded as one of our best last season. The latter is my idea of our worst performance this season, whilst I’ve added the others as matches we won and lost each season. I’ll look at passing, shooting and a few other metrics, to see genuinely where we were on the ‘poor’ scale last season; very, slightly, or just plain old ‘poor’.

Page 2 – Passing

Page 3 – Attacking