Monday, 23 September 2013

Self-Harming Sabermetrics

Early in the season it is possible to determine which clubs have spent wisely over the previous transfer window and which clubs have overpaid.

The table below details the top 20 net transfer spends by clubs in the Summer Transfer Window i.e. the total spend minus the total sales.
The points per game from season 2012/13 is then compared to the points per game to date in 2013/14 and the differential highlighted.

Obviously, there are holistic inputs that distort the data but, by undertaking the comparison prior to significant inputs from both European and domestic cup competitions, it is feasible to make valid comparisons.

The table is ordered via differential (where + indicates a points/game improvement and - indicates a poorer performance in the current season).
It should be noted that the biggest net spenders, Monaco (£140m), together with Cardiff City (£33m) cannot be so compared due to being promoted teams. Although as Monaco sit top of Le Championnat, it would appear, in the former case, at least, that the money was well spent.

* indicates new manager for season 2013/14.

Inter Milan £20m; 1.42; 2.50; +1.08*
Fenerbache £24m; 1.79; 2.40; +0.61*
Southampton £34m; 1.08; 1.60; +0.52
Arsenal £29m; 1.92; 2.40; +0.48
Liverpool £21m; 1.60; 2.00; +0.40
Barcelona £26m; 2.63; 3.00; +0.37*
Real Madrid £62m; 2.24; 2.60; +0.36*
Swansea City £20m; 1.21; 1.40; +0.19
Chelsea £60m; 1.97; 2.00; +0.03*
Bayern Munich £21m; 2.68; 2.67; -0.01*
Manchester City £93m; 2.05; 2.00; -0.05*
Dynamo Moscow £42m; 1.60; 1.44; -0.16
Paris St Germain £71m; 2.18; 2.00; -0.18*
West Ham United £20m; 1.21; 1.00; -0.21
Norwich City £22m; 1.16; 0.80; -0.36
Dynamo Kiev £36m; 2.10; 1.70; -0.40
Galatasaray £20m; 2.09; 1.50; -0.59*
Manchester United £29m; 2.34; 1.40; -0.94*

There are some key points that jump out from this data:
  • Manchester United, despite the changes in their hierarchy, have spent poorly but it is a moot point how much of the deterioration in points/game is due to Ferguson leaving. Moyes is evidently out of his depth. In the opposite sense, Walter Mazzarri is a vast improvement on Andrea Stramaccioni at Inter.
  • Manchester City, despite the victory in the derby yesterday, are performing slightly less well this season despite parting with the second highest net spend of just short of £100 million. Although oodles of adulatory column inches are written about the alleged value of MCFC Analytics, £93 million is a lot of money to spend to stand still.
  • Several teams whose sabermetrics are contracted out have spent money in a self-harming manner with Norwich City, Dynamo Kiev and West Ham United being obvious candidates in this area. Chris Hughton and his advisers will most likely be next in the Premier League Sack Race following the dismissal of Sunderland's Paolo Di Canio this weekend - Norwich, the 14th biggest net spend in Europe producing just 1 win and three goals in 5 games.
  • Sabermetric wisdom is most in evidence, after other factors such as change of manager have been removed, at Southampton, Arsenal and Liverpool which, when one considers all the mainstream media garbage thrown at Southampton for sacking Nigel Adkins and the focus on ownership disruptions, Arsenal for persisting with Arsene Wenger and Liverpool for virtually anything that ever occurs on Merseyside is most revealing.
It goes without saying that this data should be regarded as having large error bars around it.
It is just an early season slice across time - Norwich and the two Manchester clubs might all enjoy 10 game winning streaks now.

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