Slavisa finally brings stability; Fulham succeed

Fulham finished the 2016-17 (regular) season with a mood not felt nor heard since “Call Me Maybe” was a hit and not a punchline: a success. Statistically, how did Fulham manage to buck this nearly 5-year trend of performances that ranged from historically terrible, to surprisingly good, to maddeningly inconsistent? The answer lies with stability. Managers not sticking with the same lineup can be a double edged sword. Sometimes it shows the manager is constantly tinkering to find which position players will succeed the most. Other times it can show a manager simply can’t settle on who his best players are, and appears to be second-guessing himself. Injuries and suspensions play a role too, but the last few seasons have been anything but stable. Last season, Fulham started 7 different CBs. Six had 8 or more starts. Four different RBs and LBs started; 5 of 7 made double digit or more starts.
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No, football is not like baseball…

Alright! The problem with being a football outsider is that often you find yourself having to speculate about things you can’t really know about. Well that’s fine in a way. This uncertainty has given us the scope to have a good think about what might possibly be happening behind the scenes at Fulham. To recap, it seems to me that the Khans realise that football clubs, and their operations in the transfer market in particular, can be financial disasters, and have decided to stop wasting their money.  I also think that this is something that reasonable people would more or less agree with, even if the approach being taken – as best we understand it – is not for everyone. Now Sam Wallace of the Daily Telegraph has thrown us a bone.
Kline is the architect at Fulham of what he calls the “Both Boxes Checked” system which is intended to give
Continue reading "No, football is not like baseball…"

No, football is not like baseball…

Alright! The problem with being a football outsider is that often you find yourself having to speculate about things you can’t really know about. Well that’s fine in a way. This uncertainty has given us the scope to have a good think about what might possibly be happening behind the scenes at Fulham. To recap, it seems to me that the Khans realise that football clubs, and their operations in the transfer market in particular, can be financial disasters, and have decided to stop wasting their money.  I also think that this is something that reasonable people would more or less agree with, even if the approach being taken – as best we understand it – is not for everyone. Now Sam Wallace of the Daily Telegraph has thrown us a bone.
Kline is the architect at Fulham of what he calls the “Both Boxes Checked” system which is intended to give
Continue reading "No, football is not like baseball…"

Defending Slaviša Jokanović

Yesterday’s post earned me some interesting feedback, and I thank those who took the trouble to read. As most could see I was not in any way attempting to suggest that we replace the manager behind our legendary/extraordinary start to the season with an American baseball robot, and to that, I remain aware of the myriad differences between football and baseball. But I stand behind the view that there are decent principles behind what the Khans are attempting. Whether they get it right remains to be seen, and of course sceptical supporters have some reason to question things, but my opinion is that they’re at least facing in the right direction.  Whether their next step is forwards or backwards is anybody’s guess, but we can forgive fans for fearing the worst. There’s a big elephant in the room here though. Slaviša Jokanović has been very frank about his views on the
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Defending the Khans and analytics as they apply to Fulham FC.

“The League Managers’ Association has revealed that in the Championship, where there were 20 dismissals in the recently-completed season, the average spell in charge is just 0.86 years.”
Presumably each of these managers knows exactly what his team needs to do to win when they’re first brought in. First he’ll use his superior abilities as a coach to make the existing players better. That will be the start.  But then he will note that he now needs to spend a bit of money. A lot if possible. While he is a fine coach and will use his good attitude to do what he can with the players he has inherited from the lesser coach from before, he does need better players if ambitions are to be achieved, they need to be his players, players to fit his system.  Five or six of them.  Maybe more. He’ll do his
Continue reading "Defending the Khans and analytics as they apply to Fulham FC."

Defending the Khans and analytics as they apply to Fulham FC.

“The League Managers’ Association has revealed that in the Championship, where there were 20 dismissals in the recently-completed season, the average spell in charge is just 0.86 years.”
Presumably each of these managers knows exactly what his team needs to do to win when they’re first brought in. First he’ll use his superior abilities as a coach to make the existing players better. That will be the start.  But then he will note that he now needs to spend a bit of money. A lot if possible. While he is a fine coach and will use his good attitude to do what he can with the players he has inherited from the lesser coach from before, he does need better players if ambitions are to be achieved, they need to be his players, players to fit his system.  Five or six of them.  Maybe more. He’ll do his
Continue reading "Defending the Khans and analytics as they apply to Fulham FC."

Coping without Ross McCormack

What happens when you lose a 28 goal striker?! (And Matt Smith, as it happens).  First set of tables is Leeds pre and post McCormack sale.  Tables below show what happened when Watford sold 24 goal Danny Graham to Swansea. In both cases the team was not harmed. ross Graham
Filed under: General

Coping without Ross McCormack

What happens when you lose a 28 goal striker?! (And Matt Smith, as it happens).  First set of tables is Leeds pre and post McCormack sale.  Tables below show what happened when Watford sold 24 goal Danny Graham to Swansea. In both cases the team was not harmed. ross Graham
Filed under: General

Let’s forget Fulham’s 2015-16 forgettable season

  (by timmy; apologies for mislabeling when Kit was fired/Joka hired on a few of these images) The 2015-16 Season can be told in 3 chapters: Kit, Interim, Joka. Throughout these chapters was the same bad stats, poor defense, inconsistent offense, and otherwise anonymous cast of characters. Kit was kept on as manager because he initially did extremely well taking over for Magath’s Reign of Terror. Things regressed heavily toward the end, as we crawled toward the finish, but we felt most of that could be attributed to the poor squad composition and PTSD from Felix. I dare you to visit a match report from late 2014-05 and not laugh at the starting XI’s. That wasn’t a team, it was a casserole. This season was supposed to be different. Summer signings like Tom Cairney, Ben Pringle, Jamie O’Hara, and failed attempt at Lewis Dunk showed the club’s movement toward analytics and the process, over
TSR.png
rollingTSR
PDO
SoT Share
Rolling Sh%.png
Shooting% For
dz for
dz against
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Let’s analyze Slavisa after just 7 games!

(by timbo) As I mentioned yesterday, Fulham’s TSR has increased whereas the Shooting % has decreased in Slavisa Jokanovic’s 7 games in charge. This is a very small sample size, and barely half of what Kit’s is, but it’s still illustrative of the changes he’s made. Below are four graphs. The first set is Fulham’s TSR and then PDO under Kit, the interim period (weren’t like 3 people in charge then, including Alan Curbishley?), and Slavisa. The second set is Fulham’s Shots on Target Share (i.e. our % of a match’s total shots on target; if we have 3 and our opponent has 7, we have 30% SoT Share) and Shooting % (how many shots on target result in goals). There’s also our Danger Zone Shots For % and Danger Zone Shots Against %. TSR & PDO Notice the TSR uptick under Slavisa? Despite our overall bad TSR metric (see yesterday’s post),
Shooting % & DZ %.png
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Championship Advanced Stats

(by timbo) I’ve been keeping advanced stats for Fulham all season long, but I’m happy to announce that I’ve finally figured out how to tally up data for the entire league. Here are the fancy numbers, via WhoScored:
# Team TSR SoT Share Shooting% Save % PDO
1 Hull 0.584 0.621 31.1% 79.3% 1.105
2 Middlesbrough 0.533 0.563 28.9% 84.8% 1.137
3 Brighton 0.545 0.546 29.2% 73.7% 1.029
4 Burnley 0.450 0.510 36.4% 79.5% 1.159
5 Sheffield Wed 0.508 0.555 37.1% 68.9% 1.060
6 Derby 0.543 0.554 31.0% 74.0% 1.050
7 Birmingham 0.476 0.486 30.4% 77.3% 1.077
8 Ipswich 0.515 0.542 28.0% 67.8% 0.957
9 Cardiff 0.475 0.
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Fulham go moneyballing for gold

Football and analytics fight! This has been going on forever in baseball, so no shock to see it happening here, now, either.  Worse, much of what the likes of Bill James discovered in the 70s and 80s was more or less indisputable, but it still took until relatively recently for his ideas to take hold.  Now all baseball teams (it really is all now, I think) embrace analytics, looking for an edge anywhere they can find it. Football is harder.  Anyone unconvinced with the whole notion will tell you that: instead of discrete batter v pitcher matchups, football is a fluid game with indefinite happenings.  Chain reactions abound. There’s more noise than… not noise.  It’s a minefield, it really is.  But still, you look for edges where you can find them, right? Better to spend £250k on a middle of the road midfielder from
Mattila.png
Madl
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Roy Hodgson book now on Amazon

Hi Still here.  I will write more soon. I just wanted to give a heads up: my Roy Hodgson book is now available as a paperback on Amazon.  It’s a proper paperback format, and I’m pleased with how it’s come out. The link’s here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Roy-Hodgson-Football-biography-Englands/dp/1499640773/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1454240532&sr=8-2&keywords=roy+hodgson The initial self-published paperbacks sold out, so this is your chance.  I’ve re-read it, and I think it still stands up quite well. cpver
Filed under: General

Why Kit Had to Go

(by timbo) What to say about Kit Symons that hasn’t already been said? We got our immediate bump when he replaced Magath, but have essentially plateaued for the past calendar year. Our offense is on fire and something to behold when fully functioning. The one-two passing and fluidity were such a reprieve from the nebulous Magath and static Jol era. And it worked: currently we lead the league in goals scored and shooting percentage. Our PDO is second to Boro. Yet this type of offense would be Kit’s undoing, as the defense would be exposed whenever our midfielders moved upfield. It was also due for a major regression (those numbers weren’t going to keep up with a defense this bad). Speaking of, stating our defense is bad is now akin to saying iTunes sucks. It’s been so bad for so long we’ve sort of just accepted it. Ted Knutson, creator
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Those final 15 minutes vs Charlton

(by timbo) Sometimes leads are blown because the lead was perilous to begin with, a result of some fluky behavior and good fortune, and it catches up with the team as some sort of metaphysical reckoning. Other times it’s bad luck or a momentary lapse in judgement, a result of some cruel joke by Loki. And then there are other times when you’re two goals up with 10 minutes plus stoppages to go. Then but fifteen minutes later,  you are no longer two goals ahead but instead level with your opponents. And it’s because you made a Gamble when you should have probably just, oh, I don’t play cards but you know what I mean. In the first 80 minutes of the game, this was Charlton’s shot chart: first80 In the final 15, it was this:final15 Numerically, they had slightly more shots in the first 80 minutes. But only 4 of the 12 were in the
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Thoughts on the QPR thrashing

A win that raises all sorts of questions. What is the modern Fulham? The team that crushed QPR 4-0? Or the team that has been beyond ordinary for as long as we can remember? Realistically you have to err on the side of caution, but just as there were reasons to be negative before, there were plenty of reasons to be cheerful on Friday too. I think this was a crucial win in this respect. Few of us, I suspect, felt that the team had this kind of performance in them. That being so, where did it come from? 1) Ryan Tunnicliffe is not as good a footballer as some of the recent centre-midfield candidates, but he has a role and he sticks to it. Without overplaying this, a few of us have been moaning about this for ever. Football is a team game and sometimes you need less talented
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Fulham 2015-16 Stats

Timbo here! Here’s a link to a google spreadsheet I will be updating with data from each match (or, I hope to keep updating): Fulham Data. Notes:
  • It’s still very early, so there’s been a lot of wacky variance within and between each match (see: the PDO in our opener, our Sv% at Hull and then vs Huddersfield…)
  • Our PDO is about at league average, so we’re not lucky nor unlucky.
  • Despite getting, for all intents and purposes, a new back line our defense is still abysmal. Nearly 50% of our opponents shots are in the ‘Danger Zone’ (80% of Sheffield Wednesday’s were in the DZ!), and we’ve been outshot in all but two matches.
  • Our offense is much better, with marked improvements in Shooting%, DZ Shots For Total, and DZ Shots For %.
  • It’s still very early, so there’s been a lot of wacky variance within and between each match.
Once data for the entire league
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Reasons to be cheerful

I am miles behind on watching the games, but here are some reasons to be happy:
  1. I’m about halfway through Hull but it seemed immediately obvious to me that Hull are a Premier League team playing in the Championship.  Not literally a Premier League team, they’ve lost some players I imagine, but they had something about them that isn’t always evident at this level.  In that sense, losing there was rather like the old losing away in top division used to be: mildly disappointing but overwhelmingly the thing most likely to have happened.  Seen in that light, our start to the season isn’t maybe as bad as it felt at the time.  This said, I haven’t watched Huddersfield yet so there’s that.
  2. Being unbeaten in three games is a fine thing to happen.  Whatever the shortcomings of Kit Symons, teams playing with confidence can achieve a good deal.  I’ve long
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Selling the farm

More news about a young player we’ll never really see.
A source close to the situation divulged on Tuesday afternoon that the 19-year-old will be allowed to leave Craven Cottage for training-only stints with prospective buyers as the Championship season unfolds. It is in this manner that he can choose his next employer.
The 19 year old is Emerson Hyndman, who actually looked pretty capable in the team’s engine room under Magath, has shown composure beyond his years, and is now certain to go somewhere else. It’s probably too soon to mark this down as ‘an alarming trend’, but equally, we had high hopes for this generation of Fulham youngsters and one by one they’re all disappearing. The article above notes that Fulham have offered a new deal to the player, but, just as happened with Patrick Roberts, have little power in the situation with the contract on the verge
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