Free Friday: Destroying Wage Structures, Misleading Shot Stats & Salford Sports’ Bias

Free Friday: Destroying Wage Structures, Misleading Shot Stats & Salford Sports’ Bias
August 7, 2020 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


Best posts of the week, as chosen by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes:

Here are some comments we’ve picked out this week:

1 – Chardo34 highlighting more editorial bias by BBC Sport Salford:

My gooner mate posted a pic from The KOP End Unbearables of tightly packed fans celebrating the cup win outside the Emirates.

The caption said ‘LFC fans breaking lockdown rules again!’

Very dry but perhaps too subtle?

Where is the article on BBC Salford about it? When it was us, they had the article on the screen behind the TV reporter for all of the sports news on BBC breakfast.

2 – eddierobusa summarising Liverpool’s prospects in the summer transfer window:

And from the Independent, a rumour on us looking at / pursuing  Jamal Lewis:

Kostas Tsimikas is mentioned as another player we are looking at for LB.

I know this is pure speculation ( well it is the rumours page), but I suspect Mandi + Lewis + Sarr could be got for around a combined £ 50 million (Werner fee), with their combined wages also possibly less than Werner would have commanded. We can probably raise that much through sales (Lovren + Karius + Wilson + Shaq + Larouci +  ….), and have already saved over £ 200k / week in wages with Lovren / Clyne / Lallana leaving.

Several articles have mentioned our key needs as being backup LB / CB, together with a wide attacker to spell Mane and Salah. I suspect when the club said they couldn’t get the financials to work for Werner they were simply telling the truth, given the covid induced financial limitations, and other needs they have identified.

It will maybe be a quiet window, but it will not be silent.

3 – On the same topic, Dave1917:

I don’t often post here. And I appreciate people being optimistic (the world outside LFC is so grim and the longer we can hold out against the power of oligarchs and oil states the better), but I do think it’s also worth being realistic:

All the signs are that it had been the club’s intention to rejig the front one and bring in some fresher legs, and would have done without Covid.

I’m old enough to remember when there was a specific age at which sportsmen melted – it was about 26 (think Borg, think McEnroe). Whether it’s physical ageing or the mental pressure to motivate yourself when you’ve already won everything you can.

It used to be a point of pride to us that most LFC players were on average younger than that; as it proved that our best days as a team were ahead of us. Now, unless Klopp can do some active squad management, we face the risk of having an older team that’s melting faster than the young squad players can improve it.

Yes, recruitment brings difficulties, but the particular advantages of a small squad with regular playing time are reduced if (for example) some/much/all of next season is played on the 5 subs rule, which gives the maximum advantage to larger squads.

In addition, next season will have other problems: a really short mid-season break, a shorter period than usual to squeeze all the games in – each of which increases the risk of injury, and this is a greater concern to teams where the gap between the first 11 is large, than those with a large bank of underused talent.

There is a particular urgency about refreshing the front 3 given the amount of sprints they do and their age.

So, I for one am hoping that the club does sell a few players, use the money to make purchases, *and* also reuse more of the possibly-returning loan talent than we have in previous seasons.

4 – Tony McKenna poses a question about shots on target and the difference between Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Man Utd:

“But based on the last seven years of Premier League data, if a team has more shots on target than their opponent then they have a 62 per cent chance of winning the match”.

Interesting Beez.  But in a confusing kind of way.  Before I proceed,  I concede that my amateurish interpretation of stats may be in play.  Strangely enough I had been browsing the PL site recently, and noted the SOT tallies for the big 6.

Liverpool notched up 231 over the season, but it was not the most.  This privilege apparently went to City, (265).  Probably more disconcerting is that United had 216, so not too far behind Liverpool; Chelsea were nearer still, with 223.

I know that you cannot take stats out of a wider picture.  Of course, defensive stats will come into play; indeed, the amount of SOT you give away, for example.  Maybe I should have looked at these, too. 🙂

However, I had anticipated seeing that Liverpool were far more ahead in relation to the SOTs. I also became befuddled as to how City managed to lose 9 games; United 8; and Chelsea 12.

5 – In true TTT-style, Beez responds with plenty of other evidence to ponder:

Here’s some more numbers for you Tony (and bear in mind I had about an hour to write the above post; a TTT version of the same article would be far more detailed and at least twice as long!).

Liverpool’s great talent was not to necessarily have the most shots on target this season, but to have more than their opponents in virtually every match. Here’s a league table of SoT ‘victories’

Team SoT Win SoT Draw SoT Loss
Liverpool 34 1 3
Manchester City 31 1 6
Chelsea 29 3 6
Manchester United 24 6 8
Leicester City 22 4 12
Southampton 20 2 16
Everton 19 5 14
Wolverhampton 17 6 15
Burnley 16 3 19
West Ham United 14 3 21
Aston Villa 14 2 22
Tottenham Hotspur 13 4 21
Newcastle 13 1 24
Brighton and Hove Albion 12 8 18
Sheffield United 12 7 19
Arsenal 12 5 21
AFC Bournemouth 11 2 25
Watford 10 5 23
Norwich City 10 1 27
Crystal Palace 8 9 21

And as you allude to, the amount of shots on target against is obviously relevant too – Liverpool conceded the fewest. If we list the teams by their shots on target ratios (the proportion of the SoT in their matches which the team in question takes) we get the following:

Team SoT F SoT A SoTR
Manchester City 267 115 69.9%
Liverpool 230 109 67.8%
Chelsea 223 118 65.4%
Manchester United 216 131 62.2%
Leicester City 191 136 58.4%
Wolverhampton 148 130 53.2%
Everton 162 149 52.1%
Southampton 181 168 51.9%
Tottenham Hotspur 160 184 46.5%
West Ham United 163 189 46.3%
Brighton and Hove Albion 143 171 45.5%
Sheffield United 114 140 44.9%
Aston Villa 149 186 44.5%
Burnley 134 170 44.1%
Arsenal 151 197 43.4%
Crystal Palace 120 174 40.8%
Newcastle 133 199 40.1%
Watford 122 183 40.0%
AFC Bournemouth 122 196 38.4%
Norwich City 131 215 37.9%

But while teams tend to finish in roughly the order of their SoT Ratio, as with xG City padded their total numbers in matches where it didn’t particularly matter that they battered teams. Eg:

Home Away H Goals A Goals H SoT A SoT
Manchester City Tottenham Hotspur 2 2 10 2
Crystal Palace Manchester City 0 2 2 10
Manchester City Leicester City 3 1 12 2
Aston Villa Manchester City 1 6 1 12
Manchester City Arsenal 3 0 12 0
Manchester City Newcastle 5 0 9 1
Brighton and Hove Albion Manchester City 0 5 0 8
Watford Manchester City 0 4 0 10

But they also had fewer SoT than their opponent in their home game with United, and away at Bournemouth, Liverpool, Wolves, United and Chelsea – aside from a win at Bournemouth, they lost the other five.

And finally, the 62% win rate is the overall total, it obviously varies depending on what the exact SoT difference is. Here’s a table of that info if you’re interested.

SoT D Games Win Draw Loss W% D% L%
16 1 1 0 0 100% 0% 0%
15 1 1 0 0 100% 0% 0%
13 4 4 0 0 100% 0% 0%
12 7 6 0 1 86% 0% 14%
11 14 13 0 1 93% 0% 7%
10 30 27 2 1 90% 7% 3%
9 33 30 2 1 91% 6% 3%
8 66 58 7 1 88% 11% 2%
7 109 97 11 1 89% 10% 1%
6 171 142 21 8 83% 12% 5%
5 198 147 33 18 74% 17% 9%
4 285 195 62 28 68% 22% 10%
3 441 268 110 63 61% 25% 14%
2 448 239 120 89 53% 27% 20%
1 563 234 176 153 42% 31% 27%

Here endeth the lesson 😉

6 – Paul on potential Liverpool target Jamal Lewis from Norwich:

I said earlier that I felt that he could play as a right-back as well, as my fairly vague impression of him was as a nicely-balanced player. That compilation proves it. Indeed, he looks a lot better than I imagined him to be.

Most of it seems to be cutting inside onto his left foot with a chop or a lollipop! But when he goes outside his man he seems to have a wicked cross too. Quick feet, reminds me of Dele Alli a bit in how he moves the ball and with a similar lean physique. Clearly has blistering pace, too.

My only problem with Robbo is how poor he is at going past players with anything other than pace and determination. He does brilliant things, like for the 5th goal against Chelsea, where he bombs forward, but he’s quite linear. Even when he cuts infield it’s just to bomb into the space; although his main asset remains just overlapping with gusto and crossing brilliantly. When he’s faced with taking on a player from a standing start he tends to just pass backwards or infield, as he can’t really manoeuvre the ball or his body shape in the way that Lewis does in the videos. Robbo hasn’t got a trick – he’s just bloody-minded!

I think we can also be a tad predictable in that Robbo and TAA will overlap and the the wide forwards will cut inside onto their favoured foot, although we do it so well that it’s still hard to stop. But Lewis offers something a bit different to Robertson, even if he’ll struggle to oust him. I also remember Lewis being a bit narky in one of the games against us (Anfield, I think), which annoyed me at the time, but it’s something Robbo has in him too.

Some really good defending from Lewis in those clips, too. But as ever, selected highlights can make most players look great, but from it he looks like an all-round player. Which, in fairness, seems to apply to a lot of young English talent these days (yes, he plays for Northern Ireland but has only lived in England). As a whole they seem to be so much better technically than the generation before, and I’m always keen on a player who will cut inside and go outside with equal ease.

7 – Mobykidz on our wage structure compared to Chelsea:

If it is true what Chelsea are paying Timo Werner in weekly wages – 300,000 – it seems that Edwards will not over pay a player in his weekly wages.

Roman Abramovich intention is to blow our salary packages out of the water. We can’t ever contemplate paying a newcomer more than our established world class players at Liverpool. Timo Werner is not world class nor an upgrade. He represents potential value. Therefore 300k (or even 250k) is not value in terms you and I understand right now.

The Red Bull player may become world class but this is a massive gamble by any other club except Chelski, Manure and Citeh. But Pulisic has shone so with Havertz it could be a brilliant trio. However Chelsea will likely pay the Leverkusen player at least 300-350k. With Pulisic on at least 150k and Ziyech 100k Chelsea’s outlay weekly could be an eye watering 900k a week.

Liverpool’s outlay is roughly 600k (Mane, Salah, Bobby & Div).  If we signed Werner on say 150k our total outlay jumps to around 750k or less if Div left. Worth it? Not sure.

I reckon that would have been the offer we put down prior to any fee but Werner doubled his wages at Chelski. I don’t blame him – but think about it. Abramovich had to double a theoretical LFC offer to convince him to come to West London. Hilarious. Maybe I’m living in cloud cuckoo land with Covid baselining our transfer expectations.

But there’s been talk of interest in the young Senegal player Sarr who is a player right up Klopp’s wind tunnel to craft into a supersonic boom at a fraction of the cost. I know Werner would on probability be a very good signing but not on 300k. But if we signed Sarr something about the kid excites me. If a player excites me for a fraction of the cost because of what they can become at Liverpool then BOOM! And we save money too. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Articles published since last Friday, with excerpts:

Sunday August 2nd:

Leadership, Teamwork and What Makes Klopp So Special (Chapter From New Book)by Paul Tomkins.

In the summer of 2019 I argued, in the face of the usual transfer-based hysteria that often makes those months unbearable (for some people, “winning” the transfer window seems more important than any actual football), that Liverpool were probably right to keep their powder dry in the transfer market, because the team was at a very good average age, and was increasing its interdependent skills. 

The previous summer, in 2018, both Spurs and Manchester City made virtually no additions to teams that were at good ages, and subsequently had their best seasons, by some of the biggest metrics, in their history (in City’s case, three trophies was a club best; in Spurs’ case, it was their first ever European Cup/Champions League final). Of course, a further year later, heading into 2019/20, they then had issues with some ageing players; and so they bought new players, and rather than improving, they regressed, to the point where they were miles adrift of the Reds. 

None of which is to say that buying new players was therefore a mistake; just that it can take time for a team to form, and grow, and sometimes it simply won’t work out. If your players age-out, you need to replace them – you cannot keep a team together beyond its natural lifespan; but that change can often disrupt the shared wavelength – in the short term, at least – that everyone else has tuned in to. Indeed, this is why Klopp often chooses to let players adapt to Liverpool’s football via months of training before they are exposed to the first team; which was also famously the way Liverpool used to do it during the halcyon days, perhaps as no coincidence. (Albeit back then, there was less fanfare about new arrivals, and players like Alan Hansen, Ian Rush, Ronnie Whelan and Steve Nicol were all fairly young when they arrived, but went straight into the reserves.)

Tuesday August 4th:

The Tomkins Times’ Liverpool FC Player Of The Year Is…by Andrew Beasley.

But we do have a method of determining who was player of the season: the post-match polls which Tomkins Times subscribers vote in.

Even then, simply tallying up the total votes cast for each player has its issues. The number of votes cast in each poll veers wildly. There also wasn’t a poll for every match, either due to the lack of importance of the game, or in some cases because we forgot to do one, in all honesty.

So to iron out the quirks, here’s how it will work: for each match, the top five players in the poll will receive points. Five for the man of the match, four for the runner-up, and so on. These will then be tallied to reflect who was most commonly at the right end of the rankings.

Over 45,000 votes were cast – thank you so much for your contributions – and here are the top five players. A full table of the points data is included at the end of the article.

Wednesday August 5th:

Liverpool and Manchester City: A New Rivalry for Our Timesby Chris Rowland.

Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool now began to threaten City’s domestic hegemony as, in season 2018/19, Liverpool and City became proper rivals on the pitch as well as off it as they battled for the title in one of the best, most close-run title races in history. It certainly set records. Liverpool losing just one league game all season, winning their last nine games straight off and finishing on a colossal 97 points, the club’s highest in a history which included 18 title-winning seasons, yet still finishing runners-up as City won their last 14 to win it by a single point.

I witnessed first-hand the complete change in hostility and animosity directed towards us in two Liverpool games at the Etihad, in September 2017 and January 2019, with that Champions League tie, the one that I believe triggered the seismic shift between the two sets of fans and the teams themselves, in between.