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Moyes: What the Stats Say

By Stuart Reid :  24/10/2008 :  Comments (0) :

In the ongoing debate about the ability of David Moyes, I am never entirely sure what my opinion should be. When I watch Everton play (admittedly on television as I cannot attend matches) I often find myself decrying several things: the total inability of Phil Neville to play in midfield, the total inability of Tony Hibbert to play football at all, our defenders hoofing it instead of passing it and so on. David Moyes does make some strange decisions, that is for sure, and our style of play leaves much to be desired.

On the other hand, looking at where we were under Walter Smith and the squad he left compared to now it seems rather foolish to think we should sack Moyes. Yes, he has spent a bit of money but most of this has been earned through league position bonuses and European qualification. And every manager makes strange decisions (as a Scot I watched Kris Boyd being overlooked for Iwelumo – oh, that miss!). Even the best managers have favourites that are picked ahead of others; for example, does anyone other than Arsene Wenger think that Eboue is any good? How does Darren Fletcher get a game at Man U? More to the point, how did Phil Neville?

As I was so undecided I thought I would take an unbiased look at the stats. The figures for Moyes I have taken from the official league tables. The stats for other managers admittedly come from Wikipedia so anyone with the inclination might wish to check them more thoroughly.

At first glance it looks pretty good. The last two seasons have seen two top-six finishes, one of them with more points than our Champions’ League qualification season, and during both of them we have had the best goal difference outside the top 4. Not bad for a negative, defensive team. Moyes has delivered top ten finishes in four of his six seasons, something that had only previously happened to Everton once in ten years of Premier League football. All in all, undeniable progress and pretty good results.

Taking into account the league results in Moyes’ six full seasons plus the beginning of this season and the end of the 2001-02 season, he has a win rate of exactly 40%. This rises to 41.69% when you consider results in all competitions. He has a career win rate of 44.7%.

So how does this compare to his peers and other high profile bosses? Let’s get the ludicrous one out of the way first – Jose Mourinho. For those who doubt how good he is, which includes myself, his win rate at both Porto and Chelsea was 70.8%. He has a career win rate of 68.89%. Sir Alex Ferguson has a record of 57.94% at Manchester United, 56.77% for his career. Arsene Wenger’s record is 57.35% at Arsenal and 52.93% for his career while Rafa Benitez has won 56.97% of matches at Liverpool.

Of course, the differences between these clubs and Everton in resources and international reputation (important for attracting players) makes it unreasonable to put Moyes’ record against these managers’. With the quality of players available to him he could not be expected to match them. So what about the managers of other clubs?

Newcastle could be considered a comparable club. Unfortunately they don’t keep managers long enough for any accurate comparison to be made. But we’ll take Kevin Keegan’s record. His career win rate is 50.8%. Obviously this covers the periods in charge of Newcastle when they were a top club, and at Fulham when they were spending Premier League money in the lower leagues. I’m not convinced Keegan’s record tells us anything at all. On one hand his teams certainly play exciting and attractive football but on the other hand he would probably have struggled to work within Moyes’ financial constraints.

Phil Brown has been mentioned by fans on this site following Hull’s promising start. Things have gone well for him there and his win rate at Hull is 44.44%. However his short and unsuccessful stint at Derby (21.2%) and a few games as caretaker at Bolton (an impressive four wins and a draw from five games) make his career win rate 39.8%.

Steve Bruce has a win rate at Wigan of 37.14%. His career rate of 38.4% has been achieved in part at a lower league level and has included promotion and relegation seasons. He has arguably not managed any clubs at Everton’s level but did have a fair amount of money at Birmingham.

The three managers in the Premier League that I believe make the best comparison to Moyes are Mark Hughes, Martin O’Neill and Harry Redknapp. All manage clubs at roughly the same level as us with reasonably similar resources.

Hughes has a win rate of 70% at Man City but his Blackburn figure of 43.61% is probably more relevant. His career figure of 44.94% is very similar to that of Moyes. Harry Redknapp’s win rate at Portsmouth of 42.98% is remarkably similar as well, though his career figure drops to 38.47%. Martin O’Neill has a win rate at Villa of 38.7%, though winning three-quarters of his matches at Celtic gives him a healthy total of 54.10%. (To give an idea of the difficulty of achieving this, Gordon Strachan has figures of 32.55% at Coventry, 35.45% at Southampton but a mammoth 67.62% at Celtic.)

People can and probably should draw their own conclusions from all this but for what it’s worth here are mine. The figures for the most comparable managers are very similar and probably indicate that they have similar levels of ability. Harry Redknapp’s huge experience is probably a crucial factor in his success at Portsmouth, and he clearly is very good at getting players to want to sign for him. Perhaps he is more decisive than Moyes in transfers? As for the others their performances match up well.

This shows that Moyes is not statistically inferior to these other managers, but nor is he as critical to the club as Kenwright feels he is. The Moyesiah is just Moyes. He is no better or worse than many others, so is the shite football really worth it? If he could just work out what went right in the good seasons and wrong in the bad seasons he would be on to a winner.

The statistics also raise the interesting possibility that the 45% win rate mark is as high as it is possible to go unless you are the boss of a Sky 4 club.

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