Kicking Him While He’s Down

Dingo is a bit distressed today. One of the teams he sympathizes with, Tottenham, lost by a six goal margin to Manchester Sheikhy. This post is about Spurs and AVB. AVB surely gets a lot of heat these days for Spurs’ results and not enough for his mediocre beard. A cool headed analyst would say “Let’s hold on a second here before we lynch him”. Well. for your information Dingo is neither cool headed nor an analyst.

I like to simplify things. There are 3 major ways a manager can affect a team’s performance:

Constructing the Team: Most of the season is determined when the squad is formed. Most managers, even in EPL, are not 100% responsible for  buying and selling. In Spurs, I doubt AVB had much input this year as a player like Lamela that cost a fortune hardly plays.

Selecting the Team: Each squad has good players and bad players playing for the same position. Most of the times managers go with the market; that is play the most expensive player in his position. The benefits are twofold:

1- Player market by pricing Player A above Player B as more expensive has to be right

2- Either the manager himself or his employer spend a decent amount of money for that player and there are job security issues if expensive players are not played. If things go well manager might look like a genius; if not he will be fired.

I think selecting the right team is the most important function of most managers today. Especially in stronger clubs where squads are constructed for 3-4 fronts there are many alternatives to each position and a manager can select an average or an outstanding team.For example according to dingoR,  Moyes due to his his obsession with  Welbeck already cost Manchester United a few points early in the season.

I am not suggesting this is what AVB does, but in Spurs’ case he would be better off if he did.

Tactics/Fitness/Motivation: This goes hand in hand with “selecting the team” but I think the impact here is a bit more limited. A very good tactician would improve team’s performance above and beyond the sum of the parts.For example; if one is using a rating like dingoR we would expect most players perform at a higher level than the years before the manager arrived. This is the case with Roma this year, but it’s early in the season to get up and applaud Garcia. (So just an ovation for now, non-standing variety)

AVB

Spurs sold their best player this year and bought a few players. On paper the players they bought looked very decent. In defense and forward choices are still limited but good, Even though he is yet to perform Soldado (dingoR:112.1)  has been a very good player in recent years. Spurs currently has a lot of capable players in midfield and it can be hard to differentiate among them. We can get a dingoR for most players from previous seasons; for Paulinho and Eriksen I used this year’s dingoR. And Chadli sorry, I think you are too bad to be even considered:

Player dingoR Minutes
Lamela 130.6 162
Capoue 127.4 191
Paulinho 113.7 1050
Sandro 112.1 361
Sigurdsson 109.0 572
Lennon 102.6 342
Holtby 94.7 315
Eriksen 93.5 425
Dembele 92.6 707
Townsend 79.0 843

Townsend is much worse this year than the above score suggests as if there were any doubts. The above table goes down to the root of the problem. There is a significant negative correlation(-0.47) between the players’ quality according to dingoR and the minutes they played under AVB. We can excuse AVB on Capoue since he is injured but playing Townsend and Dembele (a darling of other models, not dingoR’s) is inexcusable. By dingoR, AVB already cost Spurs 5 points due to his weak team selections in midfield.

Another poor decision by AVB is playing his best players out of position; the analysis has to wait for another day but Vertonghen and Lamela on the left are minimizing their effect significantly. It is true that it is tough to get decent players on the flanks but playing your best players there is not a solution. Look at what Guardiola is doing with Lahm; getting your best players to the core positions makes sense; not the other way around.

Enough ranting for Sunday night; have a nice week and take it easy on the stuffing on Thursday.

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