Moyes can Draw a Tie

Let’s assume 2 imaginary teams in very similar leagues:

               P

                W

                D

              L

              Pts

Team A

38

19

0

19

57

Team B

38

0

38

0

38

We can also assume that these teams have exactly same number of goals scored and goals conceded. Team A is more successful even though strength wise one could argue they are same. The only difference is that in a 3 point system Team A has figured out how to avoid draws and Team B has not.

Draws are a bit unnatural since it does not maximize the points teams get from a certain game. In absence of collusion some draws are expected, even beneficial for some teams. For example, if a manager thinks his team has less than 33% odds of winning versus losing by opening up a game than draws make sense. There are game theory and behavioral finance implications of drawing (as @altmandaniel pointed out to me recently, people are psychologically biased to protect $x they already have than risk it for $x+y that they do not have given favorable odds). I would love to see an article by @altmandaniel on what current economic theory would say about draws.(I think there are too many draws but maybe I am wrong- in CL group stages draws are less likely as teams are more aware of  drawbacks of draws and tend to avoid them)

So much for theory by a layman. I wanted to look at which teams are good maximizing points given their strength. It would take a bit of a time to write my whole approach here (but you can ask me @dingosports and we can discuss). Basically for any game, oddsmakers publish certain likelihoods for W/D/L.  If a team has a 70% chance of winning a game the draw likelihood is around ~20%, and a loss ~10%(for league games). We would never see a 70/10/20 ratio unless something fishy was going on. Starting with these odds I looked at #wins and #losses a team got in a season and calculated how many theoretical draws we should have expected for that team.  Then I calculated how many points a team lost or gained by avoiding/achieving draws. Here are the average points per season (last 5 seasons-not including current one) for teams that have been in EPL for at least 3 seasons:

Manu

2.4

Chelsea

1.7

MCity

1.0

WBA

0.8

Spurs

0.6

Newcastle

0.6

WHU

0.5

Arsenal

0.5

Wolves

0.2

Bolton

0.1

Sunderland

-0.1

Wigan

-0.2

B’burn

-0.2

Stoke

-0.2

Fulham

-0.3

AViIlla

-0.8

Liverpool

-1.4

Everton

-2.2

My friends know that I am not a big fan of Sir Alex Ferguson (more on this on my autobiography which will be published in 2054). But this does not stop me from admiring his success in EPL. He does many things well; and avoiding draws when he had a very strong team was one of them. It is a bit puzzling then that he handpicked Mr. Moyes who had the worst record in this aspect to replace him. Of course avoiding draws is not a top 10 or top 25 criteria when hiring a manager but I think it reveals something about the psychological makeup of certain manager’s teams.

I can think of two main ways a manager of a good team would try to avoid draws. First would be not sitting back once you have a one goal advantage and second would be pushing heavily for a win if the game is tied. Yesterday’s game against Everton might have been damaging to Moyes on the second aspect. Ever since the season started pundits have been criticizing him for running Manchester United like a smaller team. As a risk adverse manager he did what does not seem to be natural for him (subbed in Chicharito and went for the win) and he lost. I wonder if he thought “I told you so” to all the pundits; but pundits are right this time he should go for the win even if it costs him a point once in a while.

Thank you Mr.Selc (UK) for his contributions.

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One comment

  1. Pingback: Ides Team Ranking-Inter-What to Watch | dingostats

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