Thursday, 17 December 2015

Should Chelsea Sack Jose Mourinho?

In previous posts, during previous football seasons, I've monitored the performance of certain football managers - in particular David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal.  I'm not really targeting Manchester United specifically, it's just that over recent seasons, they've had a tough time and there's been some speculation about their managers' futures.  In fact, Moyes was sacked before his first season was finished.

This season, Chelsea's Jose Mourinho is coming under scrutiny.  At the time of writing (16 December 2015) his team have played 16 games and are in 16th place (out of 20) and sliding towards the relegation zone.  But is the situation really that bad?  It's time to compare his performance against some of the others I've mentioned.  The first comparison is cumulative points achieved through the season, and I'm comparing Mourinho with Moyes (his line is the 'this performance will get you fired' line).

Looking at this, it would appear that Mourinho is not going to last until the end of the season.  There's clearly more going on here - for example, Moyes was in his first season after Ferguson's era of success, while Mourinho is continuing after winning the league title last season.  And perhaps Chelsea (the club, staff and fans) are more loyal to their manager.

So, assuming that Mourinho is going to stay in place, at least for the short term, then let's look at what's going wrong for him (I guess he'll be more aware of this than me, but let's look impartially at the stats).

First of all: the performance during the first ten games of the season:

There's nothing obviously wrong with the number of goals his team is scoring: the problem is with the number being conceded.  Chelsea used to be famous for 'parking the bus' (i.e. scoring a goal and then defending with complete success) but it now appears that they've got a very leaky defence - and too leaky to be a serious challenger for the top position.
  If we compare their current position (after 16 games) with some of the other teams in the league, we find some interesting points:

1. Only two teams - the bottom two, Aston Villa and Sunderland - have lost more games than Chelsea (Chelsea = 9, Sunderland = 10, Aston Villa = 12).  Previous analysis of Moyes and LVG in particular indicated that they were drawing too many matches that they needed to conver to wins.  Mourinho's task is different - it's not stop drawing, it's
to recover more draws from losing situations and to stop losing
Comparison of Jose Mourinho to Alex Ferguson's
first season; final season; David Moyes
and Louis Van Gaal.

As at 16 December, the win/lose/draw rate for the Premier League, sorted by league position
from left to right.  Note the high lose-rate for Chelsea.

2. After 16 games, Chelsea have four clean sheets, ranking them joint 11th, mid-table.  Their issue is not the number of clean sheets they're keeping, it's conceding more goals than they're scoring (I know that seems obvious, but they don't have to keep clean sheets to help them improve their position).

3.  Chelsea's goal difference is not a significant factor. Or, to put it another way: on average, they're not losing by huge margins in their games.  The recommendation based on this (and their significant lose-rate) is to play more aggressively and play less cautiously when they concede a goal.  They can afford to lose by 3 or 4 goals without significantly denting their goal difference compared to the teams around them.

So, should Chelsea sack Mourinho?  Maybe, although perhaps he can be relied upon to change his team's style and go for a more attacking style - he has goals to play with, if not games.

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