Dafuge & Data: Season 8 Summary – Championship Chops
It has been a while. I’ve had several colds, piles of work, and zero fish and chips. It’s a hard life. As is life in the Champinship. We’re going to cover our first season in the Championship below, but feel free to catch up with any past posts about the Seadogs and Stats.
- Longball and DNA
- Season One Summary
- Season Two Summary
- Season Three Summary
- Problem Right backs
- Striker Health Checks
- Klingon Tactics
- Season Four Summary
- Love Letter to a Striker
- Ode to a Stadium
- Season Five Summary (and DNA)
- Choosing Violence
- Season Six Summary
- Season Seven Summary
- Big Sam’s Ghost
The transfer business was slow. With limited funds, and even more limited interest in joining the potential whipping boys of the Championship, we didn’t exactly set the transfer market alight. We really need to strengthen across the board but our two biggest signings were probably youth prospect Joe Chester and left-wing utility man Sean Marks. I was particularly hopeful about the impact Marks could have as the left is always difficult to fill in. The former Chelsea man came highly rated as well. But the signing of the season was probably a familiar face.
That is right. About a season after being sold for a club record to Cardiff midfield magician Martin Duggan made his way back. Cardiff had been relegated and we were leapfrogging them into the Championship. Taking their still warm and slightly moist seat at the big boy’s table. With their change in fortunes Duggan no longer seemed to be in their plans and they had put him on the transfer list.
We stole him back for £76k and a sell-on clause. As you can see above Cardiff still owe us over £80k in installments from when they bought him. Bizarrely he is now our most expensive transfer out, and in, whilst still maintaining a profit at each stage.
False Starts and Slumps
What’s Seagull for ouch? Bar our very first season in the vanarama north this is probably the worst start we’ve had. There’s some green thrown in there and some brave draws but we were sliding down the table. We were squatting over the pit of doom. A slight change in form would have us tumble into it.
What was apparent from these games was the amount of pressure we were under and the gulf in class when it came to some of the opposition players. I’ve mentioned it before I think but some of these teams had players worth more than our entire club, stadium and amusement arcade included.
Salary correlates more closely with success (position and points) than most other variables in real-world football. Stefan Szymanksi looked at Premiership and Championship wages to league position and found a correlation of .9. If you’re a nerd you know that is huge. If you’re not then bear in mind the maximum value is 1 and the closer to 1 you are the closer to being perfectly correlated you are. Take a gander at the table below from Szymanski. Giants at one end, fodder at the other.
See that dot at the bottom? Scunthorpe. If we translated our relative wages into the above then we could only dream of kissing the boots of Scunthorpe.
A Seance for Big Sam
With some serious worries about our Championship status hanging over our heads, we picked up the ouija board and took inspiration from Big Sam. As mentioned in the last post we focused on tightening our defence and sacrificing games that were probably unwinnable to gain points elsewhere.
It’s a bit of cheeky recycling but I’m on my third cold of the month and my eyes hurt. In the graph though you can see our uptick in fortunes. We sacrificed some pie and mushy peas to the great seagull/Big Sam and marched on to the end of the season. If you want the full stats treatment check out the Big Sam’s Ghost post as we break the points by game down.
The last few months flew by and we ground out result after result. They weren’t all pretty. I don’t really want to use the infamous Ian Holloway quote but given that I’ve actually hired him in-game as a scout it would be fitting.
That is a very respectable finish. Our first season in the Championship and we are comfortably (in the end) mid-table with 58 points. It was hairy but in the end, we were 15 points clear of the danger zone, and…well 15 points away from the play-offs. Proudly middle of the road considering the difference in wages and funds meant we should have been destroyed. Instead, we’ve robbed a few teams.
This season has been iconic. Because de la Vega, is now an icon at the Flamingo Land stadium.
His name can now be said with the same reverence usually reserved for Neil Warnock. Hallelujah.
This season also saw us reach 400 games in management, spread across the Vanarama North to the Championship. Over 400 games we have soared like a chip fueled seagull to dizzying heights, with the promised land of top-flight football tantalisingly close.
Limited Time in the Championship?
What are the basic stats saying though? We’ve survived and hit some milestones in the Championship. Even if we did resurrect Big Sam to do so. But what is it looking like for next season?
Grim. An xGA of 105! We were getting pummelled. Only conceding 85 was pretty good going and spoke to some heroic efforts between the posts by Harrison. He didn’t get many clean sheets (there wasn’t a huge difference between his clean sheet count and his assists) but he did manage to salvage a lot of games for us.
We could probably also take some comfort in the fact that we also ‘threw’ some games by playing weaker sides. Giving us a chance for more winnable games. This would have had a negative impact on the base xGA and goals against stats. But…we actually can’t use that as a get-out clause. The devil is in the detail, and currently, Lucifer is hanging out by the xPts table.
xPts takes into account the xG and xGA per game, and splits the points on offer (3 unless you’ve travelled back in time al a FMHeathen) based on the xG/xGA ratio for that game. With that in mind, it means this table gives up an idea of the points we should have got, even taking into account some of the weaker sides we put out. As it’s done on a game-by-game basis, and essentially is capped at 3 points extreme games where we get out xG’d 10-1 still only cost us 3 points on the table.
So from looking at the xPts table we can see we should have finished 23rd, with only 40.1 points. A whole 10 xPts from safety. This means actually there were a lot of games where we were lucky, 17pts worth of lucky. Which in turn is almost a 50% increase on the points we did deserve.
All in all, a really long-winded way of saying our balls to the wall defending (shown above) and luck saved us. It might not do it again in our next Championship season.
All’s (Joe) Fair
A big factor as well was the stand out season Joe Fairs had. Varian Mk II managed to bag an impressive 30 goals during his first Championship season.
Varian MK I, the OG, managed 0 but still played a part from the subs bench. Fairs managed to grab us points and keep us in games almost completely by himself. Sometimes he would have quiet games until a flick-on from one of the targetmen set him free and past his marker to find a corner of the net. If we can keep hold of him next season we’ve got a good chance. If we can’t then we might be sunk.
The same goes for Harrison in goal as well. We have the GK sorted, we have our 30 goal striker sorted. It’s just the 9 men between them that are a little ropey.
We will be back with a update for next season soon. I hope we will be signing tons of stars for a newly expanded stadium. But I have a feeling we will instead be fighting for our lives in the current cosy Flamingo Land stadium with our team of youth rejects.