12 May 2014

The Difference A Season Makes [Infographic]

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Since 1995-96, when the Premiership shifted from a 42- to 38-match season, just four teams in Premier League history have improved by 20 points or more on their previous seasons' total: 2001-02 Newcastle, going from 51 to 71 points; 2004-05 Everton, going from 39 to 51 points, 2005-06 Liverpool, going from 58 to 82 points; and this season's Liverpool, going from 61 to 84 points.

The average difference for the highest-rising team in the league each season was 16 points, a range of a seven-point increase by Bolton in 2009-10 to a 24-point increase by Liverpool in 2005-06.

I've also included the season before the season before in the above graphic as well, in a lighter color, as a useful barometer. In some cases, in shows just how much a team's improved over the three campaigns, such as this season's Liverpool. Conversely, there were a few instances of a team "bouncing back" after a bad season: '97-98 Blackburn, '99-00 Liverpool, '03-04 Arsenal, '04-05 Everton, '12-13 Chelsea. Which takes a bit of the gloss off the achievement. Not included were 1994-95 Sheffield Wednesday, who played 42 games, or 2009-10 Newcastle, as they were in the Championship rather than the Premiership.

Liverpool's three-season increase from 2011-12 to 2013-14 was 32 points, from 52 in Dalglish's last season to 84 in Rodgers' second. That is, by far, the biggest jump over a three-season span; the only team even close to that was Tottenham's 24-point rise from 2007-08 to 2009-10, and they've hovered around the 70-point mark in three of the four subsequent seasons, aside from falling to 62 in 2010-11.

Only one team in the above graphic finished with more points than this season's Liverpool, only one finished in a higher position: 2003-04 Arsenal in both cases, winning the title with 90 points after a something of a collapse (all the way down to 2nd) the season before.

As I'm obviously Liverpool biased, what jumps out at me are the similarities between those two highest increases, in Brendan Rodgers' and Rafa Benitez's second seasons.

Benitez's Liverpool went on a 12-match unbeaten run in 2005-06, including a 10-match winning streak. Rodgers' Liverpool went on a 16-match unbeaten run in 2013-14, including an 11-match winning streak.

Benitez did it with defense, Rodgers with attack; the differences in Goals Scored and Goals Conceded by the two managers' sides are significant. Benitez's two most important second season signings were Reina and Agger. Rodgers' most important signings arguably took place in January of his first season: Sturridge and Coutinho. Let's not talk about the attacking signings from last summer.

Yes, Liverpool's squad was stronger (and the league arguably weaker as a whole) when Benitez became manager, but it also had to cope with extended FA Cup and Champions League campaigns in 2005-06.

If this the precedent for what's to come for Rodgers' Liverpool over the next couple of seasons, I'm okay with that. But the goal is obviously to surpass it.

Coincidentally, the outstanding Match Story independently did a slightly different version of this today, which you should absolutely check out.


Anonymous said...

Nate, Rafa goal diff 1st season +10, total +22.

Interesting analysis.

FSG was taking a lot of criticism early on, in hiring Brendan without having interviewed Rafa. Those critics have gone a little quiet lately. Hmmmm.

The D will get better. Skrtel's, Mig's and Sakho's first season together. Those 3 guys and DAgger are quality, so the base is good. Stevie has gotten better at the defensive part of that DM position too. Jonno is quality in my book as well. I would get quite a few arguments about his defensive ability, but it's OK and can be improved. We'll have to sort out his contract, I guess. Even Flanno possesses some decent steel at left back. Certainly we will need to add to the D. Left back quality is probably the top priority as you mention. I would expect us to be much stronger defensively next season with just the same guys we have now. Surely, we will add there, though. Brendan will work on improving the D with the existing squad too.

Keep us sharp at the top end with another 100 goal season. Tighten up the back. No more slips. No more square balls across the box to Anichebe. No more Skrtel losing the plot and drilling the ball past Migs. Stevie staying put a bit more and sightly heightened concentration on the defensive part of the job. Migs taking charge and clearing ALL those high balls. Jonno squaring up the strikers. Even when he's tired after 100 wind sprints up and down the pitch. We have it all in the locker now. It will only get better when we add more quality.

City are going to have to reduce their wages. Wages at 85% of gross revenues and Platini jumping all over them with a £50 mil 3 year "fine" that gets included in FFP is going to force player moves. UEFA was not impressed with the £46 mil of 2013 revenue for intellectual property rights sales to related 3rd parties, either. It meant their 2 year loss was closer to £200 mil, less £40 mil excluded for stadium and youth and community development less the £37 mil of allowed losses puts their 2 year FFP LOSS at a cool £123 mil. Platini was mad. And he didn't even hit them for a market value test on the £350 mil 10 year Etihad deal. City have problems.

Mou's players will all find him out soon enough. Dropping Hazard, insulting Oscar, lambasting and subbing Salah and Matic during the Norwich half-time pep talk, calling Eto'o a grandfather and Torres useless will all catch up with him. Telling Salah to come back next season ready to be a footballer and telling Matic he was sorry he ever sanctioned the January deal is not a good motivational technique. Mou is already close to being well past his "fresh on" date. 2 years is his max. and he seems to be speeding up the process.

United is supposedly going to spend a kings ransom over the summer. We'll see it when it happens. Fergie's history while with the Glazers is a £70 mil net spend and a £700 mil debt service spend. Hope the Glazers have that £150 mil in one of their mattresses. It's almost unimaginable to comprehend just what level of wages they will have to pay to attract top talent to a team that is considering playing exhibition matches during the season to raise cash. Rooney is getting a salary of £15 mil a season. How much is Kross worth then, £30 mil? Gonna have to pay huge wages to attract top talent to a 7th place side who have already established a crazy high salary structure.

Arsenal are bragging that they are going to spend £100mil this summer. But, they sheepishly admitted that the £100 mil has to cover 5 years of wages too. At least poor Arsene may get to hold an FA cup soon. Eat your heart out Mou. It's been awhile, eh?

We just have to stay strong.

I may have rambled too much. Too late now.

nate said...

Goal difference in 2004-05 was definitely +11, I just screwed up the Goals Scored part. It was 52, not 51. But thanks for catching a mistake.

Anonymous said...

"FSG was taking a lot of criticism early on, in hiring Brendan without having interviewed Rafa. Those critics have gone a little quiet lately. Hmmmm."

I'll admit to being one of those. Easy to do when Anon :) Very happy to have been wrong though. What Brendan did last season was special. And he's still learning. I'll always hold Rafa with great respect and I'm not sure the bitterness on how he was pushed out the club will ever really be healed. But FSG made the right choice.