Managers and stats

The internet is not just for the younger generation. Football managers are learning to embrace it, as Jamie Rainbow found out

The League Managers Association have created a useful website for their members. One outstanding ­feature is a service for unemployed coaches, enabling them to display their CVs (or in the case of Ian Atkins, their ­autobiography) to any potential employers. Atkins’s playing and managerial career are reproduced in painstaking detail – although one wonders whether his time spent playing for Shrewsbury in the late 1970s will have much bearing on his ability to manage a football club successfully today. Nor are his credentials much enhanced by telling us that: “Holding off the challenge of some of the game’s best known faces, I secured the job of manager at Doncaster Rovers.”

If a chairman is thinking of sacking his manager and has no one else lined up, he would be advised to take a look at the alternatives; it should make him think twice about acting too hastily. Also, it would be a good idea not to take all the CVs at face value. For example, Roy Evans produces a masterpiece of concision with his personal resumé, merely stating: “Thirty-five years with Liverpool, during which time the club were the most successful in England and Europe, winning 30 major trophies.”

Conveniently, but understandably, Evans fails to mention that while he was in sole control at Anfield, the club won just the League Cup. But if you admire Evans’s economical use of the truth then you should take a look at Terry Fenwick’s CV – before the lawyers at Portsmouth do.

The LMA site carries a link to the OPTA pages , which, if reports are to believed, have become an invaluable aid to all managers. If that’s the case, then it may well explain why so many of them are currently out of work – some of the statistics just don’t add up.

For example, take West Ham. They are one of the lowest scorers in the Premiership, yet they have the highest percentage of shots on target. Does this mean they have the best, the worst or simply the unluckiest strikers? Similarly perplexing is the claim that Tot­tenham have made more tackles than any other Premiership side yet have won fewer tackles than anyone else – unless a phenomenally high proportion were made by David Ginola.

It’s a suitable conundrum perhaps for the Football Forty Per Cent website, so named because 40 per cent of the site’s content is football-related. Basically, it’s just a series of message boards where supporters get together to chat. Originally part of the Guardian’s online service, a breakaway group set up this site because no one was using the paper’s official bulletin boards. Among the subjects under discussion is: Who would you support if you couldn’t support your own team? There is no consensus on this one but the contributions are quite amusing. As one (presumably) sarcastic respondent notes: “If Man Utd ever became money-grabbing, traitorous, hateful, arrogant bastards I would have to choose another team.”

From WSC 156 February 2000. What was happening this month