Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Player ratings: first 20 games

Dietmar Hamann is City's top-rated player after 20 league matches, narrowly beating Micah Richards and Richard Dunne.

The ratings (below) are the average scores taken from talkboards and the media after each match:

Probably the one rating which doesn't do justice to the player is Michael Ball's. His score reflects the high number of late substitute appearances which rarely receive a decent rating, but it's worth noting that he has averaged 6.85 in the four games he started.

I'm also struck by how the ratings differ from Actim Index rankings, particularly Hamann's.

The Index, created in 2004 by Dr Phil Scarf and Dr Ian McHale from the University of Salford’s Business School, is essentially a sophisticated fantasy football scoring system, with points awarded for shots, tackles, goals, assists etc (details of the formula here).

Considering that Hamann is currently the Premiership's second most accurate passer, my guess is that the Index has a bias against defensive midfielders, with too much emphasis currently placed on goals and assists (and not enough on buying free-kicks).

David James wrote an interesting piece in The Guardian recently that details the limitations of football statistics. In my view, the fact that a mathematical formula can't differentiate between say, a simple pass and one that requires skill and vision, means that the ratings given by fans will always provide a better guide to performance.

One stat that is really telling though comes from this comparison of Premiership performance in The Telegraph. It shows that City's passing accuracy has risen from 68.07% last season to 76.34%, making us the most improved passing side in the league.

And finally, here is a comparison of games 1-10 with games 11-20, broken down game by game. The most notable change is Elano, who's gone from our highest-rated player in the first ten games to the third lowest. Most consistent player (in terms of the ratings anyway) is Ireland, who averaged 6.19 in games 1-10 and 6.18 in games 11-20.

(substitute appearances are in italics)

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