Points or Position? What Matters Most?

Points or Position? What Matters Most?

In the aftermath of the Liverpool vs Chelsea game on Sunday I was scrolling through Twitter looking at the overreactions of many with stats being thrown around like nobody’s business. All normal stuff before one stat in particular caught me off guard.

“Brendan Rodgers averages 76 points per season as Liverpool manager.”

Shit, I thought, how has that beauty got past me?

Then reading on I found out this was if Liverpool win their final two games and then you don’t include his first season and JFK hadn’t been shot. So not as clear cut as first made out and rather manipulative I must say. I could say Rafa was a 84 points per season manager*and I’d be right. It’s easy to pick and choose stats to fit your opinion.

(* if you ignore 4 of the seasons he was here and concentrate on his two high scoring ones)

Points or Position

I decided to investigate a little further into this and looked into points won since Brendan Rodgers took over at Liverpool compared to our rivals and the table below shows the results of this.

Team 2012-2013 2013-2014 2014-2015 (maximum) Average
Chelsea 75 82 90 82
Manchester City 78 86 79 81
Arsenal 73 79 82 78
Manchester United 89 64 74 75
Liverpool 61 84 68 71
Spurs 72 69 64 68

So even with our extraordinary season last year, our average points total (if we win both of the remaining games) is 71 points. This puts us 5th overall.

I understand why people write off season one of Rodgers, it’s a bedding in season so he shouldn’t be judged on it properly. However, if Liverpool fail to win either of their remaining games they finish with a total of 62 points. One point greater than Rodgers’ first. What’s a little more worrying for me is the fact the season Liverpool sold Fernando Torres and Javier Mascherano, signed Poulson and had Roy in charge for half of the season finished on 58 points. A half a season recovery from Kenny meant we finished on the up but the turmoil and torture of that season and we finish a mere 4 points better off?

Then the season preceding Rodgers’ appointment, when Kenny was at the helm, 52 points and two cup finals. So I’ll repeat, If results go against us and we end up with 62 points that’s only 10 points better off than the abysmal season we had under Kenny.

Obviously there has been an improvement and the club players better football and has better players, but have they reached their ceiling? Is this where the club should be? Could this be down to Rodgers having a limit?

I next decided to look at season one and season 3 of Rodgers’ tenure to figure out where his points totals would have gotten us in seasons prior.

Season What 62 points gets you What 4th place needed
2004/05 4th 77
2005/06 7th 67
2006/07 4th 68
2007/08 6th 76
2008/09 7th 72
2009/10 8th 70
2010/11 6th 68
2011/12 7th 65
2012/13 7th 73
2013/14 8th 79
2014/15 8th 74 Potentially

As we established earlier he could end up with minimum 62 points and at most 68 points. The sample is over 11 seasons, not the greatest amount of data but it’s ever since Chelsea got the investment. Of these 11 seasons 68 points (our maximum) would’ve got you Champions League football on 4 occasions. It works out on average you need 71 points for top 4. As alluded to earlier in the first table Rodgers averages 71 points with Liverpool but that number is grossly inflated by the monster that was last season.  What that also doesn’t factor in his since Rodgers took over the average points 4th spot ends with is 76. What this shows is the top 4 teams are winning more games than they used to. So these days you could be a 71 point per season manager but still be a 5th place manager.

If Liverpool were to lose the next two and end up with 62 points, well you’re looking at a 7th place finish based on previous seasons. I’m not sure if this could happen but say Spurs, Liverpool, Southampton and Swansea all lose their final two games and Liverpool do end up 5th with 62 points it just highlights how poor the league has been. If this were to happen could there be an argument questioning the progress of the club? Similar points but a better league finish. What really matters?

This same logic also disproves that Liverpool have been on par, to me anyway.

The aforementioned stat of over the previous 2 seasons the average number of points the 4th spot finisher ends up with is 76. United need to win both of their games to get 74 points (quick math shows this is 2 points off average). If they fail to beat Arsenal but beat Hull (no easy feat) then they finish 5 points off 76. Therefore United have slipped up. The 4th place team has given us that opportunity many fans have said wouldn’t have. Did we make the most of it though? No. United underachieved and we weren’t good enough to make the most of it. United could finish 8 points off the average and they’ve still got 4th sewn up.

This isn’t all on Rodgers, this could be that the club itself has a ceiling when it comes to the quality of players it has at its disposal and that it can attract. There is no shame for Rodgers in being a 70 point per season manager. However you can’t ignore the fact United haven’t performed as well as other 4th place teams have, playing and points wise, and we as that 5th place side haven’t made the most of this opportunity. This again begs the question what’s more important; points or position? Is it really good enough to finish 5th with a points tally that would’ve got you 8th spot last season?

Next season will be telling in the career of Brendan Rodgers. Can he push the team on to get into the 70 point mark and show he can get more than expected out of his players or are we in for another 60 odd point season which would then say season 2 (84 points) was a freak result and that Brendan Rodgers is very much a 60 points per season manager. The question that will be asked then is: has Brendan Rodgers found his level? Or do FSG need to invest in better players because Rodgers did (?) show in season two he can push these players on?