Archive for category Football

England stats part 2

Because there were just too many graphs for one post. This time, World Cups and managers.

Today’s papers are full to the brim with questions. Why didn’t England win the World Cup? Was it psychological? Were there too few youngsters on the team? Are young England players improperly trained? Did England play as a team? Is 4-4-2 dead? Should Fabio go?

Unsurprisingly, Capello is not popular in the papers. The Mirror demands “FabiGO” and The Sun‘s headline is simply “It’s time you went, Capello“. The Daily Mail goes further, and somehow suggests that the wealth of Fabio and the team is precisely why England did badly:*

In contrast to England’s only successful manager, Sir Alf Ramsey, who lived in a modest semi in Ipswich and, at the end of his time in charge, was earning just £7,000 a year, Capello has always enjoyed the trappings of the high life, including a vast art collection said to be worth £17million.

Indeed, his convoluted financial affairs brought him to the attention of the Italian tax authorities, though he was never charged with any offence.**

In case you hadn’t guessed, Alf Ramsey was England manager in 1966. Of course, he was also England manager for the 1970 World Cup (in which we fell in the quarter finals) and 1974 World Cup (which we failed to qualify for entirely). And “only successful manager”? Bobby Robson and Terry Venables both took England to the semifinals of a major tournament (1990 World Cup and Euro 1996) and both could have got to the finals if it hadn’t been for bad luck on penalty shootouts. Because that’s what it is. Luck.

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How bad were England?

The most even-handed headline I could find today on England’s 4-1 loss to Germany is BBC News’s “Germany knock out dismal England“, though I like the alliteration in the The Sun‘s headline “Fabio’s flops“. “Dismal” – that’s a strong word. Was the match really dismal? All the papers agree England’s performance was weak, and certainly you can’t say there was much in the way of decent defending from England but, from a historical perspective, was it all that bad?

The statistics I’m using come from EnglandFC.com for England data, and RSSSF.com for German data (using West German data for pre-1990 results – the data does not include the World Cup, so that’s been taken from the FIFA site). All data runs the range 1950-2010 – both England and Germany appear to have remained roughly constant over the period, so I’m basically using as much of the data as is meaningful (pre-1950, England did not often play internationally, and Germany was an extremely different country).

First of all, how has England done this World Cup?

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