Disraeli once said that ‘there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics’. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger clearly disagrees, today revealing the secret to his team’s success, the use of statistics.
Wenger said, when talking of the newly developed Castrol Performance Index:
â€œThe game is played by 11 players and you have only two eyes to observe everything on the pitch.The more concrete data you can have, the happier you are in terms of making the right judgment. Sometimes you are guided too much by the result and can misjudge performances. Data like this helps rate players who maybe you have neglected too much and helps everyone take a more objective view.â€
Mention the infamous Opta Stats to the general fan and they will dismiss it as a tool that can be twisted by anyone to make even Phil Neville look like the new Maradona. But its been fairly well known that managers like Sam Allardyce and Jose Mourinho love the stuff to help compliment what they see on the pitch.
All big Managers have an addiction, a veritable binkie that they can suck on when times are tough, Alex Ferguson’s is blaming refs, Benitez’ is rotation and Wenger’s is statistics, today the Frenchman admitted that he is addicted to them.
Wenger has confirmed everyone’s suspicions, namely that when he starts sniffing around a player he does a ‘background check’ on their statistics, presumably making sure that they can run the 100 metres to an Olympic standard and have had scintillating technique ever since they were toddlers. Wenger continued:
â€œIâ€™m addicted to these kind of statistics.You can assess strengths and weaknesses â€” how many passes a player makes, how many sprints, how many interceptions, assists. Iâ€™m conscious that if I am wrong when bringing in a player, no matter how good my work is afterwards, I will stay wrong. If a train starts on the wrong track, it cannot get to the right station.”
It makes you wonder whether some managers still ignore the use of hard data. Otherwise how can a club sign someone and then discover they are too slow? Or can’t run for the full 90 minutes? Statistics may not tell the whole story, but they can help prevent you looking like a total muppet.