To some, football statistics are a consequence of the era we live in: An era of advanced computing while to some, the likes of Messi and Ronaldo have made it difficult to ignore statistics with their huge pnumbers as regards goals and assists and all other relevant statistics. You could belong to either schools of thought though but one thing is clear, football statistics are here to stay and have become an integral part of football analysis.
Stats have redefined the way football is analysed irrespective of the school of thought you belong to. Footballers despite their performances on the field of play are judged based on their stats. Naturally, the normal distraction will take place and there are players that stats would undermine and others that’ll turn to stat padders.
Stats can be categorised into descriptive and analytical categories. Football statistics presently can be said to be very much descriptive at best. We have stats like: assists, minutes per game, goals, passes, passes completed, tackles, interceptions, blocks, shots per game and so on. These are good stats and they do go a long way in describing performances of footballers. The problem being, it is difficult to make proper and objective analytical points and evaluations from these descriptive stats. An example of this is the NBA. The level and amount of raw stats available in the NBA has made it possible to be objective when analysing player performances and input at the team level. There are analytical and very precise stats available to fans and pundits alike for them to draw meaningful conclusions from them. An example being the PER(player efficiency rating) which basically sums up all the actions from a player and grades it’s effect on the team when he’s in the game. There’s also efficiency ratings on both three pointers and two point shots and a breakdown of stats to levels where they can be easy used to analyse players objectively based on their roles and positions.
Football stats could definitely do better and get to that level if there’s a chance that stats would be used to paint a better picture of player performances. Let’s take passes in a game for example. Presently most available stats available will show total number, percentage completed, key passes, passes in the different halves, touches. These could be okay to describe a performance. But if we went a step further to make the likes of passes that led to a goal scoring chance, long passes, short passes, average length of passes, forward, sideways and backward passes, pass efficiency rating, possession percentage when in play available to everyone, it would bring out an analytical aspect to these statistics. It would certainly change the way we look at footballers and it’ll help fans and pundits alike analyse better and have a fuller picture of a players output, role and effects the system of play is having on their stats.
Occasionally, we come across such statistics and we laud them but at this level of computing, these stats should be available and accessible to fans and pundits at such a detailed level. It would really do football analysis a lot of good if stats are broken down into such detailed categories. It would certainly paint a better picture and improve the number of players covered in the normal distribution.
I’m of the opinion that we will get there. What do you think? Are the present day stats good enough?