On the Moyes Sacked thread Darren Hind and Brian Denton had a difference of opinion on the relative performances of Moyes and Martinez away from home, particularly against the ‘top four.’ It intrigued me enough to do some research into the same. It makes interesting, but not necessarily, happy reading.
I looked at the 11 full seasons under Moyes and the two full seasons under Martinez. I focused on final finishing position and how many games we won away and looked at how many wins were against the higher ranked sides.
The following data lists the season, final position, number of away games won, and a comment on the ‘distribution’ of the away wins. For Moyes the record reads:
|2002-03||7||6||1 win in top 14 Blackburn 6th, other 5 away wins to bottom 6|
|2003-04||17||1||1 win Portsmouth 13th|
|2004-05||4||6||3 wins top 15 Man City 8th, Villa 10th, Birmingham 15th|
|2005-06||11||6||3 wins top 16 Blackburn 6th, Bolton 8th, M'boro 14th|
|2006-07||6||4||2 wins top 16 Spurs 5th, Reading 8th|
|2007-08||5||8||0 wins top 8|
|2008-09||5||9||0 wins top 6|
|2009-10||8||5||2 wins top 15, Man City 5th, Blackburn 10th|
|2010-11||7||4||2 wins top 16, Man City 3rd (only top 4 away win in 11 seasons under Moyes), Newcastle 12th|
|2011-12||7||5||3 wins top 17, Fulham 9th, WBA 10th, Swansea 11th|
|2012-13||6||4||2 wins top 14, Swansea 9th WHU 10th|
|2013-14||5||8||2 wins top 11, Man Utd 7th, Newcastle 10th|
|2014-15||11||5||1 win top 10, Palace 10th|
To first recap Darren’s and Brian’s respective positions: Darren is of the opinion that Martinez’s record against top 4 sides away from home “is even more embarrassing” than Moyes’.
He discounts Martinez’s win at Old Trafford as the home side were “a very very ordinary Man Utd at a time when seemingly everyone was winning there. They were nowhere near top four.”
Darren considers “the facts, stats and results say that Martinez's record is worse than Moyes,” adding he has achieved just one single away win in his two full seasons against the top NINE clubs. Darren claims Martinez has not beaten a top 4 side away from home, but that Moyes did it on more than one occasion.
Brian lists his personal Sky 4 as Man Utd, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool, excluding Man City. As such, he considers Martinez HAS won away at a top 4 side.
Darren counters by questioning how Brian can omit Man City from his Top 4 list, and Brian reasonable questions how can Darren, by the same logic, discount Man Utd from the Top 4.
Studying the data against Darren’s and Brian’s opinions, I have to question Darren’s conclusions and some of his claims which are patently wrong.
For me, the year-on-year data is damning: Everton do not solely have a problem winning away at the top four, they have a problem winning away to three-quarters of the league, regardless of who the manager is.
In 13 seasons we have achieved just one away victory to a side that finished top 4 – under Moyes at Man City who finished 3rd in 2010-11, so Moyes did NOT (as Darren claims) win away to a top 4 side “on more than one occasion.”
The further question in this analysis is what does constitute a top four team? Is it only those teams that finish in the top 4 in a given season? Or do we acknowledge that, in the PL era, there is a hierarchy, an historical top 4 clubs that is the yardstick to measure performances against?
If the former, Brian has to acknowledge Moyes did beat a top 4 side away with the win at Man City in 2010-11. If the latter, Darren cannot dismiss Martinez’s victory at Old Trafford in 2013-14.
Personally, I think both positions are permissible. Clearly Man City were a top 4 side when Everton won there under Moyes. And yes, while Darren has a point that Man Utd only finished 7th when Martinez won there, to insist as he does on excluding United as a top 4 side whilst simultaneously insisting City should be regarded as an (historical) top 4 side is contradictory.
Why? Because, in the 23 seasons of Premier League football, United have failed only once to finish top 4 – the season we won at Old Trafford. Even with that 7th placed finish, their average finishing position in 23 years is... 1.87. To me, that is a mind-boggling stat, that on average they are champions or runners-up.
To compare, Man Utd’s record of 22 top 4 finishes in 23 PL seasons, they are followed for consistency for top 4 finishes by Arsenal (20), Chelsea (14) and Liverpool (13). Lagging way behind are Man City with 5. All of City’s top 4 finishes have been in the last five seasons, since they became a moneyed club. The ONLY other teams to have made to top 4 in 23 seasons of Premier League football are the following (with possibly some surprises…):
Newcastle (5), Blackburn and Leeds (3), Spurs and Aston Villa (2), with Everton bracketed with Norwich and Forest as the only other clubs with a single top 4 finish.
A final snippet of data to take from this exercise is that, in the 23 seasons of Premier League football, Everton’s average finishing position is 10.43. Taking that number as a baseline, it can be reasonably said Moyes had a single ‘over-par’ season when finishing 17th in 2003-04 and nine comfortable under-par seasons. He and Martinez each have a ‘par’ season by finishing 11th (seasons 2005-06 and 2014-15), whilst Martinez had an under-par season first time around.