Expected Points Differences: Championship

Mike Holden by Mike Holden / 07 October 2016, 11:08

In the third of four articles on managers' Expected Points Differences Mike Holden (@Ratings_Mike) takes a look at the Championship.

(For a full description of the Expected Points Differences concept check out the information beneath the graphic below)

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Huddersfield were the Championship’s worst-kept secret in the summer, their summer business making them everybody’s chosen dark horse, yet still David Wagner has managed to exceed expectations with a remarkable start to the season. The Terriers are sitting pretty at the top of the table with 25 points, almost ten points more than expected by the betting markets.

The German has shown an astonishing level of control and efficiency, bringing an equivalent touch of star quality that the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp have bestowed upon the Premier League. The objective now for Town must be to ensure that Wagner’s head isn’t turned by admiring glances from bigger clubs unhappy with their lot.

The dismissal of Roberto Di Matteo at Aston Villa immediately set tongues wagging with Wagner’s name automatically linked with the vacancy and the accompanying table goes some way to explaining why Tony Xiu called time on the Italian’s reign at Villa Park. However, had games finished on 80 minutes, Di Matteo would have been 3.34 points in credit and seventh in the table.

Nigel Pearson appears to be a dead-man walking at Derby, the former Leicester boss is currently suspended following a behind-the-scenes confrontation with owner Mel Morris, with bizarre reports emerging since that drones have been used to spy on training sessions. If correct, such interference should concern the Rams faithful.

It’s all a bit of a soap opera but the bottom line is that results haven’t been good enough. Pearson inherited a team lacking mental fortitude, and he needed time and patience to change the culture. But the Expected Points measurement shows how quickly things tend to come to a head, one way or another, when results, even in a transitional period, aren’t up to scratch.

Paul Trollope is next on the list of managers in danger and earlier this week paid the price for Cardiff's poor start to the season. Cardiff are currently second from bottom on eight points from 11 matches, six of those points picked up against direct rivals Blackburn and Rotherham, both of whom occupy the drop zone alongside them.

Needless to say, Owen Coyle and Alan Stubbs are both in a perilous position at the moment but whereas Coyle’s problems appear to be easing in light of improving results and performances, Stubbs’ stock is on the decline following a run of four straight defeats. Unlike Coyle, he has also has the additional problem of an assertive owner who cares.

Credit must go to Gary Rowett and Lee Johnson for their achievements up to this point. We probably shouldn’t be surprised to see Rowett towards the top of any objective metric such as this - the surprise is that expectations haven’t risen in accordance with the consistency that he delivers.

Johnson, though, has made a fine start to his first season in the Championship and he is reaping the rewards of his outstanding scouting network and contacts book with the acquisition of Tammy Abraham. The 20-year-old Chelsea loanee has bagged 11 goals already, his eight in the league worth six points to Johnson. Without them, he would be operating to a small loss.

Championship Expected Points Differences

Expected Points Difference - What is it?

Expected Points is a way of converting bookmakers’ match prices into predicted outcomes by turning percentage probabilities into points values. It’s a helpful method of measuring performance versus expectations because it puts a cap on how much samples of data can be skewed by outliers, such as a freak 16/1 winner that subsequently needs 16 poor results to be cancelled out.

Example: if Team A is deemed to have a 52 per cent chance of winning before a match and the draw is a 28 per cent chance, their Expected Points value is 1.84 (0.52 x 3, plus 0.28). Likewise, if Team B has a 20 per cent chance of winning, their Expected Points value is 0.88 (0.20 x 3, plus 0.28). 

If the match then finishes a draw, the result is worth -0.84 points to Team A and +0.12 points to Team B. This can be an excellent way of measuring pressure on managers because bookmakers’ prices tend to be a reliable gage of what they should be achieving. Consistently, those towards the bottom of the table tend to be the ones out of a job first - or next! 

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