Like Butch Cassidy said, ‘Boy, I got vision and the rest of the world wears bifocals’.
I write a blog post pointing out that passing statistics in football are nothing to get excited about, and a few people see fit to argue. Maybe that’s because they couldn’t be bothered to read the whole blog post properly, or they don’t have the required attention span, or perhaps they just can’t help arguing with things.
To reiterate: nobody wins a football match because of the number of passes they make. In the same way, nobody wins because of the number of corners, nor the numbers of tackles, shots on target, shots off target, saves, interceptions, free-kicks, long balls, bookings, sendings-off or times the manager folds and unfolds his arms. Some of these things have a correlation with results; you can see trends and averages, but you can see trends and averages without recourse to counting everything. Before the season starts you can predict quite a lot about what will happen and even how the table will look at the end, but you can never predict what will happen in an individual match.
Here are some stats for Spurs v West Ham yesterday:
Wow, Spurs did really well, didn’t they? Their passing was nine per cent more accurate than West Ham’s, and they made 56 per cent more passes! In the final third they made 67 per cent more passes! What a great result for Spurs, I bet they were over the moon.
West Ham did manage two more shots, and one more on target than Spurs, but really, who cares about that? Look at the passing stats, they’re much more impressive.