Rear View Mirror: Man City's League Form

It's always fun to look back. Things seem so much clearer and easier to analyse, the emotion has settled and a cold evaluation of facts can be undertaken. This piece will be focused heavily on Man City's 2012/13 Premier league campaign.

If you have read any of the previous articles with my name underneath them then you know what is coming next. This article will look at the underlying numbers behind Man City's season and the reasons why Mancini and the players under his management failed to make a better fist of the title defence.

I am going to look at City's highs and woes in a few different categories and I am going to split those categories into home and away sections (City's away form needs so picked apart). I am also going to use a lot of rolling averages, by doing this we can easily chart Man City's progression and regression in certain areas.

I think it s absolutely vital to explore how Man City's title bid started well, wobbled, steadies and then collapsed. This tail off in form cost Mancini his job, along with the multitude of personality clashes so gleefully, and dutifully, reported in the media.

It was a disappointing season for Mancini and he will know this. He is still young enough to be learning as a manager, and best of luck to him in the future. He'll have regrets about the drift that occured this past season.

Where to start?

Points

Man City's Home and Away points trajectory.

Mc_final_pts_medium

We immediately notice a gap in points between the home and away points totals come the end of the season, but this is natural. Very few teams recordmore away points than home points (Liverpool was one such team, I forget the other), the problem City had was that their away form was pretty average for a team of their resources.

33 points was good for the 5th best away points total. That's a decent total but City needed an excellent away points total and here's why: City's home form in 11/12 was never going to be sustainable, so there was going to be a drop off in home points and this drop off in home points needed to be subsidized with an increase in away form.

City's home points total dropped, as expected, but City's away points total didn't cover for the drop in home points.


Home Away
11/12 55 34
12/13 45 33

The away totals are nearly identical but alas, and I as have said all season, the home points total was never going to be repeated. Man City showed no improvement in away form and dropped away from last years super human points total at The Etihad. The away form is puzzling but there are a couple of explanations for this troublesome area.


Goals

Man City's goals against record was excellent, the best in the Premier League in fact, so in order to keep the word count down I shall ignore it.

Mc_final_goals_for_medium

The problem is pretty clear to see, it's away goals and, specifically, the periods of drought. Both long drought spells are highlighted on the graph, and it's no lie nor stretch of the imagination to link goals scored to wins. This is plain logic. 7 goals in the last 8 away games is just not going to enable the team to win too many games, infact Man City recorded just 10 points from 7 goals scored in those last eight away games. It's a dire return for Man City of this there can be little argument.

Year on year highlights some problems too.


Home Away
11/12 55 38
12/13 41 25

Goals for are down for both home and away categories. Now, a big chunk of City's goals for tally in 2011/12 came from the tremendous pastings City dished out. This year those types of victories virtually ceased to exist and it shows in the chart above.

City were still winning games this year, and at times goals for totals can be over emphasised -only takes 1 goal to record a win - but the low away goals total isn't, was, nor never will be enough to record a very strong away points total on a consistent season-to-season basis.

We know about two important failings so far: Points decline and Goals For decline. Both of these failings can be directly linked to the fact City did not improve upon last seasons away form when it was palpably clear that an improvement in these areas was crucial to the retainment of the PL title.

The 2012/13 drop in home points and goals is understandable, forgivable, even, but the failure to improve the away form has proved costly. So let's now dig further into why the points and goals totals declined for the home and away form.


Shots On Target Ratio

Mc_sot_final_medium

I have highlighted two points, home and away, which indicate the points where Man City's SoT +/- form dipped. I'm not sure why this dip took place, but at a guess I would say this was one of two things. Either it was beach time and any realistic chance to catch United had gone or the opposition had, very suddenly, figured out how to restrict this Man City team. Take your pick!

For both home and away categories Man City lost almost over 1 SoT per game during that end of season run. Still Man City's SoT +/- is strong, the best in the league infact. It is also worth noting that both the home and away SoT +/- are virtually identical.

Why if the SoT +/-'s were strong for both the home and away form do the away goals for and away points records not show this?

Scoring% and PDO

Scoring %

We are looking for reasons why the away goals and away points tally are so much lower than at home.

Mc_final_sc_medium

Away Scoring% is significantly lower than Home Scoring%, but why? The same players featured in home and away games, the same opponents. Hell, Man City were even outshooting the opposition by the same margin. But the goals and points didn't flow as easy away from home and Scoring% is responsible for that. Man City could not convert their dominance of the shots on target count into goals.

PDO

PDO = Scoring% + Save%

Mc_final_pdo_medium

Not only is Scoring% significantly lower for the away form (previous graph) PDO is significantly lower also. Over 20 percentage points lower. Home PDO was around 109, away PDO was around 88. It's an enormous gap and the only other teams in the league to have similar PDO drop off's from their home to away form were Norwich and West Ham, two teams with poor away form.

Man City's away PDO is insurmountable, it is nearly impossible to record a big total of points with such a low number. Infact, it's pretty amazing Man City managed to record 33 away points. This away PDO, was a symptom of the major reason Man City weren't able to record more away points - City just didn't get into the lead early enough in away games. This failure to take the early leads meant Man City were still dominating the SoT count (good teams always will) but just couldn't score which meant their scoring% suffered (21% and second worst in the PL) and this draged their PDO down to a crippling low number, the worst away PDO in the league.

Last season


Home Away
11/12 117.5 113.2
12/13 109.3 88.98

Home PDO dropped off, as did Man United's this year. City's away PDO year to year is just crazy. Man City recorded 34 points in 2011/12 with a 113.2 PDO ( 11/12 pdo was certainly boosted by the hammerings dished out). This year City got 33 points with a PDO that dropped off the edge of a cliff into a hole, down a mine shaft and nearly to the center of the earth a la Jules Verne.

As stated City did extremely well to get the away points total they did considering the PDO they had, but some late winners and tying goals certainly helped.

Conclusion

Man City had some fleeting bright spots in the 2012/13 PL season. Strong home form, an excellent defensive record, the best SoT team in the league and still in the title race up unitl around game 24.

The problems that prevented Man City from launching a more robust defence of their title were too numerous to overcome.The unsustainably good home form was not sustained, the away form that desperately needed boosting did not improve. The away goals total fell heavily and along with it the away points total did not increase as was necessary.

The away form was the big cause of concern, as it was in 11/12, and we saw no improvement due to a lack of time spent winning away from home which, to a certain extent, sent the scoring% and PDO spiralling. City were more than a touch unlucky in suffering that low scoring % and that, ultimately, is at the heart of City's failure this season. The failure to convert their shots and chances superiority is in part bad luck, part tactical and partly on the players.

Can Manuel Pellegrini solve Man City's away woes? He is going to have to find a way to do so if he is to win the title and turning around some of that bad luck in scoring% would certainly help him.

Let's hope Pellegrini is both good and lucky.

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