Thursday, 27 July 2017

Data, stats and the new 2017/18 football season

It’s almost here. Not long now until the new football season and the start of Rangers’ 2017/18 campaign with the first match away of course to Motherwell on August 5 and then the first home game against Hibernian a week later on August 12. Ibrox Stadium will soon once again feel the noise…

“Follow. Follow. We will follow Rangers: Everywhere, anywhere.

“We will follow on…”

The summer hiatus is always a tricky time for football fans, and more so this year for us Gers fans what with that difficult and rather ‘unthinkable’defeat in Luxembourg and the early exit from the UEFA Europa League qualifiers.

Pass the tissues.

But let’s not dwell on it anymore…

And at least there were other distractions with no league matches on, and while there’s nothing wrong with watching a bit of Wimbledon, or playing some poker, be it Texas Holdem, Omaha or 7 Card Stud and so on, nothing beats seeing the Gers on pitch, especially for the start of a new campaign. Those other sports though, are having an influence on ‘the beautiful game’ – and vice versa, and the role of analytics can be seen everywhere these days, from football to baseball,the NFL and poker. Data and stats can’t be dismissed – we see it in TV coverage, with fantasy football, gaming and in sports themselves as illustrated in the Brad Pitt film from 2011, ‘Moneyball’, and in books like, ‘The Numbers Game: Why Everything You Know About Football is Wrong’, written by Chris Anderson (not of Aberdeen fame) and David Sally. Fascinating stuff and who’d have thought analytics could be applied to sports as diverse as football, baseball and poker.

Maybe someone should mention the role of data and analytics to Pedro Caixinha?

Might be a tad more effective than banning players from wearing green boots!

Just a thought…

The most important thing now, however, is to look forward and as reported a few weeks back on this very site if star defender and new summer signing Bruno Alves has faith and if all the players are ‘100% behind’ our Portuguese manager surely that has to mean something.


Let’s just hope that that UEFA Europa League defeat – sorry I know I said I’d move on, but let’s just hope it does act as some sort of motivator or spur as Niko Kranjcar recently inferred in an article on Rangers’ official website.

“Unfortunately the European result happened…” he said.

“I think it is still there deep down emotionally in us, and we are ready to go and prove some people wrong.

“We want to start getting it right and the only way we can start getting it right is by winning three points in the league, and obviously to try and win in the cup games too.”

That’s what we want to hear… and more importantly see on pitch. More performances like that against Marseille. Actions speak louder than words as they say.

Meanwhile, as an aside, it is great to see that the Scottish Professional Football League (SPFL) will not take any further action against Rangers over the use of employee benefit trusts (EBTs) and tax schemes from 2001 to 2010. Us Gers have suffered enough in recent years for what has happened off-pitch.

Here then is to start of the 2017/18 season, our second season back in the Scottish Premier League and hopefully one with lots of goals from the likes of Martyn Waghorn, Kenny Miller and Daniel Candeias et al.

“Follow. Follow. We will follow Rangers: Everywhere, anywhere.

“We will follow on…”

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