Rangers lies, damn lies and statistics – the proof of the numbers

Rangers lies, damn lies and statistics – the proof of the numbers
Glen Kamara, midfielder of the Finnish national football team, attends a press conference at the Olympic Stadium in Helsinki, Finland on October 8, 2021, on the eve of the 2022 FIFA World Cup European Qualifying match between Finland and Ukraine. - Finland OUT (Photo by Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva / AFP) / Finland OUT (Photo by JUSSI NUKARI/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulars to Ibrox Noise will know we’re big believers in data, and specifically stats. The world has changed in football, where signings are now heavily data-driven, so as much as winger ‘A’ looks great and is quick, are his ‘expected’ goals matching what he actually produces on the pitch?

In short, Rangers fans, like most football fans, love a badge-kissing player who scores a worldie, and who reciprocates supporter affection, but the club and other clubs aren’t half as interested in how much he wants to be at Rangers or to join Rangers, they want numbers.

Why are data and stats so important?

Because they’re objective and factual.

Ibrox Noise frequently reports stats in the player ratings, and those ratings frequently get abuse from some fans convinced they were watching a different match. But the reality is what you think you see is definitely not what is actually there.

Two people can see the same player and have completely different interpretations of how he’s playing. One fan sees Sakala looking hungry and making the runs, another sees him being selfish, getting caught offside and running like his eyes are closed. Both are right and both are wrong, but the stats are always correct.

It’s a necessary evil, in a way, because we know fine well that fans will react to a performance with praise, because of one goal, one assist, one moment that sticks out – but the stats tell a different story, and that moment was the only contribution the player made.

So we use stats, in conjunction with what we think we see, to get the most accurate picture we can. The ratings we give are based on a mix of what we think we saw, and the factual data of what the player actually produced. A seeming lovely cross from Borna is kind of pointless if no one is on the end of it. That is the fact – that’s an inaccurate cross. And that counts against him, not for him.

Then there’s the other side, Glen Kamara, the photo above, the king of why stats aren’t completely the answer – Glen could have a 95% passing rate, but produces no obvious influence and has no heart – but we can’t exactly measure guts and heart in a number.

So we do have to trust some of what we’re seeing as well.

Stats are key, they tell a huge amount of the picture but they’re not completely reliable, as Mr Glen would tell you.

But what’s the point here?

Rangers’ numbers this season are enlightening, but the one which really stands out is that we top the table for shots per game (19.9) – in other words we get in even more shots than Celtic.

And yet, we’re 9 points behind.

What’s the answer to that one? It means Rangers are nowhere near efficient enough up front. Celtic are infinitely more ruthless than we are when it comes to goals, which you already knew, but you probably thought they were getting in more shots too.

They’re not.

Rangers are on the right lines, but it’s still not efficient and effective enough, and while we could see that particular area with the eye, the stats back it up.

And that’s why stats will always have a place when the eye sometimes tells you differently.

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