Well I guess Tony Blair is breathing a sigh of relief that there is not going to be a state funeral for Gaddafi
so that his friendship with the great departed is not once again brought to the fore
Whatever his faults, there is no denying the ex-leader`s longevity on the world stage. When he was the new kid on the block
he was mixing (or not as the case may be) with the likes of Nasser, Nixon, Breznev and Pompidou
Here is a chart of some of the leaders he mingled with
His fellow totalitarian neighbours in Egypt and Tunisia also lasted in power for many years whilst the highest turnover has been in Israel
which sported 12 change of leadersips during his 30 plus term
I have yet to read Malcolm Gladwell’s book ‘Outliers’, but one of the chapters deals with how the structure of competitive minor hockey – where players are chosen on a calendar year basis – produces a much higher proportion of NHL players born in early part of year. The theory is that at age 7-8, the size and coordination advantage of a few months is telling and once you do not make a AAA team with its better coaching and competition it is hard to catch up.
Apparantly, he also looked at soccer in Europe, where the results were even more marked
Here are the number of EPL players since its inception who were born by month (adjusted to take account of varying days within month)
What’s going on here? There appears to be a downward trend going on but suddenly there is a leap. Let’s have a look based on a September start-up, the beginning of the school year in England
That is pretty telling. I have been out of the country for many years but back then school soccer was the main outlet for young children. This has likely changed somewhat and the same age-criteria for selecting representative teams may differ but the EPL data include all those who have appeared since 1992 and who will have been youngsters from the early seventies onwards
English players have accounted for around 50% of all players so let’s seperate them out and also show other countries which have contributed 35 or more players into the system
Most of the other countries have small sample sizes. Of the other major sources Scotland may have a similar, but less pronounced, trend but France is all over the map.
Seeing England in isolation, the general linear trend (apart from a couple of hiccups) is clear. Applying a linear regression to that data gives
Count = 210 -11 x monthOrder
which means that for every month later in the year (starting September) a boy is born there is a 5% less chance of him making the show
Something to think about in those long winter months
With Tevez’s refusal to play as a sub for man City against Bayern Munich, there can be little doubt that his days at the club are numbered. However, his two seasons there have been extremely productive.
Here are how his goal contributions – scoring or creating – stack up in the Man City pantheon of the EPL years
Tevez has strong claims to being the best Man City forward of the past twenty plus years as only Anelka’s 2002/3 season, where the Frenchman contributed to 55% of the goals on a much less productive team, bears comparison.
It is not just within his club that Tevez has shone
Over the past two season’s only Drogba – another player out of favour – has pipped him as the leading attacking star on a club
Peter Crouch picked up his first goal in 14 league appearances against Man U, thus denying the champions six wins on the trot to start the season. However, five wins and a draw is not that shabby. The fiver to start has only been matched on three previous occasions and exceeded twice, by Chelsea’s 9 victories in 2005/6 and Newcastle’s 6 in 1994/5
However, the unbeaten sequence is still intact – as it is for cross-town rivals, City, Aston Villa and Newcastle
Here are how the 406 teams have fared in the EPL’s 20 year history in terms of unbeaten starts to the campaign
Typically, one team goes undefeated for at least ten games at the start of the year with the best performances United’s own run last year – before Wolves beat them in the 25th game of the season – and the unvanquished Arsenal squad of 2003/4
But is a fast start the secret of success? Here is a plot comparing the number of wins to start the season with final League position
Of the previous five teams which started with five wins or more, only Newcastle have failed to manage a top two finish. Other teams that started in a rush but soon ran out of steam include the 4 win Charlton of 2005/6 which finished 12th and Ipswich in 1993/4 who racked up 3 victories but who only just clung on to premiership status as they ended the season in 19th place in the then 22 team division
Based on this blog, I have produced a heatmap of the leading goalscorers by club by season. It is a compact way of highlighting data for further investigation as well as indicating the seasons that each club have been in the EPL.
Ideally I would sort this on total club goals scored (Man U lead Arsenal in that category) and will update if possible to cater for this
It is interesting to look back to the inaugural season when none of the top four leading scorers played for a team that finished in the top seven of the league whilst Wimbledon’s top scorers only managed in 4 in 1997/8 but they still avoided relegation.
One other highight is Andy Johnsons tally of 21 in 2004/5. Significantly more than any player has scored in a single season for ever-presents Everton (16) and Aston Villa (17) but not enough to save Crystal Palace from relegation
If you want to dig further for information try my stats website