Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Can We Play Away Every Week?

I'm sure I'm not the only one who dreads home games? Not because of the football, because of the utter gobshites I have to sit around.  It's all well and good shouting and screaming all sorts of abuse at the players, but doing that instead of supporting them and making POSITIVE noises just isn't the correct way of supporting your football club, in my opinion. 

Now before I get anyone steaming in with the old 'Well I've paid my money, I can boo if I like' comment, fair enough, but is verbally abusing a player the right thing to do DURING a game? If you want to show your displeasure, do it AFTER the match. When the game is going on you need to support your team, make them feel comfortable so they get a result which will please your wallet.  Imagine if you're at work, with your boss or customer constantly abusing you just because you're doing your job, it'll hurt won't it? You'll end up growing resentful of that person and lose respect for them.  Now I'm not saying football players try any harder when they're cheered on, as opposed to when they're not, but it creates a comfortable atmosphere for them to settle down and play the game without any nerves. If you feel comfortable and happy at work, you'll probably find you'll be more productive, rather than when you're looking over your shoulder for a snidey comment from someone. Can you imagine what they feel like knowing every potential stray pass will lead to all sorts of abuse from thousands of people? Football isn't a computer game where you enter some instructions in and expect to win. It's a game that's played by actual human beings, with emotions and everything.

But seeing as our fans EXPECT football to played that way (pay your money, sit down, expect to be entertained without giving any encouragement), I'm going to present some numbers to show how bad our home form is.  I'm not really a person to judge anything on stats though, I think they're extremely useful, but I don't agree with people who base an whole point-of-view on them.  In this case, I'm going to use them as a guide to ask why our home form has dipped dramatically since the arrival of Roberto Martinez.

During his first three seasons in charge, Roberto has a home win percentage of 28% with away wins at 17%. A big difference you might think? Not really - you should be aiming to win at least twice more at home as you do away.  For a club who have been struggling for the last 4 years, our away win percentage is very high when compared to our home performances.  It's only the first season (2009-10) that shows a big difference between the two - we won 6 at home and 3 away, with 7 home and 3 away draws.  We also conceded 24 home goals and 55 away. In total, we collected 25 points at home, compared to 11 away.  From that you can see our away form is pretty bad and we draw far too many games at home.

It's from the second season though that things dramatically change.  That season saw us win 5 at home and 4 away, however we conceded LESS goals away than we did at home that season. The draw count is similar too - 8 at home and 7 away.  15 draws out of 38! There's the problem right there. The points totals are slowly coming together too - 23 at home and 19 away. That means we collected 8 more points on the road and lost 2 at home, from last season. 

The next season saw our away performances improve further, although we conceded 7 more away than we did at home, we won 6 of those games, compared to 5 wins at home. We also only scored 2 less goals away than we did at home.  It's the points that make the most interesting reading though - we only collected 1 more point (22) at home than we did away.  You can see that our total collected points are about to overlap each other and go in opposite directions.

From those stats, you can see that season-by-season our home form is regressing and our away form is improving - even this season has seen us collect more points when playing away.  As I said previously though, these stats can only be used as a guide, as in reality football squads change and circumstances may arise. I mean, do you honestly believe we'd be in the same position if we didn't have so many injuries and dodgy refereeing decisions (both for and against)? Statistics can't predict that. What we can say with some certainty, is that we just don't get enough points at home under Roberto and it's a huge problem. We've drawn 4 at home this season - twice as much as we've won. Is this the fault of the manager? On the other hand, the away stats alone suggest he's doing a decent job - our 3 away wins this season puts us on a par with West Brom, Liverpool and Sunderland (2 of those beat us at home, by the way).

Now I'm not saying it's the fault of the fans that we're shit at home, what I'm saying is that, for some reason, the players obviously don't feel comfortable playing at home and regularly perform better away, as they're playing without the added pressure of needing to play well at home. So we're not exactly devoid of any blame, are we? You could also push some of that blame on the manager and the players if I'm honest.  I don't think the manager, especially, does enough to explain why he takes certain decisions, which can only rile up those ready for a screaming session when they turn up at the stadium every other week.  But these people aren't bad people who do it because they really want to, yes they're gobshites, but they're frustrated. Frustrated that we can win and perform well away but play awful at home. The team have a duty to win a few games of football in front of their home supporters, fans have a duty to support them in that quest.  It isn't the fault of one single group, it's all our fault. We're a club, we're supposed to be in this together. Let's start pulling in the same direction. Who knows? We might even get somewhere.