I’ve already received a little criticism for focusing on a relatively minor story from the Championship this morning, but I think Alex McLeish’s mutually-agreed departure from Nottingham Forest is illustrative for anyone interested in the insanity of multiple managerial sackings, particularly in clubs with volatile and unpredictable owners like the al-Hawasi family.
The key here is to look to see if was in fact any underlying method to Fawaz al-Hasawi’s madness in sacking Sean O’Driscoll after Forest beat Leeds 4-2 on Boxing Day, and whether the departure of McLeish bodes badly for the clubs continued fortunes.
In examining Forest, I borrowed James Grayson’s method of calculating the team’s moving average Total Shots Ratio, which measures a teams underlying ability to control play, a generally good indicator of potential final table position (longer explanation of TSR here).
Here is Notts Forest Average TSR during this season:
There are a number of possible conclusions one can make from this. First, Forest seemed to be on the cusp of a dip in overall TSR before O’Driscoll was sacked following Forest’s victory over Leeds. McLeish’s hiring hasn’t exactly fired the team back into its earlier form (and we should be careful here as the sample provided is about as small as it could be to maintain any predictive power). McLeish’s power instead seems to have been to keep the team in stasis, just above the .500 mark.
Second, it should be noted that despite a volatile 2011-12 season under Steve Cotterill, the club’s fundamentals were strong, with a .560 TSR, second only to the eventual champions Southampton. Their PDO, which is an extension of a club’s given luck (explanation here), was the lowest in the Championship at 869.
In other words, Forest were unlucky last season. As Grayson wrote last year, “If you’re looking to back a team for promotion next year you’ll get great odds on Forest.” This year, their average PDO is 992, meaning the club’s results are roughly in line with their overall ability. Had the al-Hasawi family been aware of these numbers back in July 2012 and their importance, they might have avoided the disaster that is the 2012-13 season.