Based on precedent, and what I’ve learned from reading some of the more erudite European football journalists, I’ve devised a simple model which I believe is the basis of how observers will judge Carlo Ancelotti’s future tenure at Real Madrid, his new club.
I don’t have the mathematical chops to express this algebraically (I’d be obliged to any analytics readers who do), but generally the conventional model for success at the Bernebeu is the total number of trophies won weighted for the manager’s salary, the total transfer outlay available to him by the president, and his previous record of success.
In other words, Carlo Ancelotti, who will almost certainly earn less than Jose Mourinho (although we can’t be certain until terms or rumours of terms are disclosed), who may enjoy less of a ‘transfer kitty’ than his predecessor, and has a smaller career win percentage under roughly comparable experience, will be judged on slighted less harsh terms should he win the same or fewer number of trophies than Mourinho.
Is this model an effective way to judge managerial performance? I would say no. While trophies are the universal symbol of success, they are often the product of luck and the aggregate individual skill of the players more than specific managerial competence. Knock out competitions in particular are often determined in single 90 minute matches, which means random variation counts for a lot. Win percentages are likely a better measure of the merits of a managerial process.
This model also presumes that spending has a 1 for 1 correlation with team skill. We know that while the relationship between wage/transfer spending and table position is strong, it is not deterministic. I would argue that most non-Madristas would probably hold it to be a non-controversial position that Barcelona is an objectively better team than Madrid. This would imply that Real Madrid would not only have to perform at its peak to beat their Catalan rivals, but would require “something more.” Providing this over a 38-game season would be a difficult proposition for any manager. That Mourinho achieved it last season was incredible enough; that he could not repeat the feat with a league win percentage of 68.4% is remarkable.
For the time being however, we’ll have to live with the journalistic model.