Being a statistician in a former life, and knowing how statistics plays a big part in analysis in today’s game, I thought I’d delve into a few things that have being piquing my interest of late.
After Dan Neil’s sending off against Middlesbrough, sparking our mini-slump, I was scratching my head as to our performance when going down to ten men.
Since we returned to the Championship, we’ve had a played sent off six times. Of those games, we have lost four, drawn one and won one.
The one we won, was Birmingham at home on April 15th this year. Dennis Cirkin was sent off for a second yellow card in the 78th minute. The game was already at 2-1 to the lads. Birmingham had little to offer, and the lads held out for the last 12 minutes with the man reduction.
The drawn game was at Hull just before Christmas, when Elliot Embleton injured himself in a reckless tackle in the 59th minute with the score still blank. Ross Stewart put us ahead in the 74th minute, only for Hull to equalise in the 84th.
What is interesting is that the four games we have lost when going down to ten men is that all but one of the games saw the player sent off in the first half.
We were already 2-0 down to Ipswich when Trai Hume was sent off in the 72nd minute. In the other three games, players were sent off in the first half and had a demonstrable effect on the game. Dan Neil’s sending off against Sheffield United left us vulnerable at the back.
And though we rallied midway through the second half, we couldn’t recover the second goal. We were also blighted by poor refereeing as the second Sheffield goal that night was clearly offside.
At home to Swansea in January, Luke O’Nien’s bonkers tackle in the 18th minute left the team weakened and the Welsh side took advantage.
The most recent sending off was Dan Neil, which can be argued to be the most damaging, as he was badly missed at Stoke in the next game. He was sent off for swearing, when observing that the ball was ‘f**king ours’ 20 feet away from the ref. The referee has since apologised. But why wasn’t the suspension rescinded?
Without Ekwah, the midfield was bereft. And Middlesbrough manager Michael Carrick got his tactics spot on, targeting a woefully weak midfield. Why Luke O’Nien wasn’t pushed up into midfield and Nectarios Triantis brought into defence is another head scratcher.
In conclusion, our game management when a player is sent off in the first half is much worse than in the second. That might seem an obvious thing to conclude, but it provides some food for thought for the management.
Though, we’re probably best not having anyone sent off in the first place, eh?