Pretty soon I'm going to start writing the Manchester City statistical blog over at http://www.eplindex.com/ (@EPLIndex). I also just read Pay As You Play by Paul Tomkins. If you haven't read it and you're interested in statistics and football, you should really give it a read. The book basically outlines the trend in the EPL that money buys points using what Tomkins calls the Transfer Price Index. More specifically, the higher the cost of the XI (Tomkins refers to this as £XI) the more a team tends to win. Of course, there are exceptions to this, but in general it seems to hold true. Anyways, when I was reading the book I thought it would be a good idea to analyze City using Tomkin's data, especially when I saw that my future fellow City blogger at EPL Index Danny Pugsley (@danny_pugsley) wrote the "Expert View" for the City section. I'm no expert on the analysis that Tomkins does, but I understand a good amount from reading the book. The subject of the book rings especially true for City considering the recent Abu Dhabi takeover and sudden influx of large amounts of cash for the club.
Some notes before the analysis: One, the data I am using is all from the book Pay As You Play, as I mentioned above. Two, make sure to notice some data is missing for years when City was not in the top flight. Three, the data in the book only goes to the 2009/2010 season, so the 2010/2011 season is missing.
Basically, I looked at 3 questions: 1.) Does City really spend more money since the Abu Dhabi take over? 2.) Does a higher £XI cost equate to success for City in the EPL? 3.) Screw 1 and 2. What if City keeps buying Robinho's?
Does City really spend more money since the Abu Dhabi take over?
Yeah, really dumb question. Pretty obvious the answer is yes. Below is the graph comparing the league average starting eleven cost and the City starting eleven cost since 1992. In the 2008/2009 City's £XI is higher than the league average for the first time since the 1994/1995 season. Remember, Abu Dhabi took over at the start of the 2008/2009 season. For the 2009/2010 season it skyrockets to over £120,000,000. City now has money to spend.
Does a higher £XI equate to success for City in the EPL?
The answer Tomkins gives for EPL clubs in his book is yes. Again, this makes sense. Clubs that are able to spend more on players should be able to produce higher quality sides and win more. I wanted to analyze specifically City's success, so I looked at the data to see if their £XI rank in the EPL follows their league position. In other words, does City succeed more when they spend more? Looking at the graph below, the answer seems to be yes. The league postion (green line) generally follows the club's £XI rank (orange line).
Screw 1 and 2. What if City keeps buying Robinho's?
The first two graphs seem to point to inevitable success for City. They have a lot of money and money can buy success, so they'll succeed, right? People will obviously point to some recent not-so-successful expensive purchases. Robinho, Jo, and Santa Cruz are the 3 big ones. Each has had start percentages of 47, 16, and 16 respectively, despite a massive total cost of £69,000,000. A good graphic to show the efficiency of purchases is the cost per point used in
Pay As You Play
. Clubs that are efficient in this regard will have spent less money per point earned, while clubs that are inefficient will do the opposite. The graph shows how much City spent in each year for each point they earned. Not surprisingly, the cost per point has spiked since 2008. This may seem like money is being wasted. While City may not be getting as much bang for their buck, it likely won't matter in terms of success. According to Tomkins, the highest cost per point goes to Chelsea in 2006/2007. They finished in 2nd that year. It seems that simply having a lot of money can trump inefficiencies displayed from the cost per point value. Tomkins even refers to City's high cost per point on page 18: "Manchester City will certainly close the gap for this unwanted honour (although if they win the league, they won't care what people think; they could probably afford to pay £4m or £5m per point if it would guarantee them success)." So yes, City may make some poor purchases like Robinho, Jo, and Santa Cruz in the future. All in all, it doesn't matter that much though. City has so much money that they'll win anyways.