Top of the managers league: is it simply a game of averages?

Written by Rob Mastrodomenico on . Posted in Features

In the BBC Sport website article ‘Managerial league table 2012-13: Who leads the way?’ each manager in the top 4 divisions is ranked using an approach based on the points per game record they have obtained this season.
Top of the league is Sir Alex Ferguson (his team, Manchester United is at the top of the Premier League table). Whilst it would be hard to argue that Sir Alex is not the best manager in the business, can we argue the approach used is best to rank managers?
There are a number of issues, but for now, let’s concentrate on one – the difference in the number of games managers have been in charge for.
Roberto Mancini has taken charge of 25 Manchester City games this season and sits in 4th place with 2.12 points per game. However the managers in 5th and 6th positions, David Flitcroft of Barnsley and Brian Flynn of Doncaster Rovers, have only managed their sides for 5 and 3 games respectively and come in with a 2 points per game average.
Are these small sample of games enough to give a true reflection of how good they are? Would we expect both managers to average 2 points per game when they have been in charge for 25 games?
We’re not intending to provide commentary on how good any one of these managers are but it is important to be aware that when we have an average we need to understand how we arrived at that number and how to interpret it.

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