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Magath and the not so terrible, not quite horrible, still bad start to the season

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Things are bad. Their not horrible, not yet.

Charlie Crowhurst

So you came to your job yesterday and the first thing you did is hit up facebook or twitter or friends of Fulham or whatever you to  engage with other fans and supporters via Social Media. Then, you waited. You waited and you waited and you continue to wait for news that would seemingly make you feel better about what happened this past weekend in Derby. You want to hear Felix Magath is fired.

While this is probably a normal reaction based upon the situation it doesn't seem likely. Shahid Khan came out yesterday and gave his backing to the Fulham Manager, and that is that. You don't have to like it. You don't have to even consider it smart. But what it means is that you'll have to wait longer for a move to be made.

One of the few positives that comes from the early season slide is the unity that has come from across the supporter base, even if it's to try and see the manager fired. I feel like this might be one of the few times in the past two years that supporters, both abased and abroad, have come together to agree on something. Anything. After all the frustration of arguing about Martin Jol, Dimitar Berbatov, and Bryan Ruiz, there seems to be an internal peace amidst all the problems and frustrations.

This is great and I think it should be acknowledged.

Magath has done a lot of things that cause concern and has brought much of this ire upon himself. The results under his stewardship are underwhelming if not entirely pathetic. That much is true. The tipping point for everyone has seemed to be this weekends match where Fulham came absolutely undone in the second half after a short lived equalizer by way of Scotty Parker. Even those that were content to wait and see how things normalized and matured over the season seem presently unnerved.

Losing 4 straights games will do this to any fan base. As I said on Saturday post-match it's the type of thing that just irritates and festers because it's a stinging reminder that simply won't go away. Because results are permanent things. Everyone one sees them and we become easily mocked among not just the media but other supporters.

One thing to keep in mind however is that results are not necessarily fair and judiciously award to teams that play the best or warrant points based on play. It's given to the team that has the most goals at the end of the game. Duh, right? Well, scoring goals isn't solely based upon skill. There are goals scored every week where a player probably wouldn't be able to recreate the goal scoring event if he was forced into it by playing a game of horse--soccer style.

Those that have been comparing our horror ordeal last year to this year's ghastly start are comparing apples to oranges. Still fruit, just different. Take a look at the numbers.

 

  shots in 18 shots out 18 total shots %on target chances created duel%
2013-14 11 25 36 44 25 49%
2014-15 26 33 59 39 47 51%

 

Shooting skill is a lot of things and is questioned by many involved in the higher education of the game. It's the ability to put the ball into a specific region of space at a specific time resisting the onset distractions taking composure to complete the action for the best possible scenario. The problem with that is the higher you go in competitive play the average level of athlete also progresses.

The difference between Chris David shooting a ball and Ross McCormack are likely negligible. The difference between McCormack and Jordan Rhodes are also likely miniscule. While the skill exists for them, the thing is if they were bad at it they wouldn't be playing at the Championship or Premier League level. It wouldn't happen.

So looking at the fact that the club has only managed to produce 39% of their shots on target seems bad. It seems very bad. But that's based on a lot of factors and likely led primarily by luck. Sure, I will concede they've had a host of shots blocked early this year. But blocked shots are not something that I've seen necessarily proven to be a repeatable event. I would contend that many shots have been blocked because of the fact they've taken such a huge percentage taken inside their opponents 18 yard box, which are of a higher quality of chance to score.

Fulham scoring 2 goals in the first four matches isn't a predictor or gauge of quality for this attack. Rather it speaks to the luck and result that we've had so far. It implies mistakes or problems. A quality side doesn't loose 4 matches in a row. Likewise any club that looses 4 matches in a row... or more, usually does so under the duress of poor luck.

I'll be the first to agree that you can't just look at these specific points and conclude that things will be peachy once more. You have to look at game state information for context. You have to judge the situations across different games and cross reference events. All those numbers will come very soon and we'll talk about them as their produced.

Felix Magath has made odd personnel decisions. Those decisions haven't necessarily played out the way he has hoped. Because they didn't work out we groan and complain. I question though what if they had worked out. What if Magath used the exact 18 in each game and the results swung different. What if Fulham is sitting with three wins and a draw at this point? No one is calling for his head because of line-up decisions? We'd probably still be a bit dumbfounded about how youngster are being tossed to-and-fro out of the starting XI but we'd be inclined to allow that to run the course of the season.

I plan on giving Magath 11 more league matches to decide whether he needs to go or not. That takes us through the first week of November. It would give us ample opportunity to see what this season is about. Four losses to open the season is bad. It's not so bad that it would rule out an opportunity to still make a playoff spot. It also certainly wouldn't imply we're going to get relegated either.

A total of 15 matches would give us a good set of data to see where this season is headed. I wasn't so certain at the start of the season that this would be a year that would reward us with a promotion. That said the point is about making progress. While the results aren't there and there is contention with the manger about how he implements the standards on his club the process has shown to be very good and even pointing to this club being in the upper half of the league.

Results bring emotion and emotion is not very helpful to discern the true standing of a situation. That is if you care about really understanding things. Some people are just really pist off and that suits them just fine. You can't please everyone.