The Fink Tank sounds awful, but actually it’s an interesting idea. You can see the results in the Times, which proclaim: “Daniel Finkelstein has ranked every Premiership player using a mathematical and statistical model to end all the debate”<br />

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Well, I don’t think it ends the debate, but we’ll come to that later.<br />

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The model works by identifying “the relationship between goals scored and every kick of the ball made by every player for every club”. I presume this takes into account defending as well as attacking. But it mention tackles, pressure that indirectly relates to goals, or other parts of football. A more detailed methodology is needed.<br />

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It penalises players for lack of time on the pitch – which is strange, as some players are used deliberately as a “super-sub” or impact player, and their lack of pitch-time is a virtue.<br />

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Here is the methodology:<br />

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The Fink Tank Predictor provides forecasts and ranking systems for English and European club football, based on a statistical model of matches based on more than five years of football scores.<br />

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In looking at player rankings for this season, the phrase �time-adjusted points� means the number of points the player would have added to an average team in the full season, compared with an average replacement. The points are then adjusted to reflect the amount of time spent on the pitch � minimum 400 minutes. <br />

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OK, so what do we get? Christiano Ronaldo is by far and away the best player, with 19.12 points, ahead of Frank Lampard on 16.24. Ronaldo was acclaimed for his performances this season, Lampard was not. Strange, but there you go.<br />

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There are 3 goalkeepers in the top 10. This is strange, as the methodology suggests that the Fink Tank is the relationship between goals and every kick of the ball. Were their long-ball goalkicks often converted into goals? Or do saves count? They certainly haven’t been scoring, or putting in crosses like a winger.<br />

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To see if the Fink Tank points reveal anything strange, I have analysed each team’s points, and averaged it per player – some teams had only 18 players, others had 24, so points per player seems fairest. I then related this points per player average to the Premiership table, to see how it related to final standings, points, goals scored and goal difference. Given that FinkTank points are given for influence in goals, you would expect some correlation with the goals scored column.<br />

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And what did we get? Well, <a href=”http://minto.net/blogs/uploads/finktank.xls” title=”finktank.xls” target=”_blank”>the results are in this spreadsheet</a>. To break it out:<br />

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<table cellpadding=2 border=0><tr> <td style=”border:1px solid;”>Club</td><td style=”border:1px solid;”>position</td><td style=”border:1px solid;”>Points</td><td style=”border:1px solid;”>Goals</td><td style=”border:1px solid;”>Goal diff</td><td style=”border:1px solid;”>total Fink points</td><td style=”border:1px solid;”>Players</td><td style=”border:1px solid;”>points per player</td></tr><tr><td>Manchester United</td><td>1</td><td>89</td><td>83</td><td>56</td><td>99.94</td><td>20</td><td>4.997</td></tr> <tr><td>Arsenal</td><td>4</td><td>68</td><td>63</td><td>28</td><td>98.89</td><td>20</td><td>4.945</td></tr> <tr><td>Chelsea</td><td>2</td><td>83</td><td>64</td><td>40</td><td>82.4</td><td>21</td><td>3.924</td></tr> <tr><td>Liverpool</td><td>3</td><td>68</td><td>57</td><td>30</td><td>50.36</td><td>21</td><td>2.398</td></tr> <tr><td>Tottenham Hotspur</td><td>5</td><td>60</td><td>57</td><td>3</td><td>35.02</td><td>21</td><td>1.668</td></tr> <tr><td>Portsmouth</td><td>9</td><td>54</td><td>45</td><td>3</td><td>3.36</td><td>20</td><td>0.168</td></tr> <tr><td>Blackburn Rovers</td><td>10</td><td>52</td><td>52</td><td>-2</td><td>-0.75</td><td>20</td><td>-0.038</td></tr> <tr><td>Everton</td><td>6</td><td>58</td><td>52</td><td>16</td><td>-5.52</td><td>19</td><td>-0.291</td></tr> <tr><td>Middlesbrough</td><td>12</td><td>46</td><td>44</td><td>-5</td><td>-5.31</td><td>18</td><td>-0.295</td></tr> <tr><td>Newcastle United</td><td>13</td><td>43</td><td>38</td><td>-9</td><td>-12.36</td><td>21</td><td>-0.589</td></tr> <tr><td>Aston Villa</td><td>11</td><td>50</td><td>43</td><td>2</td><td>-16.03</td><td>22</td><td>-0.729</td></tr> <tr><td>Reading</td><td>8</td><td>55</td><td>52</td><td>5</td><td>-24.04</td><td>20</td><td>-1.202</td></tr> <tr><td>Charlton Athletic</td><td>19</td><td>34</td><td>34</td><td>-26</td><td>-27.19</td><td>22</td><td>-1.236</td></tr> <tr><td>West Ham United</td><td>15</td><td>41</td><td>35</td><td>-24</td><td>-29.87</td><td>24</td><td>-1.245</td></tr> <tr><td>Manchester City</td><td>14</td><td>42</td><td>29</td><td>-15</td><td>-32.7</td><td>24</td><td>-1.363</td></tr> <tr><td>Sheffield United</td><td>18</td><td>38</td><td>32</td><td>-23</td><td>-42.58</td><td>22</td><td>-1.935</td></tr> <tr><td>Fulham</td><td>16</td><td>39</td><td>38</td><td>-22</td><td>-41.83</td><td>20</td><td>-2.092</td></tr> <tr><td>Wigan Athletic</td><td>17</td><td>38</td><td>37</td><td>-22</td><td>-61.48</td><td>21</td><td>-2.928</td></tr> <tr><td>Bolton Wanderers</td><td>7</td><td>56</td><td>47</td><td>-5</td><td>-72.26</td><td>18</td><td>-4.014</td></tr> <tr><td>Watford</td><td>20</td><td>28</td><td> 29</td><td>-30</td><td>-95.9</td><td>20</td><td>-4.795</td></tr></table><br />

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Source: Times newspapers, Premier League</em><br />

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What looks weird here? Well, what the hell are Bolton doing near the bottom? Their goals scored is good, goal difference ok, points and position put them at 7th – yet their FinkTank points put them at next to last by some distance.<br />

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Bolton are the biggest anomaly, but there are others. Arsenal have a lot of FinkTank points, but seem to be underperforming in the league. the Fink Tank puts them second to ManU and a long way ahead of Chelsea.<br />

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I don’t want to comment too much on individual players, but it seems very odd that Paul Robinson is ranked 402 – and that Hleb of Arsenal is in the top 10. I have also looked at the top goal scorers and their Fink Tank points, and the correlation is poor – only 0.41.<br />

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Teams however, seem to come out roughly correct. The correlation between FinkTank points per player per club and the 4 rankings in the Premiership table are good:<br />

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Correlation of points scored in Premiership to Finktank points per player per club <strong>0.852</strong><br />

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Correlation of Premiership table position to Finktank points per player per club <strong>-0.785</strong><br />

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Correlation of goal difference to Finktank points per player per club <strong>0.870</strong><br />

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Correlation of goals scored to Finktank points per player per club <strong>0.838</strong><br />

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Correlation of Premiership points to position (for reference) <strong>-0.954</strong><br />

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These are all strong correlations. We should expect to see table position to be a weaker correlation as the gap between teams is not shown in position on a list, and this is true. The Premiership points scored is a better guide. <br />

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Also, goal difference is closer to FinkTank points than goals scored – perhaps the methodology looks at negative play as well as positive.<br />

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Overall, the Fink Tank is a good predictor of how a season pans out. What it can’t do is explain Bolton. Or, more pertinently, it seems to ignore the effectiveness that Bolton have as a team. It also inflates the position of Arsenal. Is this because Arsenal’s build-up play is more intricate than other clubs, and Bolton play more route-one football? If the methodology of the Fink Tank was more open and detailed, perhaps these perceived truths could be proved one way or other once and for all. <br />

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Here are the charts to show the relationships in the table above.<br />

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<div class=”serendipity_imageComment_left” style=”width: 772px”><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_img”><!– s9ymdb:8 –><img width=’772′ height=’571′ src=”http://minto.net/blogs/uploads/Fink_postition.gif” alt=”” /></div><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_txt”>The Premiership clubs ranked by FinkTank points per player for the 2006-7 season</div></div><br />

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<div class=”serendipity_imageComment_left” style=”width: 685px”><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_img”><!– s9ymdb:4 –><img width=’685′ height=’411′ src=”http://minto.net/blogs/uploads/Fink_chart1.gif” alt=”” /></div><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_txt”>This table shows the final standings in the 2006-7 Premiership season for each club and their Fink Tank points per player.</div></div><br />

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<div class=”serendipity_imageComment_left” style=”width: 685px”><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_img”><!– s9ymdb:5 –><img width=’685′ height=’435′ src=”http://minto.net/blogs/uploads/Fink_chart2.gif” alt=”” /></div><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_txt”>This table shows the goals scored by each club in the 2006-7 Premiership season and their Fink Tank points per player.</div></div><br />

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<div class=”serendipity_imageComment_left” style=”width: 685px”><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_img”><!– s9ymdb:6 –><img width=’685′ height=’398′ src=”http://minto.net/blogs/uploads/Fink_chart3.gif” alt=”” /></div><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_txt”>This table shows the final points for each club in the 2006-7 Premiership season and their Fink Tank points per player. </div></div><br />

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<div class=”serendipity_imageComment_left” style=”width: 685px”><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_img”><!– s9ymdb:7 –><img width=’685′ height=’407′ src=”http://minto.net/blogs/uploads/Fink_chart4.gif” alt=”” /></div><div class=”serendipity_imageComment_txt”>This table shows the goal difference for each club in the 2006-7 Premiership season and their Fink Tank points per player. </div></div><br />

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