So, amidst news of the approval by Hounslow Council to allow the building of a new community stadium (which I’m sure you can find covered elsewhere) this week also brought Brentford the news that Uwe Rosler has won the manager of the month award, thus cursing his team for the game to come.
But does it?
My initial thinking about it is that the award is given to teams who have been playing well, performing above themselves for a (period that is largely arbitrary – I’m sure other teams win five games in a row on different pages of the calendar but get no reward – Newcastle spring to mind) month and that a natural drop-off occurs after that, and naturally a few games will be lost. That’s how football works, particularly in the lower leagues. Win some lose a couple, try keep your head above 2ppg and all will be well.
So first, let’s check if my theory is correct. Is there a drop-off after the victorious month? Here’s a chart showing, season by season since the award was incepted, the ppg for the games during the victorious month and those for the month after.
That, at least, looks to confirm my theory – and rather spectacularly soon. No month after brings about better form, on average, than the month that begets the award; nine teams so far (out of seventy-five award winners) have shown improvement – more than half of them improving their form over the last month of the season, which is regularly a short one.
So there’s grounds for people to think that Brentford’s form will drop off, though there’s nothing to suggest it will be spectacular. Will it be immediate, though?
This is a difficult one, but I’ve put the hours in researching (via the BBC and the Football League website) the days that the award was announced, and tallied on the successive game to see if the ‘curse’ applies; if teams that have been particularly good, when that fact is noticed, suddenly crumble and fall.
That graph is a surprise to me; admittedly I’ve taken league games for that, so the figure is distorted by November’s award often being given before the first round of the FA Cup (it’s a league award, so I have to use league games) which might balance it a little difference, but there’s a fair chance that the next game will result in something other than a win – it has 50% of the time to date.
Finally, and this is a similar graph to the first one, but with the month previous added in – the award (and not universally, but definitely largely – the award has only been retained seven times) represents a peak form for that time. Oftentimes teams win it twice in a season, but generally there’s a few months between.
Or, in otherwise, the Manager of the Month Award is exactly as you’d expect. They give it to a team in a rich vein of form because of a player being in good form, or a run of ‘easy’ games. More often than not, that team’s form fades away a bit over the next few weeks and their PPG drops a little. The good teams come back and win it again.
That, then, is the test for Brentford. Not winning on Saturday, nor even maintaining that run, but the long haul of the full season. Two good months before Christmas count for nothing in the bigger scheme of things.
They have won the sprint. Now for the marathon.
(All results taken from Statto.com – award winners and dates from sources as listed – Oh, and League One only)