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Rafa Benitez gaining on Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby in ELO ratings

5 years ago

Six months ago I wrote about the ELO ratings of Newcastle Managers (and got all the Jeff Lynne jokes, so let’s not have those again).

This is the system used in Chess to rank players based on every game they have played, awarding more points for good results, especially against better opponents, and reducing the total of a player where they are beaten by someone they would expect to beat. maintain an exhaustive record of these statistics for every football club and every coach in Europe going back decades.

Back in March, Rafa Benitez hadn’t been at the club long enough to judge his impact on these stats. However, after just 16 games, most of which were played in the Premier league, the numbers are showing a clear trend towards improvement, to an extent that leaves all but the most popular previous managers in the shade.

As it stands, Benitez is the first Newcastle Manager since Chris Hughton to improve the expectation at the club that they should win games.

Pardew, Carver and McClaren all left the club with a lower ELO than when they arrived, which reflects the downward spiral that led to relegation.

It follows the earlier pattern in 2008, where Allardyce, Kinnear and Shearer were all unable to halt a decline reflected in their dwindling ELO that Kevin Keegan was on the road to reversing, before being unceremoniously ‘constructively dismissed’.

Whether this is just the honeymoon period remains to be seen but Rafa has all the potential to keep pushing his score up.  He’s already exceeded Hughton who had a full season in the championship to generate a big score, before stalling after promotion.

It’s exciting to have a manager whose performance at Newcastle is second only to Keegan & Robson and some optimism that he could go on to challenge their overall improvements at the club in the long-term.

You can follow the author on Twitter @bigchrisholt



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