Statistic: layoffs are nonsense – football

Coach expulsions are now as much a part of football as red cards and championship titles. Also towards the end of last season, more and more coaches were laid off. Statistician Andreas Hoyer conducted research on the meaning and nonsense of expulsion of coaches. Interview by Kristen Eichhorn.

Professor Andreas Hoyer, a statistician at the University of Münster, has studied the impact of coach dismissals over the course of last season. SWR sports reporter Kersten Eichhorn asked him about his findings.

SWR: What conclusion did you reach? Is it reasonable to fire the coaches?

Andrew Hoyer: illogical. The effect is purely ineffective. It’s like you think “Oh, the team is playing a little better”. Is she? But this is only for statistical reasons. Usually, teams from the bottom of the table fire their coaches. They’ve usually had a lot of bad luck. Let’s take Fuerth. They only had five points in the first half and now they have a lot in the second half. However, this effect should be understood purely statistically and has nothing to do with the fact that a change of coach would have done anything. Really has zero effect.

SWR: So in Stuttgart they will say, according to their stats, VfB did everything right by staying with Matarazzo in the relegation battle. People in Berlin will say, would they have gone down without the Savior Felix Magath? Who is he now?

this year: Well, to be honest, Felix Magath was very lucky. Football is a very big coincidence. This can be analyzed statistically. Which is why you’ll always have odd cases where you can say “It was so cool that it happened”. But you never know what would have happened if… Heidenheim is a great example. A team that plays great every year, lives up to the concept of continuity, and fascinates me over and over again. That this is still possible in professional football. There may certainly be individual cases where the relationship breaks completely, or where the change must occur for other reasons, but these are aspects that cannot be recorded statistically.

SWR: Is changing the coach some kind of dice game? Good luck or bad luck?

this year: not necessarily. I tended to associate good and bad luck with singles games. Where the top of the table could lose to the bottom of the table, even though the team actually fared much better. In fact, one would think that there are happy and less happy changes in training. We checked this and found the effect to be relatively symmetric. This surprised us a little. But perhaps this also has something to do with the fact that the coaches, who are ultimately in the Bundesliga teams, are well educated and of high quality, and this is also reflected there. It may also have to be said that these really excellent coaches do not play the role of firefighters, they start somewhere at the end of the season and then they can improve the team in the long run.


Sebastian Hoeness’ time at TSG Hoffenheim ended prematurely. The club separated from its coach on Tuesday. SWR football reporter Kristen Eichhorn has a clear say on the matter.

SWR: What will you do? You’re the club president, and you’re at the bottom of the table with ten games left: change or not?

this year: You might then forget about science and ask yourself, “How can I show that I’m a real human being?” Then maybe in a weak hour I might come up with the idea. Perhaps due to media pressure. Since I am not standing in front of this situation, but speaking as a scientist, this is fortunately a purely hypothetical thing. But these final decisions, I think, always have a lot to do with emotions.

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