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It’s Time for Moyes to Practice Some Poker

Filed: Tuesday, 21st November 2017
By: Staff Writer #3

What’s that you say? Surely our new manager has more important things on his mind than a bit of Texas Hold’Em?

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Now that’s a poker face!

Well, yes, he does, in fact, and we’re not for a second suggesting that he organizes a poker night over at Carroll’s house (a newborn baby makes it impossible anyway). But there are some aspects of modern-day poker that our new gaffer would do well to study up on, chief of which is maintaining his cool under pressure.

The Stats Don’t Lie

Since leaving Everton, Moyes has had a terrible time of it. The debacle that was his United tenure, the Spanish fling and then relegation at Sunderland completed a wretched hat-trick of apparent mediocrity, but as much as you might think the opposite, this is not a post about bashing the new boss.

At Old Trafford, Moyes was never going to win the fans over. The whole “chosen one” thing reeked, and we can only imagine how uncomfortable it made him feel to be labeled as “good enough because Fergie says so” rather than because of the great job he did at Everton.

And though his win percentage of 52% at United would have kept him in a job anywhere else, they’re a fickle bunch up there. At Real Sociedad, however, this dropped to 29%, and at Sunderland, it was an abysmal 19%. Let’s hope this trend doesn’t continue.

The fact is that Moyes’ chances at the clubs he has managed since Everton were somewhat scuppered by his reluctance to make decisions based on analytics. Every manager worth his salt these days knows that stats and data are the cornerstones of football tactics and preparation, and the sooner Moyes learns to adapt, the longer he’ll stay in a job and improve that win percentage. It’s just like in poker.

The Poker Example

So, if there are so many examples of data analysis in sports, why did we choose poker? Well, the thing about this card game is that players (or the manager in our case) need to learn about strategy and how to adapt their game to unforeseen circumstances.

But it’s not just about planning their own strategies; it’s also about studying those that your opponents often turn to as well. This is something that was sorely lacking during Moyes’ ill-fated stint in Manchester. That game against Fulham when they pinged in 81 crosses is the most glaring example. Had he done his homework, he would have known that Fulham tended to sit back and pack the box when they take the lead. Crosses were never going to work.

A bit of time in the casino and old Moyesie might learn to adapt to his gameplay when the pressure is on. And if it’s his own cash on the table, he might be more willing to take a risk.

He’d also learn a little about keeping calm under pressure or what you might call putting on his game face. At Sunderland, he was talking about relegation as a possibility after only two or three games in charge. Those are not the words of a man that works well under pressure.

Time for a Change

At Everton, Moyes had it good. He spent so long in the job that he had no need whatsoever to understand the analytics involved in his players’ performances. He knew the lads since they were kids and had some incredible talent come through during his time there. Some might even say that the lower expectations of the job meant that his 42%-win percentage was pretty much all that was expected of him.

At West Ham, though, things are different. Now we’re under no illusions that we’re a bigger team than Everton (we are though), but our expectations are considerably higher. To put it bluntly, we don’t want to be the team with the biggest stadium in the championship, and we certainly don’t want a manager talking about relegation this early in the season. We’ll support you until the end, David, but you have been warned: do NOT mention the drop. So, come on boss, get your poker face sorted and give the fans and the players that bit of confidence they’re sorely lacking.

Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, nor should be attributed to, KUMB.com.

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