21 Aug 2011

Management by Objectives: Is this the key to Liverpool FC's success this season? (GUEST ARTICLE)

Guest writer JayMax outlines what he believes Liverpool FC must do this season to be in with a chance of finishing in the top 4.

This season, it is all about league position. Top four is the key objective, and with close to £120 million spent on players this year, sixth position (like last season) or worse will be unacceptable to fans, owners and management alike. Doesn't leave a lot of room for maneuver, does it?

Over the past 10 years, finishing fourth required a minimum of 60 points (Liverpool 2003-04) and a maximum of 76 points (Liverpool 2007-08), so let's set a minimum points objective of 76 (that's 18 more than last year). As a side benefit, such a total would have claimed runners-up slot last season and often a third-place finish.

In a 38-game season, achieving this objective requires an average of 2 points per game. In other words, each draw must be balanced by a win and losses are a cause of great concern. The most important thing is to maintain an average points level (points total divided by games played) of 2 or more because this means that the objective remains in sight. It doesn't matter where the points are gained (home or away) but, statistically, a team usually secures more points at home than away so home wins are vital and away draws may be good results (if we are playing "top 10" teams).

Week-in, week-out the best team and tactics must be employed to gain three points. Three points at the start or middle of the season are worth exactly the same as three points at the end, so resting players (unless injured or suspended) because of the "long hard season ahead" makes little sense - particularly in the absence of mid-week European football.

Winning silverware is an important secondary objective this season and, in the absence of European football, the FA Cup is a great opportunity to meet this objective and to secure a fallback European place (albeit Europa League) for 2012-13.

Without intending disrespect to the League Cup, one competition is needed for experimentation and keeping fringe players engaged, and this year the League Cup fits the bill. The objective is still to win the silverware and European place on offer but to do so while trying out players and tactics that have the potential to support the higher objectives (league position and FA Cup success) but without the downside if they do not work out.

Kenny Dalglish has a tough job ahead of him but he has received the financial support of the owners and there is no doubting the goodwill and support of the fans. Now it is up to the team and management. All the elements are in place to achieve the season's objectives and I believe that it will happen but it will not come easy.

My personal view is that the title will (unfortunately) be fought out between the two Manchester clubs with Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and, possibly, Spurs fighting all season for the other two Champions League slots.

Being a Liverpool supporter has never been dull and this season will be no exception.


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  1. <span>"In other words, each draw must be balanced by a win and losses are a cause of great concern."</span>

    Thanks for clearing that up, mate ... so defeats are indeed harmful?!

  2. Jay, your a genius.

  3. emily bishops hair6:01 pm, August 21, 2011

    oh but defeats may not be harmful at all.............. you can lose every 3rd game, as long as you win the other two..... :-P ...do the math

  4. I had written something similar previously, about using ppg to avoid extreme short termism and overreacting to single results - I can't remember the details, but think the target was ~2.2ppg (~14 points from batches of 6 games) to ensure that we remain amongst the front runners, with 2ppg as a minimum to ensure we were in a top 4 place.

    Using batches of games just enables perspective to be maintained following a bad result or two, as they can easily be explained away by individual errors. On the other hand, below par returns from a batch of 4-6 games is enough to identify trends however; not only in results but also the underlying reasons for those results.

  5. We're running slightly behind par atm, but have already faced Spurs, Everton, Arsenal & Stoke away from home so we're not doing too badly - a win over Man U would have us back on track for a top 4 place at 2ppg, but we're probably due another post international break let down for that :(

    The 3 games following that would HAVE to bring in 9 points, leaving us with +22 points from 11 games before we face Chelsea and City though.