Pete Sixsmith has already produced a “first time” post for ‘Boro away so I’m using his usual spot to bring you an update on the progress of the clubs our pre-season poll predicted would be the top six. (Over 8,000 votes were cast. If you’re new to the series or wish to catch up you might try some of the links at the bottom of the page).
The clubs were:
|The current top four were not well fancied and they collectively gained just over 10% of the votes cast. As you can see from the graph on the left, Wolves, with 341 votes – 4%, were nowhere near the top of the poll. Derby did better but still only came in at number 9, with 5% of the votes and Bristol and Cardiff both came in around the 1% mark. In contrast, the top six clubs in the poll garnered almost 2/3 of the total votes cast. Our readers really did have firm favourites for promotion and the play-offs.
I suspect that Sunderland crept into the top six only because this is a Sunderland site. Even so I don’t think anyone would have expected Sunderland to be on the bottom. Their question now is, will they get off it? The graph below shows they have been consistently poor and the gap between them and the other favourites has widened:
As for the other favourites, Villa and Leeds have been consistently averaging enough points per game to make the top six, with Leeds even spending some of the earlier season in straight promotion territory. Fulham and Boro have averaged enough to remain on the fringes of the playoffs, despite having had flat spells. Sheffield Wednesday have been off the pace for a while and, unlike Boro and Fulham, don’t look like getting back into contention.
However, Wolves have featured in these reviews for a while (as have Cardiff), are clear of the pack, and look like they have what it takes. After them, only 8 points separate Fulham (10th) from second place Derby. Goal Differences don’t vary much after Derby and Goals For are also close between many of the clubs vying for sixth or better. My reading of the situation is that Villa, especially, might have what it takes to catch Derby and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them there or thereabouts in May. Nor can Leeds be discounted and Middlesbrough, under a new manager with a reputation for defense, might also push into the top six. I’m not so sure about Fulham, although they do appear to be running into form.
All of which begs the question:
Can Derby, Bristol and Cardiff hold on?
What do you think?
If you do wish to revisit earlier posts in the series you’ll find these links useful: