John McCormick writes: It’s another international break, so another chance to take stock and update my “relegation watch” series. For some of the clubs at or near the bottom, it’s getting scary.
(If you’re new to the series and want to see how it began, or if you want to refresh your memory , you can try this link)
By now regular readers should be familiar with the first graph. It dates from the close of the transfer window and shows our readers’ choices for the relegation spots. I’m putting it in (again) so you can see how closely it resembles reality or, alternatively, so you can work out just what the clubs have to do to prove our readers right by the end of the season.
In the case of Leicester the answer is “not much”. Readers didn’t rate them a relegation prospect and they’re now so far out of sight that they don’t appear on any of my charts. Another 3 wins and they’ll have reached the magic 10; I can see it happening before Christmas.
It’s the opposite with Villa. They weren’t deemed to be particularly at risk but they’re currently propping up the table. Newcastle were also judged to be at no risk; they garnered about as many votes as Villa. However they too don’t look too healthy, even with a win against Bournemouth giving them a lift. Speaking of Bournemouth, they were one of the teams fancied for relegation. After a decent enough start they’ve been hit by injuries and teams are beginning to work them out. The result is they’re on a slide and, with the season likely to get worse, it’s hard to see them reversing it.
Other fancied teams for the drop were Watford, up and down a bit but currently safe, Norwich, allegedly playing well but losing too often, and SAFC.
We’ve had our now traditional start, i.e. no wins in August or September, then we beat the Mags, then we lose again, and I can see us having our now traditional Christmas, i.e. spending it at the bottom and looking forward to a trip to Man City. Our poll made us favourites to go down and we’re doing everything we can to live up to our readers’ expectations. Not every club would treat the readers of its fans’ blogs with such consideration and, especially, take such care to ensure they lose in so many different ways. Goalkeeper cock-ups, disallowed goals, shipping four goals after fighting back to 2-2 away, having your best player give away the softest of penalties. No wonder 41,000 turn up week in week out when they’re treated so well.
So how has all of this winning (Leicester) and losing (us) translated into figures? How are all these clubs doing against my chosen measure of success, win-loss ratios? (Again, if you’re new to the series you can find out more by following this link) There can only be three clubs currently occupying the relegation spots at any given time but any number can have a win-loss ratio below my safety limit, which is 0.48, or even below 0.45, which signifies impending doom, and four do. You’ll notice that not only are Villa, Sunderland and Bournemouth in the death zone but so too are NUFC.
Norwich are just on the safe side of the line. The question I’m pondering – and this could be from desperation as much as idle curiosity – is “are they going to stay there?” Norwich were on a long slide, halted only when they won this weekend.
You can see this on the next graph, which shows win-loss ratios from game 6 onwards. Norwich were doing OK but then hit a losing streak and went into the death zone temporarily. They’re back out of it now but you might wonder for how long.
And look at Bournemouth. I’ve previously mentioned that very long, slow decline. Is it going to continue? I think it just might, for the reasons I gave earlier.
That leaves us, Villa and the Mags. All have been there before. All have survived previous encounters with the bottom. Of the three, Villa have never been relegated from the premiership, we’ve pulled off the greatest escape and Newcastle have left it the longest to get out of trouble (and failed once).
What’s going to happen between now and May? Surely we can’t all stay up, surely a newly promoted club will down.
Which means, You can pick any three from five.
Scary, isn’t it?