There should have been an update to this series (see the archive links below for the earlier posts) at the start of the season but I travelled up early for the Charlton game, spending the Friday in Leeds before driving on to the North-East, then when I got back home I did a match report to complement Pete Sixsmith’s and didn’t have time for anything else.
This was followed by five games in two weeks, with no space to fit anything in, and here we are.
This means my last post in the series was the one that explained the role of Coventry City‘s fans in propelling their club up and Sunderland down in our poll and asked who should be the sixth team to join Coventry, Sunderland, Charlton, Barnsley and Portsmouth in our deliberations. Peterborough was the very clear preference from the four choices offered; they got more votes than the other three clubs (Southend, Plymouth and Luton) combined.
Those six will be the ones we start with, and I can’t imagine it changing before Christmas.
If you want to see how I’ve followed our selected teams in previous seasons you can follow this link; however, as promised, this season will be different. Instead of looking at the overall aggregation of points against an average (2017-18) or towards a specific number of points to meet a target (2016-17) I’m going to use one of the six clubs as a baseline and compare the other five clubs to them.
Here’s how the six clubs are faring in the League:
You can see that four of our chosen six, Peterborough, Sunderland, Barnsley and Portsmouth are at the top of the chart. That’s because they are four of the league’s five unbeaten clubs. The fifth, Walsall, occupies 4th spot in the table, while Fleetwood, who lost their opening game (at home to AFC Wimbledon) are in 6th position. Neither are on the chart (yet), as I explain below.
Our own fifth club, Charlton, are in a lowly position, with off-field issues no doubt playing a part. However, they have played three of the top six clubs. They lost to the top two, i.e. Peterborough and Sunderland (and we didn’t find it easy), and drew at home to Fleetwood this week. It’s possible they will pick up.
As might Coventry City. Coventry have played Fleetwood and also Gillingham, who were in or around the top six at one stage, and some of their other games have also been against tough opposition. However, their only win to date has been against bottom club Plymouth, so it could be argued their form needs to improve. If it doesn’t I might have a problem later on in this series.
Coventry topped our poll by a large margin, so it is their line on the chart which will remain horizontal and on the zero mark; the other clubs will move up or down in relation to them. Any club doing worse than Coventry will eventually fall below their line, any doing better will rise (or remain) above it. At the time of writing only Charlton look like they could have a negative points difference but it’s a long season and I’m not rushing down to the bookies.
Here’s how the other five clubs are doing in relation to Coventry:
Towards the end of the season I’d expect some points gaps to be greater than the available points remaining, meaning not only that some clubs (including Coventry) can’t catch others, but also that some clubs can’t make automatic promotion or the playoffs. However, there should be ups and downs until near enough the final games. Note the word expect. How well my plan will work remains to be seen and I might have to remove or add clubs or even change the baseline if Coventry become too detached from the rest.
For example, let’s consider Walsall and Fleetwood. Neither gained many votes in our poll, before or after Coventry’s fans piled in, and aren’t on the chart. Indeed, with both peaking at 3%, they never were considered for a place on it. But if they remain in the top six until, say, Christmas should space be found for them, and, if so, at whose expense? Time will tell whether they or anyone else should be included but it won’t be the first time such things have happened.
That, of course, is many games hence. Between then and now I’ll rerun the numbers a couple of times so we can see who’s doing what in the battle to join the Championship. I hope you’ll join us.
Other posts in this series:
and there’s also