This is my third post in this series, which began in August when I used some dodgy stats and history to identify this season’s relegation candidates, plus a couple of wildcards for good measure (the list in the headline is not exhaustive – Ed). You might remember (or you can revisit https://safc.blog/2014/08/good-news-for-burnley-and-leicester-our-stats-man-has-qpr-hull-city-and-aston-villa/)
I predicted, from 20th place upwards:
QPR – Purely because a promoted team is almost certain to go down and most often it has been the playoff winner. I had to go with this, whatever the bookies said about Burnley.
Hull, on the basis that second season syndrome’s due and as two London teams have never been relegated in the same season QPR’s demise must mean Palace are safe.
Villa, on the grounds of their being the only club to have been in the bottom three for each of the last three seasons without being relegated. That’s scary stuff for a fan.
Southampton were the first wildcard, chosen because of the personnel changes and turbulence the club has experienced this year.
West Brom, because of last season’s iffy form and the way they appointed their manager, were the second.
Since the turn of the century only four clubs have been relegated with 38 points or more. This allowed me to say any club which managed a point per game would be alright and to use a rolling average of points per game to make projections. A club with an average rising above 1 would be improving but one whose points per game were dropping would cause concern among its fans.
After 8 games QPR were bottom but they were the only team I’d picked who were doing worse than one point per game. We were bang on one point per game and West Brom weren’t much better. Hull and Villa were doing fine, while Southampton were coasting in second place with 16 points and an impressive win record. Burnley and Newcastle, meanwhile, had slipped into the bottom three, with Crystal Palace and Leicester not far above them. (You can read that update at https://safc.blog/2014/10/the-gloomy-stats-that-doom-qpr-burnley-and-newcastle-or-us/.)
However, when it came to trends it wasn’t as clear cut. Hull and Villa were heading downwards after decent starts. SAFC and WBA were treading water. QPR were trending upwards but from a low base while Southampton’s trajectory had them looking at the stars. The other teams were more of a mixed bunch, enough for me to say that while the stats required Newcastle’s presence in my chart my intuition said they wouldn’t stay there.
Now with 16 games gone it’s time to revisit. So, to start, here are the rolling points-per-game averages for my original 5 clubs plus us and the other four:
QPR and Burnley have never managed to go above the one point per game level, although QPR did touch it after game three. Leicester and Hull have declined from above 1 point per game to significantly less and have stayed there. NUFC have done the opposite, spending the first 8 games below this level and the next 8 above it. Palace have cycled above and below it, as have WBA. Villa have declined but have never gone below an average of 1 point per game. Southampton have declined but still have an enviable record to date. We have been below the 1 point per game as much as we have been above it.
This can be represented graphically:
Once more, to simplify, I’ll use trendlines:
Trendlines aren’t always the best thing to use ( Villa’s line, for example, doesn’t reflect their current situation) but they do show the different groups. Southampton and NUC are heading upwards and surely safe. WBA and SAFC are just about keeping their heads above water. QPR and Burnley are heading upwards but still have some way to go and Leicester and Hull are looking into the abyss.
I’m not sure about Villa, they might have turned a corner, but I think my original choice of Hull, QPR and WBA have been justified. On the other hand, I didn’t see Leicester coming. If Burnley have replaced Southampton then Leicester surely have replaced Villa, while Palace, not safe by any means, appear to be doing enough to keep alive my predictions about second season syndrome and only one London club going down.
So as we move into Christmas it’s three of my original five, plus Burnley, Leicester and Palace that I’ll be watching. My next report will be in February, after game 24. The transfer window will be closed, no doubt some managers will have changed. Let’s see what the new year brings
In the 1950s my grandma used to tell us kids about our uncle Jack in Canada. Then it became our uncle Jack in Australia. This weekend Jack’s son Danny visited, with his wife Jackie and children Niamh (age 7) and Declan (age 9). Declan proudly told me he’s a Sunderland supporter. So it’s Happy Christmas to my uncle Jack, 60 years and ten thousand miles away from Sacriston but holding fast to his roots, to my cousins Danny, Ali and Anne, their husbands and wives, and all their children.
Fancy leaving a comment? Not sure what you have to say fits this post? Go to the made-for-purpose feature – https://safc.blog/2013/07/salut-sunderland-the-way-it-is/ – and say it there