If it’s not Villa, Fulham or Southampton, or Newcastle or Sunderland, then it must be Wigan

John McCormick: you know he makes nonsense
John McCormick: you know he makes non-sense

This is the final piece of a series I started around Christmas. It wasn’t intended as a series, it just turned out that way. Idle speculation about the importance of goal difference in the relegation dogfight led to the first post, in which I wrote “I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the five (from SAFC, the Mags, Villa, Wigan, Southampton and Fulham) whose goal differences show the greatest improvement in the second half of the season will avoid relegation, irrespective of their points on Boxing Day, and a consistent decline will point to the doomed team”.

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Will it be Wigan or Villa (or Stoke or Newcastle) to go down with Reading and QPR?

John McCormick: better predictions than MOTD
John McCormick: better predictions than MOTD?

The headline, untouched by M Salut’s hand, is noteworthy for the absence of Sunderland from the list of contenders for the last of the bottom three slots. We must all (save for visiting supporters of the other affected clubs) take comfort from John McCormick‘s scholarly ways, sincerely hope he knows what he’s doing and be assured he is not tempting fate … it is the latest of his studies of how fluctuating goal differences may affect the outcome of the pressing Premier issue that remains to be resolved following Man Utd’s confirmation of the title

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McCormick’s Craic: down among the dead men, a lifeline for Aston Villa

John McCormick: reviewing the trends
John McCormick: reviewing the trends

So who is going down? For virtually the first time this season neutrals are mentioning Sunderland as serious contenders. Given our awful run, and the tough bunch of games to come, that is hardly surprising. John McCormick has been studying trends again and comes up with potentially good news for Aston Villa, though he still sees QPR and Reading going. At whose expense would Villa survive? Ours? Not according to whatever can be gleaned from the stats John has been reviewing. Read on but expect to be blinded by this branch of science …

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Sunderland, Newcastle safe (ish). And the losers are … QPR, Aston Villa plus Reading or Wigan

John McCormick's examines his source material
John McCormick examines his source material

It may not seem a good time to be predicting relegation for Reading (just after they’ve beaten us), QPR (buoyed by big new signings with an escapologist in charge) and Aston Villa (didn’t we somehow contrive to make even them seem half-decent?). But John McCormick has been pottering around with his blinding statistictal science again, attempting to calculate the impact fluctuating goal differences can have on survival prospects. As things stand, he sees safety for Sunderland but not by a comfortable margin and a possible lifeline for Reading, at Wigan’s expense …

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