Andrew Pink, from the Square in the Air sports marketing firm, was trying to make me feel better.
He’d sent something about Betway cutting the odds on West Ham finishing in the top six from 18/1 to 14/1 after the appointment of Slaven Bilic as team boss. So where, I wondered, did Dick Advocaat’s return leave us? I told him I’d almost bet on them having us down for the drop anyway, on the basis that betting analysts would reckon we cannot keep getting away with it.
“It’s not all bad news,” came Andrew’s response once he’d lowered his eyes to the prognosis for that far down the table. “Sunderland are 4th favourites to go down….”
You might remember the theme of this series of posts was to track the progress of selected teams towards 38 points, which required them to average 1 point per game throughout the season. The teams I chose as relegation candidates at the start of the season, on the basis of some history and rather flimsy statistics, were Hull, QPR, and Villa, with WBA and Southampton as wildcards. SAFC were mentioned, of course, not quite in passing and from my eternally optimistic SAFC supporter’s viewpoint.
With around six games left it’s time to see how these teams are doing.
I have to say I was wrong, so wrong, about Southampton, who were safe by Christmas. Nor did I foresee that Leicester would reach mid-point in bottom place. Could they become the third team to make the great escape? And was it sentiment that made me ignore what the bookies were saying? They appear to have been right about Burnley while I was wrong, at least as the Premier League currently stands.
West Brom should be safe, thanks to the appointment of never-relegated Tony Pulis, as should be Crystal Palace and NUFC, who both drifted onto the relegation scene. Alan Pardew made a miserable start to the season with the Mags but staged a good-enough-for-safety recovery and then left for Palace, who staged a recovery of their own. Three new managers, three safe teams, unless John Carver does something imbecilic.
All of this is reflected in the first of the charts below; WBA and Southampton are the only clubs from my selection to sit above the one point per game line, as do Palace and NUFC, and they have all been above it for a while.
Rolling average points per game since the start of the season:
What of the remaining clubs? Will the other three new managers do better than the three who stayed?
The graph above is a little too crowded to form any opinion so in the next graph I’ve removed those four safe teams and the first few games (which is why the bottom scale is below thirty). This allows me to focus on the bottom six and I’ve changed a couple of colours and solidified and smoothed the curves to make it easier to see how they’ve been doing.
What do you make of it?
A discerning eye might note that Burnley have risen from a low base and have reached the giddy heights of QPR. The same eye might also see a long slow decline on the parts of Villa and Leicester, a decline that halted shortly after the appointment of a new manager for the former and with the rekindling of fighting spirit in the latter.
A discerning brain might think “So what?It’s only that toerag McCormick and his dodgy numbers.
But wherever you look, whatever you use, there’s not a lot to say any of the new managers have what it takes, or that any of the unchanged ones have found a magic formula.
When I look at the second chart the word that comes into my mind is “erratic”, a description which fits all six bottom teams. Recent reports on this website have generated comments about the form and fight of our competitors in the relegation mini-league. Their failure to roll over and die is a worry, especially as that’s become our forte but it hasn’t always been translated into points and this lack of consistency might just give us hope.
I’m posting this before the weekend’s games. Let’s see what happens and maybe I’ll update the graph and my comments after Sunday. Maybe I won’t. After all, who can trust dodgy numbers?
Meanwhile, keep keeping the faith.
It’s Monday morning now and I’ve just been listening to a Liverpool fan letting some (unsympathetic) Evertonians know that Ballotelli’s disallowed goal was not not offside. “So what”, I’m thinking. “Villa thoroughly deserved their win”. It looks like I have to review my statement about none of the new managers having what it takes. With Leicester winning their third game in a row I also have to review my statement about the managers who have stayed and magic formulae.
It looks like it could become a five, or even four, horse race and we’re one of the four.
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