Take pity on Hull, Burnley and Sunderland, all doomed before a ball is kicked.

John McCormick: bored
John McCormick. Impartial, as always

As the days went by our  “who’s doomed” poll slipped down the “Salut”front page until it dropped off the bottom like a relegated team.

By then over 3500 votes had been cast. Most came in flurries in the first couple of days and, although I suspect a strong contingent of Sunderland fans cast votes and tried to move us in the general direction of safety, the positions of the eight chosen clubs didn’t change, and nor did the percentages to any significant extent.

Read moreTake pity on Hull, Burnley and Sunderland, all doomed before a ball is kicked.

Hull, Burnley and Sunderland doomed. Watford, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth, WBA and Palace are safe

This season’s relegation poll went live at about 8.30 on Wednesday morning. By 2.30 some eighteen hundred votes had been cast. Hull received about a third of them and remained clear favourites. Burnley stayed in second place, although the gap had widened, and we had moved up to third.  The other five clubs were well behind:

Read moreHull, Burnley and Sunderland doomed. Watford, Middlesbrough, Bournemouth, WBA and Palace are safe

Glad all over? At least we’re don’t support these Premier clubs

Peter Lynn: a musical and now marital theme for every moment
Peter Lynn: now, who else can I offend?

Peter Lynn, aka Wrinkly Pete, takes a tongue-in-cheek look at some of the Premier clubs he’s relieved not to support. He’ll clearly expect to make no new friends in the relevant places …

Well things were briefly a lot brighter following back to back wins inside a week but, as the weekend’s results at Arsenal, Chelsea and Newcastle showed, it is anyone’s guess how we will feel at the end of December.

With that in mind, I thought I would plan ahead – just in case – and respond to those Sunderland fans, myself included, who, when things are bleak, look enviously at other clubs, ie those who, Villa apart, are above us in the league.

I shall therefore offer a quick guide to why it’s better to be a Mackem than, well, not a Mackem.

In no particular order, here is my parade of supporters I’m glad not to be…

* A Mag: This is an easy one to start despite their win against a shocking Liverpool side. We may have raised a few eyebrows with, for example, some of our managerial appointments but can you even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a passionate Newcastle supporter and see the farcical way in which the club is run? It is a good reminder that having a mega rich owner is not necessarily without its problems.

* Blue: – in this case Chelsea. Another easy one (for me). I could never tolerate the arrogance that Mourinho exudes and would like to think that their present dip is in some way connected with his appalling treatment of their (now former) club doctor Eva Carneiro. Furthermore, how could you live with that irritating “Chelsea, Chelsea” song? Interesting that the original “Amazing Grace” song contains the words “a wretch like me”. That’s how I would feel – wretched.

* Baggie:
This one is a bit harder since, living in the Midlands, I think this club is the pick of the local bunch. However, the atmosphere in the Hawthorns is very subdued unless or until their team score and I personally find the use of the hymn The Lord’s my Shepherd as a club song a bit out of place.

* Toffee: Well, it’s a club that many Sunderland fans feel empathy with and, of course, in recent times they have seemed comfortable, playing wise; but Goodison is pretty grim, even allowing for the nostalgia associated with a “traditional” ground. Furthermore, their current location is land locked, preventing expansion. Compare that to our superb facility.

* Gunner: With us “it’s the hope I can’t stand”. With them “it’s the expectation I can’t stand”. There seems to be a belief that if you have paid £1,200 or more for your season ticket you have a right to success and to be richly entertained. Perhaps that explains the flat atmosphere other than when they score. Then, to cap it all, those “fans” bemoan their lack of success despite their successes being plastered round the stadium.

* Potter: Now I would like to feel charitable as we have just beaten them and they have a pleasing habit of letting us win when we are at our most needful. However, as long as they continue to employ whingeing managers like Hughes and Pulis who attend the very same games as me and yet miss every niggly, dirty foul perpetrated by their players despite having instructed them to do just that, I will simply wish them all the luck they deserve.

* Hammer: I had better be careful what I say here so I will make no reference to their hierarchy. Better to focus on their move away from the East End. Now when we moved our ground, despite all the emotional upheaval, we stayed local. I cannot imagine that the fans will be happy with their relocation, despite it seeming, shall we say, very reasonably priced.

* Villan: Well here we are with another example of huge wealth not necessarily bringing joy. We may question some of our player acquisitions and regret some player losses, especially when one of them goes to Villa, citing a desire to play for a “big” club (where is he now?). How would you feel though if you were a Villa fan and saw the team when O o o o o Neill was there and compared it to now?

So, I, along with every other Sunderland fan, will desperately try to find a solution to help when things are not going well on the pitch but I, for one, do recognise that Sunderland has in place the truly important things such as home, sense of community and a superb fan base (with decent songs).

PS Readers are free to add to my list. We wouldn’t want Manchester Utd/City, Liverpool, Palace, Saints supporters feeling left out …

Who went down, who’s going down? Do dodgy numbers have the answer?

John McCormick:
John McCormick: 1×1 is 1, 1×2 is four, 1×38 is 38 and that’s enough for safety.

At the start of last season I chose three relegation candidates  (QPR, Hull and Aston Villa) and two reserves (Southampton and West Brom) on the basis of PL history and some iffy statistics.

As you might expect, I got some stick from fans who didn’t like my forecast:

Mr QPR said “What a rubbish article, how can a Sunderland fan have any view on relegation when they will be one of the teams themselves”

Germany Tiger said Hull had improved significantly as well as: “You are the only one (and I’ve read a lot) who have Hull in a relegation spot, which suggests to me that there is still a bit of disappointment at being put to the sword 3 times last season by the Tigers and I predict a few more this season also….. oh if we could only play Sunderland every week… deep joy!!”

 Bald ugly bloke  was a bit more restrained, and perhaps a bit more optimistic: “Laughable that you have Hull City in the 3! The Tigers will be pushing top half.”

 Having been around for a few seasons, Swallavc was much more measured: “Aston Villa have been relegated in 0% of premier league seasons and therefore will be safe!”

I could go on, but what I’d prefer to say is that many of the readers, SAFC fans and others, were prepared to give their opinions on relegation candidates, as well as of my words . I’ll come back to this at the end.

Read moreWho went down, who’s going down? Do dodgy numbers have the answer?

Pulis coins the word but we want more ‘Cattermoling’ at Manchester United

Jake: 'here's one where 0-0 would just about do'
Jake: ‘here’s one where 0-0 would just about do’

As Sunderland prepare for what Seb Larsson admits will be a “very tough afternoon” at Old Trafford if players do not rise to the occasion, we must acknowledge Tony Pulis’s contribution to the evolution of the English language.

First we should forget the muscular approach to defending that saw, for example, Jermain Defoe flattened twice in the penalty box even before a corner kick was taken. That is Tony Pulis’s way and he has imported the approach he adopted at Stoke City to his new job at WBA.

Read morePulis coins the word but we want more ‘Cattermoling’ at Manchester United

Dodgy numbers signify relegation scrap for Hull, QPR, Burnley, Leicester (and us?)

John McCormick:
John McCormick:
looking for a rise

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:

Game Leics Hull QPR Burnley Palace SAFC WBA Villa NUFC Soton
1 1.00 3.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 1.00 3.00 0.00 0.00
2 0.50 2.00 0.00 0.00 0.00 1.00 1.00 2.00 0.50 0.50
3 0.67 1.33 1.00 0.33 0.33 0.67 0.67 2.33 0.67 1.33
4 1.25 1.25 0.75 0.50 0.50 0.75 0.50 2.50 0.50 1.75
5 1.60 1.20 0.80 0.60 1.00 0.80 1.00 2.00 0.60 2.00
6 1.33 1.00 0.67 0.50 1.33 0.83 1.33 1.67 0.50 2.17
7 1.29 1.29 0.57 0.57 1.14 1.14 1.14 1.43 0.57 1.86
8 1.13 1.25 0.5 0.5 1.00 1 1.13 1.25 0.88 2
8 1.00 1.22 0.78 0.44 1.00 0.89 1.11 1.11 1.11 2.11
10 0.90 1.10 0.70 0.40 0.90 1.10 1.30 1.00 1.30 2.20
11 0.82 1.00 0.73 0.64 0.82 1.09 1.18 1.00 1.45 2.27
12 0.83 0.92 0.67 0.83 1.00 1.08 1.08 1.00 1.58 2.17
13 0.77 0.85 0.85 0.85 1.00 1.08 1.00 1.00 1.46 2.00
14 0.71 0.86 0.79 0.86 0.93 1.00 0.93 1.14 1.43 1.86
15 0.67 0.87 0.93 0.80 0.93 1.00 0.93 1.27 1.53 1.73
16 0.63 0.81 0.88 0.94 0.94 1.00 1.06 1.19 1.44 1.63

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:

Average points per game, Aug-December 2014
Average points per game, Aug-December 2014

Once more, to simplify, I’ll use trendlines:

Average points per game: trendlines December 2014
Average points per game: trendlines December 2014

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.

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Jake flags the new feature allowing you to have your say on topic or off
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Dodgy numbers raise the question: ‘Can we dodge the bullet?’

John McCormick:
John McCormick:
reading between the lines

Before the season started I used some dodgy stats and history to predict this season’s relegated candidates, including a couple of wildcards. From 20th place upwards they were:

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.

You can read the whole post here: https://safc.blog/2014/08/good-news-for-burnley-and-leicester-our-stats-man-has-qpr-hull-city-and-aston-villa/

Read moreDodgy numbers raise the question: ‘Can we dodge the bullet?’

Sixer’s WBA Soapbox: is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

Sixer says: grim times haven't gone away
Sixer says: grim times haven’t gone away

John McCormick writes: Some time in the sixties I can remember congratulating a group of Baggies in the Fulwell end after WBA had undergone a terrific cup run. Since then we’ve both experienced the highs and lows that come with supporting also-rans. Most recently we’ve been on the up and they’ve been yo-yos. Are circumstances changing once more? Back from The Hawthorns, Pete Sixsmith gives us his opinion:

Read moreSixer’s WBA Soapbox: is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

Sixer’s Sevens: West Bromwich Albion 3 (1) – Sunderland 0 (0): Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

Jake says Pete is the star man
Jake says Pete is the star man

John McCormick writes:

After last week’s second half I was hopeful of at least a point but on a day when four ex-Sunderland players scored none of the current ones did. Texts from Pete during the match painted a depressing picture, and that was before Fletch smashed his shoulder. Pete’s first “seven” was “Pathetic: a counter revolution may be needed” but I think the second he sent crystallises all our fears:

Read moreSixer’s Sevens: West Bromwich Albion 3 (1) – Sunderland 0 (0): Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

West Bromwich Albion v SAFC: beware Dorrans, Brucey

pacific open (274)


Requests from Salut! Sunderland to a couple of Baggie fansites met with a stony silence – shame on you lads! – but one high profile WBA supporter’s response has been good as gold. In the first part – click here – of the BBC tennis commentator David Law‘s* fascinating story of his support for Sunderland’s next opponents, we heard of his success in converting John McEnroe and Goran Ivanisevic to the Albion cause. Now David moves on to Midlands rivalries and West Brom greats …

Salut! Sunderland: how much do you personally enter into or identify with Baggie/Villa or Baggie/Wolves rivalry?

The Villa rivalry was always the big one for me growing up, but then they became too good for us it seemed a bit futile to hate them, which is when Wolves became the big rivalry. Obviously I want us to stuff them every time we play them (and I’d love to finally beat Villa again for the first time in a quarter of a century), but when they are not playing against us I will be supporting Wolves, Blues and Villa because I’m from the area. I’ve lived overseas a lot and I hate it when people assume I’m from London just because I’m British. I’m from the Midlands, and proud of it.

Read moreWest Bromwich Albion v SAFC: beware Dorrans, Brucey