9 March 2013 - Bristol City 2 Middlesbrough 0
Something a bit different this week. I was going to write a standard blog, but like many City fans at present, my mind is filled with permutations, with considerations of other teams’ results and with the vexed question of when we can stop running to stand still and start running to move somewhere. Also, I’ve just watched the finale of Dexter series 4 and frankly haven’t much of my mind left for creativity just now.
Everyone watch Dexter. It’s bloody amazing.
Anyway. This week, a bit of maths to give me a sense – just a sense – of how the final Championship table might look. And a few specious conclusions drawn from it.
Basically, I wondered how far our current form might take us. It’s vaguely encouraging – we’re closing the points gap between ourselves and the thin dotted line above us slowly but steadily – but my concern is that time will run out before we can turn it from the present -2 points to 2 or 3 points, and safety. All the teams around us are giving a solid impression of being on equivalent form. The teams above, Wolves aside, seem to just about resist being dragged in. And we keep jogging on shale, unable to make a purchase.
So what I’ve done, purely as an experiment, is see where the teams from 11th down – ie those 9 points and below ahead of us, who one might reasonably consider to be in some danger of relegation – can expect to finish if they perform as well over their remaining 9 (say) games as they did over the 9 before. I’ve taken the current points total, added to it the points gained over the last x amount of games (where x is the number of games remaining for that team) and worked out how a league table on that basis might look.
So we have:
BURNLEY Points 48 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 6 Total 54
CHARLTON Points 47 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 8 Total 55
BLACKPOOL Points 46 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 12 Total 58
BIRMINGHAM Points 46 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 15 Total 61
DERBY Points 45 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 7 Total 52
BLACKBURN Points 45 Games remaining 10 Pts from last 10 9 Total 54
MILLWALL Points 44 Games remaining 11 Pts from last 11 7 Total 51
HUDDERSFIELD Points 44 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 11 Total 55
SHEFF WED Points 43 Games remaining 10 Pts from last 10 18 Total 61
IPSWICH Points 43 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 11 Total 54
BARNSLEY Points 41 Games remaining 10 Pts from last 10 20 Total 61
PETERBORO’ Points 39 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 13 Total 52
WOLVES Points 39 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 6 Total 45
BRISTOL CITY Points 39 Games remaining 9 Pts from last 9 14 Total 53
11= Birmingham 61 points
11= Sheffield Wednesday 61 points
11= Barnsley 61 points
14. Blackpool 58 points
15= Charlton Athletic 55 points
15= Huddersfield Town 55 points
17= Burnley 54 points
17= Blackburn Rovers 54 points
17= Ipswich Town 54 points
20. Bristol City 53 points
21= Derby County 52 points
21= Peterborough United 52 points
23. Millwall 51 points
24. Wolverhampton W 45 points
So. What have we learnt?
A few things, I reckon. Bear in mind that this isn’t science, despite using counting and adding. I’m not saying that these are the final places. Form will change – Kenny Jackett’s a good manager who may well use Millwall’s Wembley boost to improve their form, whereas conversely Blackpool might not get that many points as the Bloomfield Road surface deteriorates. There's not a "joint 21st", but frankly I thought that including goal difference would be a shade tenuous even for me. And I’ve not run this through the BBC Predictor to check whether it’s possible. But chances are, the final table will look a little like this.
If it is, it would mean that the record high number of points for survival may well need to be equalled, but it won’t be an absurdly large figure that teams are aiming for. That’s good news for City – our last nine games contained 5 home and 4 away, with those figures being reversed for the run-in, so 53 points (pretty narrow anyway) might be pushing it a little. It would be nice to think we’re not aiming for 56 or 57.
It’s quite possible that anyone from Blackpool, at 14th, down could be within 3 points of the drop on the final day. Since that includes Burnley, currently 11th in the real world, and given that my top 3 may well not in fact hit the heights of their recent form between now and May, I think that it’s “case proven” in terms of including all those teams in the relegation fight. And I hadn’t realised how awful the run some of them are on is – Derby will want to pull this round pretty quicky, for instance. Their young players were excellent at Ashton Gate earlier in the season. But as Aston Villa are finding, a relegation battle (and Derby might soon be in one) is a tough place for an inexperienced squad.
Maybe Derby will be fine. But if they do win some games, who will the wins come against? Ipswich? Blackburn? Barnsley? Peterborough? Us? It’s becoming the sort of scramble where it will only be possible to escape by pushing somebody else back down. That’s not bad news for us, already down at the bottom.
But I’m clutching at straws a little. Even our fine form, extrapolated until May, only saw us survive by a point in this experiment. One rogue result could change that. A significantly worse run would surely relegate us. And given the closeness of the race, we’re unlikely to have pressure-free opposition late on. Hull will presumably be going for a top-two spot when we play them a fortnight from the end of the season. It’s hard to see Huddersfield already being more than six points clear when we meet a week later. And the Valley will be a tough place to go on final day if Powell’s Addicks still need something from the game.
It’s not science. That won’t be the final table. It mightn’t be a million miles away though. It’s going to be tough. For everything O’Driscoll’s done, it might be unsuccessful. But blimey, look at City above the line there. That’s something to cling on to. We’re bottom of the table. It might very well get worse at the weekend. But surely the likelihood that this one will go all the way is something positive to take at this stage.