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The Question We're All Asking: Is Relegation a Serious Possibility?
Written by Superfrans on Friday, 3rd Feb 2017 15:33

With a pretty horrible run of five matches coming up, I know I’m not the only fan to have serious concerns about the possibility of relegation.

So, I decided to crunch some of the numbers from the past decade to see if history can give us any clues – with three months of the season to go, how much trouble are we in, exactly?

The initial prognosis is rather uplifting – relegation would require a pretty desperate run of form, right the way through to the end of the season. Without wishing to gloss over the big challenge ahead of us, we are highly unlikely to go down.

This is based on asking a few simple questions… Where are we with 17 matches to go? What do we need to avoid relegation, based on past history? And what are our chances of achieving the necessary points?

Well, we currently have 35 points from 29 games. History (or the past 10 years, in any case) tells us that we probably need about 48 in total to avoid relegation. This means we need about 13 points or so from our last 17 games to 'probably' be safe.

Just to explain this 48-point target – in the past 10 years, on only two occasions has a team scored more than 47 points and been relegated. And – on those occasions - the team third bottom has had 28 and 30 points (in 2015 and 2008 respectively) after 29 games.

This year, Rotherham have 16 points after 29 games (easily the lowest at this stage of the season in that 10 years), Blackburn have 25 points after 28 games (so can get max 28 points after 29 games). While Wigan have 25 points after 27 games (so could exceed 30 points by 29 games), Burton are on 28 points in 29 games. So, the bottom three after 29 games will have 28 points, at very best.

So, can we reach that 48 points? The answer is – we should absolutely hope so. For us to end up with anything less than 48 points would require an utterly cataclysmic run through to the end of the season.

Yes, of course, we have undoubtedly been poor this season. Our current 35-point tally from 29 games is only better than three miserable seasons in the past decade - in the season Mick McCarthy took over from Paul Jewell (2012/13, with 32 points after 29 games), Roy Keane’s only full season (2009/10, 33 points) and Jewell’s only full season (2011/12, 34 points).

But reaching 48 points means getting just 13 points in our next 17 games. To do worse than that would be easily the worst end to the season in the past decade.

Our lowest 17-game end-of-season points tally in that period was the 21 we secured last season – but that’s 50 per cent more points than we need to gather this. Over the past 10 years, our average in the last 17 games is 25 points – the span has been 21 points to 28 points at the top end. We probably need just 13 points, remember.

It is worth considering that even replicating our worst end to a season for 10 years would leave us with 56 points - and nobody has been relegated on such a total in the last decade. In fact, it is more likely to leave us anywhere from 14th to 17th.

The worrying season is the one when McCarthy joined, in 2012/13. This was an outlier season, in which a relatively high number of points (54 points) got poor old Peterborough relegated. There was little hint of this three months out though, aside from the fact that all three relegation places after 29 games were held by teams on relatively high totals of 28, 28 and 27 points.

Of course, football has shown on many occasions that it can surprise us all. Never say never. Complacency would be our worst enemy over the coming weeks.

But let’s just hope that this season ends in an utterly unremarkable fashion – perhaps as dull and uneventful as some of the football we’ve seen at Portman Road this season.

The last 10 years (2006/07 to 2016/17)

YearPts RgtPts 29ITFC 29Final PtsFinal PosMgrPts 17
2017??28*/28*/1635MM
20164025/24/2148697thMM21
20154127/22/2051786thMM27
20144427/23/2143689thMM25
20135428/28/27326014thMM28
 
20124025/24/22346115thPJ27
20114227/27/21386213thPJ24
 
20104732/27/21335615thRK23
20094630/27/2242669thRK24
 
20085230/27/2742698thJM27
20074229/24/27386214thJM24


Key:

Pts Rgt - best relegated team's final points
Pts 29 - bottom three's pts after 29 games (*Denotes the best points that can be achieved)
ITFC 29 - ITFC pts after 29 games
Final Pts - Town's final points
Final Pos - Town's final position
Mgr - Manager at season's end
Pts 17 - Points achieved by Town in previous years in the final 17 matches





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DurhamTownFan added 19:14 - Feb 3
Wow, lots of detailed analysis here! Good to know that we should go down based on previous history, but it's pretty appalling that we're even discussing such a topic! Just shows where we are this year really
0

stonojnr added 19:40 - Feb 3
I think you need to measure 4th from bottom because its that team you have to outscore to get out of the bottom 3, and the average going back to 1992, so nearly quarter of a century has been 49.375 points, ie 50 points, which is the target every manager who gets promoted to the Championship quotes to avoid relegation.

thats 5 wins to guarantee staying up, notjust hope the teams below us lose more games, Town have taken 29 games to win 9 games so far, so we might need at least 15 games to win another 5 based on season form, there are only 16 games left.

it will be uncomfortably close and we'd better hope we dont go into total meltdown as a club, be in no doubt relegation is a serious possibility this season
1

Superfrans added 20:23 - Feb 3
Stonojnr - sorry, I totally disagree. What you're suggesting makes no sense whatsoever.

If the team 3rd bottom has 45 points and the team 4th bottom has 50 points, the team you need to beat is the one 3rd bottom - so you need to exceed 45 points. In other words, you need 46 points, not 50.
1

pragmatic added 20:39 - Feb 3
Msg for real supporters lets get behind team to ensure 50 +. Points asap as we are all pissed off with this seasons & then sort out "issues"
0

Superblue95 added 03:21 - Feb 4
I can't see us getting relegated as I think Rotherham, Wigan, Burton and Blackburn are worse than us and Bristol City and Forest seem in meltdown at the moment so I think we will comfortably finish above 3 of them. However given our current form, injuries and the uncertainty surrounding McCarthy and a few of the players, we are certainly heading for our lowest league finish in over 50 years
0

Swansea_Blue added 10:46 - Feb 7
Good detail and insight Superfrans, thanks.

So in short, don't panic!
1

Marcus added 18:14 - Feb 10
We aren't in freefall. We're scrapping for points sometimes, other times we're playing well and dropping points. Freefall is the Voldemort/Jewell era, we're much better than that. While we aren't playing football that's nice to watch most of the time, we're scraping enough points to not be looking too hard downwards, nor look too hard upwards, it's a season we're looking very mid-table.
1

supasmiler71 added 17:04 - Feb 11
A point v Reading, a win at Villa, performances much improved.......should we be looking up the table not down?..
2
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