|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)
Pts Rgt - best relegated team's final points
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