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Phoenix From the Flames
Written by SaleAway on Friday, 17th Nov 2017 15:37

The Opta stat that Town had won more points than any other EFL team from losing positions surprised me somewhat as the view on the TWTD Forum and amongst fans I've spoken to is that when we go behind we lose control a bit and tend towards hoofball.

My doubts about how valuable this statistic was led me to think about whether it was just that we went behind a lot (10 times out of our 15 games this season) or whether in fact we were phoenix-like in our ability to recover.

So, to assess this I analysed the entire Championship, calculating percentage of points won from those available having gone behind. Obviously, a team at the top will be losing fewer games but is that because they never go behind or because they are strong enough to come back? This blog highlights some (vaguely) interesting findings.

We are top of the league!
Remeasuring as a percentage of points won, ITFC win 30% of available points after going behind, which puts them at the top of the league, followed closely by Middlesbrough, Cardiff and Bristol City (29, 28 and 27% respectively).

It's perhaps not a surprise to see a Mick McCarthy and a Neil Warnock team up there. Both these managers are famous for producing hard-working, never-say-die teams that are hard to beat. These stats would tend to bear out those reputations.

Big clubs that underachieve
There are a few teams kicking around the Championship that you would think would do better. Leeds, perennial underachievers in the Championship, zero points won from a possible 21 puts them at the foot of the table. Derby 1/15, Hull 2/30, Aston Villa 1/15.

What else do these teams have in common? Is it mental weakness or is it perhaps that they have a fanbase that are conditioned to expect success and turn on the team quickly if they go behind? On that note, is it significant that ITFC's three wins from behind have all come away from home? Does that more unconditional away support help lift the team more than some of the negativity at Portman Road?

But what about the Scum?
Can't go in with the big clubs, obviously, but they probably have a similar issue. Perhaps their fans expect more success after their jaunt in the Premier League, but two draws from eight matches in which they have been behind is not showing the heart for the fight and leaves them in the bottom third of the table.

Can this tell us anything?
In short, probably not - the quality will usually shine through over the season in the final league table, but perhaps, there is something about these stats - and when it comes to the big games, does that ability to dig a bit deeper push people through? Will it affect the play-offs, or who gets out of the relegation dogfight.

There are a few outliers here. Teams that are low on my table but high in the league or vice versa. From the top of the table, it's probably not helpful because the sample size of losing games is too low to be conclusive.

But at the bottom there are a couple of interesting ones. Sunderland are rooted to the bottom of the table, but when you delve into their stats, they've gone behind 13 times and have five draws out of that.

Their problem is turning draws into wins, but something tells me that there is enough heart there for them to extricate themselves from the foot of the table.

Bolton on the other hand, are second bottom of both tables, the only way is down! What do you think? Does the phoenix rating tell us anything?

Games Gone
% score
Ipswich Town10930
Cardiff City6528
Bristol City5427
Sheff Weds8521
Nottingham Forest10620
Preston North End7419
Sheff Utd6317
Burton Albion11412
Aston Villa517
Hull City1027
Derby County517
Bolton Wanderers1126
Leeds Utd700

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commuterblue added 11:10 - Nov 18
Quality blog, and a very sound analytical approach. I agree this approach says more about the character of the squad than the absolute points won from behind.

Of course you can never fully control for tactical differences. I suspect that teams who adopt the we will score more than you mindset will always do better on this measure - they are less likely to win when ahead and more likely to avoid defeat when behind.

I would love to see two tables at the end of the season. One for home and one for away -the data will also be less volatile then (one win from behind for Wolves would nearly triple their Phoenix score).


Smithy added 15:13 - Nov 21
Probably because all the points we have gained have been away from home, hence the majority of fans have not witnessed the fighting qualities at first hand. All the games we have been behind in at home we have gone on to lose and haven't looked remotely like getting anything from, and have turned into lumping the ball forward etc.
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