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Can Town Avoid Relegation?
Written by AndrewPC on Sunday, 13th Jan 2019 21:56

Town scrapped for a vital 1-0 home win against a poor Rotherham side on Saturday.

Beforehand, Paul Lambert had thrown the dice and brought in five new players he thinks will strengthen the squad, with a sixth, Alan Judge, likely. There are now 19 games left, can Town avoid the drop?

To answer, let us look at the data points first. Then we can consider the potential upside for results, based on the possible catalysts.

1. Data Points

Although Town are currently 24th and seven points adrift of 20th place, this is not the best way to assess our predicament. Consider instead the table below showing Town's position based on points from the last six games.

Bottom of League Table - Position by Points in Last Six Games

PositionClubPoints (from 18)
(Last 6 Games)
(27 Games)
Goal Diff.Points
17Millwall928- 1057
18Sheff Wed732- 1454
19Town718- 2440
20Preston530- 546
21Reading523- 1139
22Wigan429- 1242
23Rotherham425- 1738
24Bolton422- 2236

What this reveals is that, on recent form and results, Town have five teams below them. Extrapolating each club's average points from the last six games to the end of the season brings an outcome wherein Town finish above Bolton, Rotherham and Reading in 21st position on 40 points.

This projection is not a hard prediction. Extrapolating short-term averages is a recipe for error. However, it does underscore that probabilities do not yet rule out a possible Town escape, if they can at least maintain an average seven points from each 18 available until the end of the season.

Looking at the final League Table for the 2017/18 season however, shows that the club positioned 21st (Bolton) had 43 points, suggesting that an avergae eight points per six games looks a more likely target.

2. Possible Upside for Results - Catalysts

From now until end of the season, let us say Town need to obtain 44 points: 26 from the remaining 19 games.

Below, I divide the remaining Town fixture list into three groups of matches, indicating what could be the achievable results assuming that defined catalysts take effect.

What I try to do here is indicate how performances/confidence/momentum/results are all inter-related. If those inter-relations develop positive feedback loops, then resilience and consistency carry the day, the bottle is 'half full', not 'half empty'.

That means that the players/manager/coaching staff/fans all contribute to push Town over the finish line with at least 44 points. This season, with teams around performing on only four or five points per six games, this points total may well suffice.

Fixtures - Group 1 - Possible Results

Blackburn (A)1
Villa (A)0
Sheff W (H)3
Norwich (A)1
Derby (H)1

Total Points 6 from 18

Progress in performance is a process and Lambert has to bed-in the six new arrivals. They are experienced professionals so this should be achievable quickly as Lambert will make clear what is his chosen 18 squad and playing formation(s) (probably 4-2-3-1) and stick with it.

However, do not expect this to translate overnight into an upturn in results. The next five games are tough and the likelihood of suddenly picking up points away at Blackburn and Villa is low.

However, three points at home to Sheffield Wednesday and then a valiant performance against Norwich away would build belief. Keeping Derby and Marriott at bay at home then provides a platform. One defeat in five will indicate the team is on the cusp of better performances.

Fixtures - Group 2 - Possible Results

Stoke (H)3
Wigan (A)1
Reading (H)3
WBA (A)1
Bristol C.(A)1
Forest (H)3

Total Points 12 from 18

This set of six games is where Town have to turn improved confidence and performances into results. If a positve performance and win is achieved at home to an underperforming Stoke team trying to adapt to a new playing style under a new manager, then this will inspire Town to more resilience and consistency.

An unbeaten run of six games and three consecutive home victories - 12 points from a possible 18, and Lambert's refrain of "anything can happen" once results are repeated, will ring true. The positive feedback phenomenon will be in play. Town would now have 36 points, with eight games left to play.

Fixtures - Group 3 - Possible Results

Hull (H)1
Bolton (A)3
Brentford (A)0
Birmingham (H)3
Preston (A)0
Swansea (H)3
Sheff U (A)0
Leeds (H)0

Total Points 10 from 18

The 'business end' of the season is upon us and teams are fighting to be either in the top six or out of the bottom three. Of Town's eight games, the last two are against teams seeking to secure promotion.

Among the others are Preston, Bolton and Brentford - all of whom may still need points to escape the drop. Hull, Swansea and Birmingham are likely to be in the safety of mid-table.

Town's momentum from previous games should provide them with the resilience and quality to hold Hull and beat Bolton away (a 'six-pointer'). Whereas the last two games of the season against Sheffield United and Leeds could end up empty-handed as these two struggle to gain the two top places.

That will not be Town snatching defeat from victory however, as their previous results will have carried them to a 45 points total, which will just get them over the finish line into 21st position. Well, that's the hope anyway.

Town's Core 20-man Squad



Nsiala or Carter Vickers?

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ElephantintheRoom added 10:33 - Jan 14
A good read. I remember doing a similar analysis of the last six games under Hurst and you could draw a similar upwards trajectory for Town, indicating that relegation was all but impossible in such a desperately poor division. The conclusion then was that the experience Hurst's new team gained in a long hard slog would provide a solid basis for improvement. SInce Hurst was hounded out, Lambert has essentially replicated the same mistakes - constructed 'his' team with few matches in which to gel. After going backwards, Town (thanks to a win over Rotherham, which could prove something of a mirage) are now back on that upward curve. But the big difference now is that all Hurst's buys have been marginalized and its a team chock full of temps. Town could/should stay up - but you have to wonder if it would have been better to do it with your own players.

rugbytomc added 11:37 - Jan 14
Chuck in a new right back as well

That all looks possible. I suppose it depends on how the other teams in relegation contention fare as well.

On the other hand - it also makes the task look quite daunting!

TR11BLU added 12:25 - Jan 14
You make a good case for survival, and I truly hope you are right.

For me, seeing those fixtures laid out like that, fill me with more fear than I had this morning when looking at the table! I think you are hugely optimistic with the first two group of games which will, by definition, have a bearing on the last group.

I consider myself an optimist but see no points from any of the first batch, less Sheff Wed. I want to be wrong.

jayessess added 13:46 - Jan 14
Ultimately it's going to depend on us getting a whole let better defensively. Defending poorly turns good performances into defeats (Millwall), fighting away performances into comfy home wins (Boro) and below par displays into batterings (QPR). Defending well helps us take points of superior opposition (Blades) and even to win games when our play doesn't really merit it (Wigan, Rotherham). The quality of our play is going to be up and down but the defending can't be.

Let's hope the grit they showed on Saturday is a sign of things to come.


Stretchyboy added 14:29 - Jan 14
Hate to pee on your parade, but you've spent a lot of time and effort on something that is completely irrelevant. Stats are a complete waste of time when predicting outcomes.
What if we do a Hull and win 6 on the bounce? what if we do an "Ipswich" and lose 6 on the bounce? You can't base anything on the last 6/12/18 results.
Simple maths is, we need to gain a minimum of 7 points on Rotherham, 5 on Reading, and 4 on Bolton....and we have 19 games to do it.

Len_Brennan added 07:38 - Jan 15
We are well capable of overturning the points deficit to Bolton & Rotherham over the next 19 games; whether or not we can add Reading (who seem to be improving) or another side in the relegation picture aswell as those 2 is the bit that my biased optimism is struggling with.
Generally speaking a side in the Championship needs to be aiming for 50 points in order to avoid relegation & on at least 2 occasions in the last 10 or so years that happy rose to 54/55. Of course others have stayed up by finishing in the high 40s, but at the very least we need to be looking at 30 points from 19 games to bring us to 48, which seems a tall order & means we are going to have to win more than every other game until the end of the season & draws are not going to be good results in the main.
Not impossible, but realistically very difficult.

Len_Brennan added 07:39 - Jan 15
Happy = Tally.

BlueandTruesince82 added 19:06 - Jan 16
No..... but i hope to proved wrong

MVBlue added 10:04 - Jan 19
My reckoning is we need 9/10 wins, draws are not good enough now.

raycrawfordswig added 21:17 - Jan 19
Need to score goals and cut out schoolboy defending.

Skip73 added 15:27 - Jan 29
In a word..... No
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