|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
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
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
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
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
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