John McCormick

John McCormick: We’re not bottom, so is it a Happy Christmas?

Wrinkly Pete alluded to my dodgy numbers in his post earlier in the week so  here’s an overview on our performance to date, along with that of the clubs named in the headline, which were chosen by a free and democratic poll at the start of the season. I’m keeping it brief – only a quick trip to set the scene for a  “before and after” post early in the new year, and I’ve included Swansea this time, on the grounds that some people did vote for “another club” and they fit the bill, being as it were,  eleven Swans a sinking

We may have had some wins recently but we’re still in relegation zone, with a significant gap  opening between the bottom three (ourselves, Swansea and Hull) and the top three of the other chosen clubs. The distance in the chart below is wide enough for me to hazard a guess that WBA, Watford and Bournemouth will be safe.

Then comes a middle group, comprising Burnley, ‘Boro and Crystal Palace. All of them are catchable, yet all of them are getting points here and there. It’s anyone’s guess how this will turn out but I suspect that at least one of them will be plodging in the clarts come the end of the season, and those clarts might be thick and deep enough to suck any errant club down:

points per game required for the remaining games:

                                         Points per game required to reach 39 points: position after 17 games

Simplifying the chart by means of trendlines shows the three groups quite clearly but I must include my usual warning(s). Trendlines can’t show changes of trajectory  very well and won’t give an accurate picture for a club that has not performed consistently.  If you look at Sunderland’s trendline below and compare it with  that in the last report  you won’t see much of a difference; improved form hasn’t changed the gradient (downwards slope) of the trendline. However,  the line’s r² value has dropped from above 0.9 to just above 0.5, which I’m interpreting as meaning (mathematicians might want to look away now) the downward trend is much less certain than it was.

After a long sequence of losses then four wins in six any Sunderland fan might say this is obvious and it is. But I haven’t been following the other clubs’ performances  (I’ve just been calculating the average points needed per remaining game) so I can’t say what’s obvious and not for those clubs.

Taking those calculations, trendlines and r² values together does let me make suggestions, dodgy though they may be.  And my suggestions are:

Bournemouth, WBA and Watford have quite high r² values; their performance is consistent and they will accumulate enough points for safety.

Hull’s downward pointing line has an equally high r² value. Their descent will continue and they will not become the fourth team to survive after being bottom at Christmas. Swansea, paralleling them closely and with the highest r² value of all, will follow them down.

 trendlines after game 17

  trendlines after game 17

That leaves one of SAFC, ‘Boro, Burnley and Palace to occupy the third spot. The latter three all have trendlines with very low r² values. I’m interpreting this to mean their lines have very little predictive value – any of them could pick up points or lose them.

With Palace having sacked their manager* (and with more sackings to come, surely) and the transfer window opening shortly things are likely to change.  This is football and who really  knows anything?

That’s about all I can say, apart from:

See you when the window closes, and a Happy Christmas

*Latest news: Sam’s already in post:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/38411381

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

6 Responses to “Hull, Swansea and Sunderland down? Bournemouth, Watford, Middlesbrough, Burnley, West Brom and Crystal Palace safe? Maybe, maybe not” Subscribe

  1. wrinkly pete December 23, 2016 at 4:34 pm #

    It just shows what I know………..or don’t. I really thought this excellent, factual review would show us in a much poorer light. If we lose all three over the holiday period and it were to be repeated maybe then it would. Anyway I guess it is a good reminder that it is too early to start writing anyone off. Many thanks John.

  2. John December 23, 2016 at 6:51 pm #

    West Ham are truly awful, they must now have a chance of championship football.

    • John Mac December 23, 2016 at 7:00 pm #

      For now I’ll stick with the voters’ choices. Adding West Ham is possible but too many lines on a graph gets confusing. If any of the original choices reach 39pts and W Ham are in trouble (or Swansea pass them) I’ll maybe exercise my discretion.

      • William C December 25, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

        I don’t see West Ham being involved in the eventual relegation battle. They have too many class players for that IMO. I think both players and fans are struggling to adapt to the new stadium, but I feel they will put enough together to be safe come April.
        I hope I’m wrong though. The more candidates the better.

        • salutsunderland December 25, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

          Get well soon, Mr and Mrs C

          • William C December 26, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

            Thanks. Gradually getting there.

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