Do we know owt about football?

That’s what I asked a couple of years ago, when I was comparing a pre-season poll with end-of season positions. And that’s more or less what the Mrs said  when I showed her the graph I’d done to compare the current championship placings with our readers’ pre-season expectations.

Just as the last time, the expectation is nothing like the reality,  although it must be said that this time around it’s still early days.


If you’ve visited this site before you might remember we had a poll

Who will be the top six clubs? 

Over 1,200 people took part in the poll. There were 7,000+ votes cast,  from all over the country and further afield. That’s not a massive number but it’s good enough for me to use in picking teams to follow over the coming season (and it appears to be 15 times bigger than ticketgum seem to think is adequate for a survey).

And my plan worked brilliantly, didn’t it, because, of the six clubs which topped the poll, only one is in currently in the top six league positions.

Have a look at the graph on the right. The clubs in yellow are our chosen six. Those in blue got less than 10% of the vote between them.  They are:

Cardiff – a 100% record – magnificent.

Ipswich– a winning start was halted by Fulham, who picked up 20 times as many votes in our poll.

Nottingham Forest, who just survived last season are already giant-killers. What’s not to like?

Wolves have had some tough games but only Cardiff have bested them. Consistency might be the key for an oft-overlooked club with history on their side.

Sheffield United have had as tough a start as any club and have come through their baptism of fire. We also note they  managed to beat Barnsley.


So the chosen clubs, with the exception of Leeds, have some catching up to do. Will they manage it?

When I started this series my (dodgy*) numbers told me that an average of 1.92 points per game would lead to promotion, while 1.57 would lead to a place in the playoffs. That enabled me to come up with a way of tracking the progress of the clubs. Here’s the graph I produced in July, now with a slight tweak in the bottom left corner:

Above the blue line – promotion, above the red, playoffs

The little bit flashing on and off in the bottom left corner shows how much of the season has gone, and correspondingly how much remains. The Championship truly is a marathon. However, with a weekend empty of league fixtures and a freshly-closed window now’s a good time to take stock.

So here’s an enlargement of that bottom corner (in which I’ve changed the red and blue diagonals to black to avoid clashes with the colours of the club lines):

You can see that Leeds have been the most consistent performer – of the six selected clubs. They haven’t lost yet, have been above the promotion line more often than not, and have never been below the play-off marker.

After losing their first game ‘Boro picked up a couple of wins but have tailed off – or are they heading upwards again? However, they are not quite in the playoff zone and my  somewhat pessimistic ‘Boro-supporting neighbour reckons they should have done better from the fixtures they have had. So it’s not all brilliant there.

Sunderland did make it into the promotion zone but then slipped back, so much so that Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday have passed them and Aston Villa, who made a terrible start, have caught them. The comments following Pete’s match reports or score predictions tell me that Sunderland fans have no idea how this is going to go, but pessimism followed last Saturday’s defeat and it has hardly been lifted by transfers since then, although I and other readers, judging from their comments, see more positives than negatives in our goings and comings yesterday. (Pete Sixsmith will be giving his opinion tomorrow and his excellent analysis is a must of a read.)

I’m not the best person to comment on Fulham, Sheffield Wednesday and Aston Villa, other than to say that I’m surprised all three of them opened so poorly. Villa, it has to be said, had tough games piled one on top of the other and Fulham appeared at first glance to have played many of the same opponents. Maybe they’ll both come good. Sheffield Wednesday appear to have done worse against some allegedly weaker clubs although they did beat Fulham. Perhaps they are a bit more hit and miss, but what do I know?

Hopefully Owls fans, along with Villains and Cottagers, will let us know what they think – comments are always welcome.

  • But notice that little bit of emphasis a few paragraphs up – “of the six selected clubs.”

Cardiff aren’t on the chart, nor are Forest, Wolves, Sheffield Utd or Ipswich. Perhaps they deserve to be, but that graph is complicated enough. Maybe, if they are still in position when I next revisit, I’ll find a way to put them in.


I’ve mentioned some other Salut posts. Follow these links for the relevant series:

Pete Sixsmith’s

“First time”




the man himself

 McCormick’s Craic  graphics by Jake  Sixsmith’s soapbox

*McCormick’s dodgy numbers. The arithmetic’s correct, it’s just the rest could be a bit wonky

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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.

2 Responses to “Cardiff, Ipswich, Forest, Wolves and Sheffield Utd leave Villa, Fulham, Wednesday, Middlesbrough and SAFC standing” Subscribe

  1. Dan Gleebals September 1, 2017 at 10:30 am #

    Not making excuses but Fulhams shaky start isn’t as bad as it looks. Draw at Reading who where in play off finals and we had 10 men from the first minute , a draw at Leeds who are doing well , an away win at Ipswich. Not that bad. Although the home defeat to SWFC was bad , it was just one of those days. We’ll be fine

    • John Mac September 1, 2017 at 11:41 am #

      Thanks, Dan

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