And so we have it: the fixtures are out. You’ll be getting your fill of dates, and conjecture from all over, no doubt, and enjoying the pre-season buzz of anticipation that it brings.

But when you’re tucked up under the sheets, reading Charles Buchan’s “Football Monthly” with a torch and reality bites, do you think you’ll win League One?

Or even get promoted?

If you do, please let us know. If you don’t, let us know who you think will make the grade.

For the past few years I’ve done a pre-season survey of fans and then monitored their top five or six choices over the ensuing months, using various metrics that you won’t find elsewhere. We have always welcomed contributions from fans of other clubs in these surveys but this is predominantly a Sunderland site and we aren’t claiming results are totally unbiased.

Nevertheless, I think it’s fair to say that SAFC fans have not been blindly optimistic. Last season, for example, in our “who’s going up” survey, SAFC came in only sixth, not far ahead of Norwich, and local rivals Middlesbrough were favourites. They and Aston Villa both gained over one thousand votes and Fulham passed nine hundred, which might give you some indication of the number of people who took part, and every Championship club gained votes, which might give you an indication of how far the poll travelled.

My arithmetic’s always correct but I don’t want to mimic other sites (from fans, statisticians or bookies), and I like to present things a little differently, so I look for alternative ways of tracking clubs and use my own judgement in making decisions.

points gained by selected clubs after 11 games, season 2017 – 2018 

Last season I plotted progress against the averages typically needed to get into the top two or the playoff spots. Two black lines showed my estimate of the points needed in relation to a top two or a top six finish, and coloured lines showed where our six chosen teams were in relation to them on a game by game basis.

The more keen-eyed among you will notice the eventual top two clubs, Wolves and Cardiff, don’t feature in the above diagram. They weren’t among the chosen six and had to be added after the New Year; it was much later in the season that they gained a presence  in the reviews I did.

What do you expect from a series whose title includes the phrase “dodgy numbers”?

The season before, when we we looking at relegation, the focus was on the need for 39 points. That was 2016 -17, of course, when Sunderland were in the Premiership. In the graph below you can see how WBA reached safety after about 25 games (by reaching a requirement of 0 points per game), how Sunderland were doomed after 32 by needing more than 3 points per game, and how Swansea staged a late revival to change places with a plunging Hull City:

2016-17 Premiership relegation contenders: points per game required to reach 39 points 

The method I’ll use for the coming season is is known only to me at the moment; all I’ll say for now is that it will be different from the previous two seasons.

When I googled “League 1 promotion” I got a website which aggregated and listed the odds being given by a number of bookies. It would appear Sunderland are favourites for promotion, with the next five most fancied clubs being Barnsley, Charlton, Portsmouth, Luton and Scunthorpe. But what do the bookies know? The transfer window’s still open and anything can happen between now and its closure. Will your club do better than Sunderland, or any of the above clubs, once August comes round? Now’s your chance to let us know.

You can choose up to six clubs in our poll, so you’d effectively be identifying your selection for automatic promotion and the playoffs. If that’s too much you can pick fewer than six and if you want to you can stick to just one club and be loyal, no matter how daft it may seem to others. The choice is yours.

If you want to let us know the reasons for your choice we’d be delighted to have them in the comments section below. If you haven’t posted here before your comment(s) will be held for moderation but they will go up, whatever and whoever they favour, as long as they abide by the principle of respect and avoid libel, copyright infringment, swearing etc. We’re that kind of site.

The resuts of the poll will be published on the site around the end of July, in time for the start of the season, and the progress of your favourite club(s) will be reported every few weeks once it begins.

*McCormick’s dodgy numbers. The arithmetic’s correct, it’s just the rest could be a bit wonky. For other posts in the series follow this link

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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.

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