John McCormick:

John McCormick: let’s drink to next season

John McCormick writes: there’s no Premier League football this weekend, so it’s another chance to take stock and update my “relegation watch” series. If you’re new to the series and want to see how it began, or if you want to refresh your memory, you can try this link)

By now regulars should be familiar with the first graph. It dates from the close of the summer transfer window and shows our readers’ choices for the relegation spots.  I’m putting it in once more so you can remind yourself how closely it resembles reality or, alternatively, so you can work out just what the clubs have to do to prove our readers right by the end of the season. If that’s too difficult you can jump to the end, where I’ve made it simple for you.

relegation poll results after the close of the transfer window

relegation poll results after the close of the transfer window

Leicester weren’t rated  a relegation prospect.  Just as well, as they were out of sight so quickly that they never appeared on any of my charts. They reached the magic 10 (no club has been relegated after 10 wins) around Christmas and as I write, and as you read, they’re top of the premiership. I hope they stay there. I’d love to see them (us, really, but let’s be honest..) break the hegemony of the so-called big clubs.

It’s the opposite with Villa. They weren’t deemed to be particularly at risk but they’ve been propping up the table forever. Newcastle were also judged to be at no risk; they garnered about as many votes as Villa.  However they also haven’t looked too healthy and are in the bottom three with a gap opening between them and Norwich.

Norwich are a difficult kettle of fish. They took us apart but have had some collapses themselves. If they can’t get some level of consistency they could continue the statistic of at least one newly promoted club going down.

The other promoted clubs were Watford and  Bournemouth. Watford wobbled but are fine now, comfortable in mid-table with only one win needed to reach 10. Theoretically they can still go down but they won’t. I hope they’ll be on the beach by the last game of the season, not that it’s likely to matter.

Bournemouth were one of the teams fancied for relegation. After a decent enough start they were hit by injuries and went on a slide. They seem to have come through it, against my expectations, and looked comfortable against us. That said, they couldn’t put us away and they aren’t out of danger yet. A good manager, an entertaining team, can they sustain it?

Swansea gained no votes in the poll, not  even in the other clubs category.  And, indeed, they looked safe until a long run of poor results took them into the relegation zone. They’re out of it now, above both Norwich and Bournemouth. The question is, “will they stay there?” For completeness I’ve added them to the chart, but I wasn’t tracking them at the start of the season so they only appear half way through it.

Which brings us to SAFC.

We had our now traditional start, i.e. no wins in August or September, then we beat the Mags, then we had our traditional Christmas at the bottom. Big Sam’s now been here long enough to have had his new manager bounce, which has been more of a dead black cat bounce, and we’re still deep in it.

The omens do not look good. My chosen measure of performance, win-loss ratios (Again, if you’re new to the series you can find out more by following this link) has only the three bottom clubs below 0.45, which signifies impending doom.  All of the others are above 0.48 and therefore in the safe zone.   You can see this in the chart below, which shows win-loss ratios at the close of play on Sunday 24th January.

 

Win-loss ratios after 23 games, January 2016

Win-loss ratios after 23 games, January 2016

Although Norwich are hovering close to the 0.45-0.48 boundary they are above it. 

Bournemouth and Swansea are looking comfortable while Watford are nowhere close to the line. (As for Leicester, they’d be somewhere near the headline)

On the other hand Villa are so far below the boundary that it’s difficult to see a way back for them. 

Newcastle are within touching distance of the line and Sunderland aren’t too far behind.

Looking over a longer period, from game 6 onwards, you can see that the  three bottom clubs have been in trouble for most of the season. Other clubs have dipped into the danger zone but managed to claw their way out, with even Watford coming close. That’s not the case for Villa, ourselves or Newcastle, although the Mags did get above the safety line for a while.

Win-loss ratios games 6-23

Win-loss ratios, games 6-23

Graph 2 is an enlargement of part of graph 1, showing how Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle have underperformed  compared to the other clubs

Enlargement of section of graph 1

Enlargement of section of graph 1

So is it all over?

Not necessarily.

My original prediction was that any club that consistently had a win-loss ratio below 0.45 would go down and that any club consistently above 0.48 would be safe. I’m holding to those figures, which should mean it’s curtains for us. However neither Bournemouth or Norwich, not to mention Swansea, have been consistently above 0.48.  This gives us a little breathing space.

How much breathing space?

Not a lot.

There are currently 15 games left. Any of the six bottom clubs could win enough games to finish above the 0.48 line; any of them could lose enough games to end the season below 0.45. But some clubs will run out games before others. They will lose so many that winning all of those left won’t lift them above 0.45 and they will go down. On the other hand, others will win so many that they get to a point where they could lose all their remaining games and stay above 0.48. They are the ones that stay up. That’s the way it is, and it gives us a chance. Not a good one, but a chance nonetheless, and we’ve taken that chance before:

It’s easy enough to do the necessary sums by focusing on 38 or even 35 or 40 points – whatever you decide is needed for safety. What does each team have to do to get there? For my part, I feel obliged to stick with the slightly different route I’ve taken, so I’ve put the crucial win-loss ratios (i.e. 0.45 and 0.48), clubs’ wins and losses to date and the number of games left into a couple of equations, run the numbers and rounded up the decimals. My results are in the table below.

How good do you think our chances are?

 

wins to date losses to date

games left

wins to guarantee safety losses to guarantee relegation

Watford

9

9

15

2

14

Bournemouth

6

10

15

4

11

Norwich

6

12

15

5

11

Swansea

6

10

15

4

11

NUFC

5

12

15

5

10

Sunderland

5

14

15

6

9

Villa

2

14

15

8

7

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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.

3 Responses to “Villa, Sunderland, Newcastle? Norwich, Swansea or Bournemouth? Not Watford, and ha’way Leicester” Subscribe

  1. William C January 28, 2016 at 5:01 pm #

    I don’t think, as things stand, that there are three worse teams than us [ SAFC ] – I’m struggling to think of ONE to be honest, because Villa seem to have picked up.

    However, I always felt that our chances of survival depended on Sam’s work in the January window, and the next few games will give some indication of that.

    I think Villa have got an awful lot to do, and I can’t see them finishing outside the bottom three.

    I’ve watched Norwich a couple of times, and their defence is TERRIBLE – as bad as ours. Liverpool, who IMO are a not great, demonstrated last week that they are totally unable to defend a straight forward ball through the middle.

    NUFC have underachieved, but I think McClaren is a good coach, and seems to be finding a system.

    Watford and Bournmouth are both hard working sides, without stand out players. I think either could falter.

    I think Swansea have some really decent players, and will pull clear.

    So, as it is now, to me it looks like Villa, Sunderland and Norwich are favourites.

    However….if we can get Kaboul and Larsson fit, and if Sam’s recruits prove inspirational, we might, just, pull off another great escape? I live in hope.

  2. Eric012 January 28, 2016 at 6:24 pm #

    My analysis, not quite as detailed as John’s, gives us 37 points (including the customary 3 against the Mags).

    • john mac January 28, 2016 at 10:42 pm #

      37’s often enough

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