Monday, March 15, 2010

Flat Track Bullies

"Statistics are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital." (Aaron Levenstein)

The league table never lies, or does it?

Despite a frustratingly inconsistent run which began just before Christmas, the Addicks still find themselves in 3rd position so it's hardly a crisis.

Nonetheless, over the course of the past 15 games, the team has been accumulating points in the style of a midtable side rather than a promotion hunting one.

Just 5 wins and 21 points during this period explain the chasm that now exists between Charlton and leaders Norwich, and more worryingly the gang of three teams lurking behind us in the remaining play-off spots.

So whilst automatic promotion looks a very distant prospect despite the similar inconsistencies of Leeds, surely a play-off spot is all but assured? Not so fast I'm afraid.

I met up for an enjoyable couple of pints recently with a fellow Charlton fan called Chris. He's the type of thoughtful fan who really ought to have his own blog, except he's too busy running a successful global company.

He pointed out a statistic which had hitherto passed me by.....the highest placed team that Charlton had beaten away from home, were Leyton Orient currently sitting in 14th place!

This was despite the Addicks recording a creditable seven away wins in total, the joint third best record in the division.

We are the League One equivalent of cricket's flat track bully. The seven teams we have beaten on the road are the weaklings presently occupying 14th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 22nd, 23rd and 24th.

And if we can bully teams on their own patch, we're even more full of confidence when they turn up at The Valley virtually asking for a beating.

Just look at the teams currently occupying the four relegation spots (Stockport, Wycombe, Southend and Exeter). Our record against this sorry quartet? Played 7, Won 7.

In other words virtually a third of our points have been accumulated from the League's worst four teams.

Amongst the five fellow sides that make up the top six however, it's a different story of course. No wins, two defeats and five draws (including two desperate late equalisers against Swindon).

There's nothing wrong with this modus operandi in principle. You don't get any more points for beating a good side rather than a poor one, a concept that Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United were acutely aware of in 2008/9.

They romped to the Premiership title, accumulating 90 points of which 85 were picked up against the bottom 16 teams.

In other words, they dropped more points against the trio that make up the rest of the so-called 'big four' (13), than they did against the sixteen also rans (11).

The problem for Charlton however is that we still have ten games left, and they are heavily concentrated against sides in the intimidating upper echelons of the table.

If one assumes that Southampton should really be in 8th position given their actual 57-point haul, then our remaining fixtures are against teams placed 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th, 17th, 19th and 21st.

The four fixtures against bottom-half sides will make or break our season, not the more glamourous looking ones, just as they have evidently done throughout the campaign.

We manifestly cannot afford to slip up against either Gillingham or Carlisle at home, whilst the away fixtures at Exeter and Oldham are probably tougher than they appear.

The Grecians have lost just four times at home all season, whilst the Latics may well be fighting for their League One lives on the final day.

Frankly it's a horrendous run-in, and it scares me. A small boost may turn up in the fact that both Norwich and Leeds will likely arrive at The Valley with nothing to play for, although even this doesn't always work in the opposition's favour.

After all if the team does not pick up the 12 or so points it's likely to need from those four lowly sides, then it will probably have to do what it has failed to do all season......beat a top-six side, or win away from home at a side above 14th.

Don't let the League table fool you. As the aforementioned Sir Alex Ferguson once said, it really is "squeaky bum time" now.

8 Comments:

At 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand the point. Aside from a financial reward(for the club, at our expense), reaching the playoffs without a substantial improvement in form will be worthless. To have any chance in the playoffs we would need to win at least, 4 or 5 of the last 10. Right now who would back us to beat a Millwall, Southampton, Huddersfield or even Colchester over one home leg, never mind two? To get promoted through playoffs we'd have to win 6games, including two very high pressure games. It's not going to happen. It's more likley that Leeds fold under pressure, and if we win 5 or 6 league games then we might sneak in. Realistically, Millwall will sneak past and we will end up facing Leeds in the playoffs.

 
At 10:31 PM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Yes it could well be like the season under Curbs in the mid-90s, when merely making the play-offs was such a bonus that we surrendered tamely against Palace.

 
At 7:35 AM, Blogger Hungry Ted said...

A good read. I really do feel cheated by Charlton this season as, like everyone else, I can't feel much more unconvinced about our chances of a quick return to the Championship, and yet, there we are in third place! I just can't fathom whether I'm overeacting to bad results and set-backs, or not. All to typically Charlton! My prediction, for what it's worth, is that we will make the Play-Off's: beyond that I will offer no further predictions as we enter the grand divisional lottery!

 
At 8:00 AM, Blogger Dave said...

The run-in is also interesting in that there are 10 Top 6 encounters as things stand, not to mention several more involving Huddersfield. On the basis that points must be taken off one another in these games, any side who over-performs should be sitting pretty. With three home games at the Valley we still have it in our hands is we can smell the coffee (however unlikely that looks right now). Our games at Southampton and Huddersfield could yet be the most disappointing...

 
At 8:21 AM, Anonymous newyorkaddick said...

Dave, good point about the other top six fixtures not involving Charlton.

Unfortunately our record in the 7 out of 10 we've played so far doesn't bode well.
However if we can scrape points at Huddersfield and MK, it may be moot as they'll struggle to close the gap on us.

 
At 8:00 AM, Blogger 方便 said...

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At 9:26 PM, Blogger ChicagoAddick said...

NYA is the ^^^^ just a ploy to attract comments ;-)

 
At 1:54 PM, Anonymous SLC Red said...

I have to be one of the most optimistic fans around. Living 5000 miles away you have to be to raise the activation energy for several trips to the Valley each season. However, I never for a minute believed we were automatic promotion candidates this season after the previous season's performance. It was too much to believe. We still don't have a settled side, find it difficult to acquire and maintain a spine and don't threaten enough in and around the box. Do we really need a striker Parkinson or some creative play from midfield?

 

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