Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We Are Leeds?

I believe Charlton are the only side in League One for whom I cannot make the following statement with at least 95% confidence: “They will not generate more than 100 points.” (New York Addick, 2 Aug 2011)

Lest I be accused of being in a state of perma-negativity, I draw the attention of the jury to the above statement made before the season even started.

Indeed with the team now on course for 111 points (based on 2.42 per game so far), I probably couldn’t even make that claim with at least 50% confidence.

After Monday night’s all-action win over Huddersfield, I decided it was time to get my trusty abacus out again to assess where we now stand in regard to the ultimate goal….promotion.

The current League One table is conveniently free of assumptions about games in hand given that every team has played exactly 19 games.

Simple extrapolation suggests that 93 points will be required for automatic promotion (Huddersfield are in 3rd place and averaging 2 points per game).

However historical precedent suggests that this is likely an overestimation.

In the past ten seasons, the following points totals would have been sufficient to guarantee automatic promotion: 88, 86, 88, 81, 84, 77, 80, 83, 84, 84 (average: 83.5).

Given that even fifth placed Sheffield United are on course for a points total in excess of this average, the total required this season is likely to test the upper boundary of the above range.

For the sake of simplification, I will suggest that 88 points will again be sufficient, as they were in 2010/11 (Brighton/Southampton) and 2008/9 (Leicester/Peterborough).

If true, then it means that Charlton require just 42 points from their 27 remaining games, equivalent to just 72 points over a full season.

Looked at another way, it only requires the same degree of form that Brentford and Carlisle have shown in their own 19 games this season (ie. 1.53pts per game).

With the team displaying such terrific team spirit, scoring goals for fun, defending like warriors and able to temporarily replace the injured players (Stephens, Jackson) with new loanees, even I will struggle to build a case that this points target is beyond us.

However an analogy from 2009/10 has been troubling me slightly for reasons that will become eerily apparent.

After 19 games of that season, Leeds United had a record of P19 W14 D4 L1 Pts 46……sound familiar?

Interestingly, of the 11 points that they too had dropped up to this point, 6 had come at home and 5 away just as Charlton’s have.

After their 19th game, the table looked like this:

Leeds P19 46
Charlton P20 42
Norwich P20 38
Colchester P20 36
Huddersfield P20 32
Swindon P18 31

With a game in hand and a eight-point gap between 1st and 3rd, they too must surely have felt automatic promotion was almost assured already.

Indeed when they went to Manchester United just a few weeks later and won an FA Cup tie there too, their stock could hardly have been any higher.

As we know what actually happened was that promotion was only achieved on the final day, and not before even Charlton briefly occupied the 2nd spot for a few minutes.

The problem of course was a diabolical dip in form from 9th Jan onwards, caused perhaps by those very FA Cup exploits (they subsequently earned a draw at White Hart Lane before bowing out at home).

Somewhat astonishingly given their prior form, they won just 3 of their next 16 League One matches, a run which even included a spell of four consecutive defeats, all to teams which would eventually occupy the final top six.

They recovered sufficiently to scrape past the finish line thanks to 5 wins from their final 7 games, but it was one hell of a close run thing.

If there is a potential lesson in the above story, it is to recognise that progressing to the 3rd Round of the FA Cup may well be a poisoned chalice.

Had Leeds missed out on promotion, it is hard to believe their fans (and directors) would not gladly have given up those great days out in Manchester and Tottenham, for a top two finish.

The other lesson is not to allow complacency to even threaten to creep into our preparation and focus (and to be fair, there is absolutely no evidence that it has).

There were signs of it at Stevenage (and I wasn’t afraid to point it out), but clearly lessons were learned and they have bounced back in fine style.

From a personal point of view, I hope it’s wrapped up long before Hartlepool on May 5th because the wife is expecting our third child that very weekend.

This potentially presents the very embodiment of a ‘modern dilemma’, and in my experience women can be very selfish in this regard.

She may have to be induced.


At 8:06 PM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

Congratulations on your (somewhat not new) news.

At 8:12 PM, Anonymous Peter in Brighton said...

I was discussing the very same issue with a Sheff Wed fan this morning, and pointing out what happened to Leeds after they went to Old Trafford and won. On the evidence of the JPT game at home, when we were soundly spanked by Brentford, it might not be a bad thing if we fail to beat Carlisle again (I feel it rarely happens that a team loses by four goals twice in a season at the same venue). A trip to a Div 2 side (or even a lower Prem side) is not a great money spinner, and is just as likely as a trip to one of the 4or 5 clubs who would guarantee a big attendance.

However, I must add that this present start to a season is just what we wanted and more, a time when, for a change, you expect to see on Sat pm the score come up with Charlton in the lead, and are rather surprised when a goal goes in at the other end. Let's enjoy it, cos it doesn't last long for the likes of the Addicks.

Ever wondered how dull and predictable it must be to support Manchester Utd, by contrast?

Come on you Addicks!

At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Im struggling to make sense of the August statement!

Could you explain it a little simpler as i cant work out if you was being positive or not

At 10:00 AM, Blogger New York Addick said...

Anonymous, I suppose it depends which way you look at it. It was really an expression of 'uncertainty', with any surprise likely to be to the upside (the positive part).

In short, because of the sheer amount of players we brought in, I felt that the potential realistic points total range for Charlton was very wide, on a 95% confidence basis ie. based on the facts known in early-August, if the season was played out 20 times, what points total range would I be confident that the team's points total would fall within in at least 19 of these 20 seasons.

For Charlton the upper band of this range would be >100 points, but not for any of the other 23 clubs. On the evidence of the first 19 games, it appears I was right to allow my imagination to run wild in this way!


Post a Comment

<< Home