Welcome to some Thursday morning pessimism for you!
Something you hear quite often from fans, “we are only x number of points off the play-offs (or champions league if you can only think about the top leagues!) and when you put it like that, it sounds good. But if we look at this in a bit more detail you will notice that the glass is actually half empty and not half full like fans would always like us to believe.
I heard a Bournemouth fan recently say that his team was only 9 points off the play-offs, sitting in 10th position they would only need to climb 4 places to be in that sacred zone at the end of the season. This got me thinking (and this is common across fans of all clubs, it’s just this one in particular struck a chord with me, so I’m running with it!). This morning I checked the table and sure enough this is the case, however what fans of all clubs in a similar position often fail to notice / mention is that sure they are 9 points from the play-offs, but they are only 10 points from the drop zone.
Not only that but 9 points is quite a gap when you consider that in the current situation, there are only 9 games left of the season (seriously, where the hell has time gone this year!) and you are relying on (on average) picking up 1 extra point per game than the team in the play-off zone already. This doesn’t take into account the teams between you and the play-off zone as well, what, did we forget them as well when looking at the league table? In this situation with Bournemouth, they would be relying on Stevenage (56 points), Notts County (56 points) and Colchester (51 points) all just forgetting to play the remainder of their games, and that is without looking at the remaining fixtures and if they are playing each other at any point.
Ok, so lets just assume that Stevenage, Notts and Colchester do all forget to play the last games of the season and just look at Bournemouth and the team in the lowest play-off spot – Carlisle (57 points). Every time Carlisle win a game, there is nothing Bournemouth can do, as the last time I checked, you can’t get 4 points for a game! Going on the previous 9 games results, Carlisle have won 3, drawn 3 and lost 3. If they continued this form for the last 9 games they would finish on 69 points. In order to achieve this target, Bournemouth would need 21/22 points from the last 9 games (not depending on goal difference) which works out at 2.3 / 2.4 points per game. 7 wins from 9 or 6 wins and a
draw (and hope that goal difference does them a favour!) If Carlisle go on a better run it makes Bournemouth’s job pretty impossible. Of course this could go the other way, if they went on a 9 game losing run, Bournemouth would need to just pick up 9 points from 9 games, but the chances of this happening are pretty low.
So next time you hear Liverpool fans saying they might make the Champions League, just remember, 3 positions, 9 games and 12 points behind.
Then watch as this comes back and bites me on the arse as Liverpool finish 4th and Bournemouth make the play-offs…