By Dave Cronin.
There has been quite a bit of discussion lately about our much highlighted failure to beat a team in the current top 10 compared with our increasingly regular habit of routing the League’s struggling teams. After our 5-0 mauling of Norwich, there was some debate as to whether being ‘flat-track bullies’ was necessarily a bad thing or is in fact a positive thing. We are now seemingly winning the games we should expect to be winning whilst not winning games we shouldn’t expect to win (but would probably enjoy winning more).
In the summer, I hypothesised along similar lines that if we took the points we could reasonably be expected to take from teams, we could achieve Champions League qualification.
By way of a recap, I split the League into four tiers against which different sets of results could be reasonably expected.
The top tier comprised City, United, Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea. From this group I set the meagre target of drawing with each at home with defeats expected away from home (thus taking 1 point from each team over the season).
In the second tier were Everton, Villa, Sunderland and Newcastle, against whom I set the target of beating each at home but expecting defeat away (taking 3 points from each team over the season).
In the third tier were Swansea, Stoke, QPR and Fulham against whom I set the target of winning at home and drawing away (taking 4 points from each team over the season).
Finally, the fourth tier comprised West Brom, Norwich, West Ham, Wigan, Southampton and Reading against whom the target was home and away wins (taking 6 points from each team over the season).
I’m going to be using the terms expected and reasonable expectations quite often in this piece. You should note that in using them, I am attaching slightly different definitions to their normal use. In the context of this piece, they relate specifically to the expectations I set at the start of the season before the first League match kicked off and it was my opinion at that time that these were reasonable though others may have disagreed then or now with the benefit of hindsight.
Given that it was never a realistic scenario that we would perform exactly to expectation, I made the point that ‘bonus points’ against the better teams would be necessary to offset dropped points against the teams we should beat.
The aim was never to predict the results of specific games but to set points targets from specific groups of games.
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