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After the announcement of the pre-season friendlies in Germany, which Nick Draper will no doubt be rolling his eyes at, who else is better to ask about how to get around, where to go, and what to see in Germany, than our resident German, Mark Hendrikx? Well, Nena for one. But she wasn’t available. Believe us: we tried. And Boris Becker told us in no uncertain terms to shove it. There are no other famous Germans. So we’re stuck with Hendrikx.

So – it has been announced. Two PSFs in Germany. Kaiserslautern and Kickers Offenbach. Two mouth-watering ties, to be fair.

It is a great shame that Kaiserslautern will not be playing their match at their home stadium, the Fritz-Walter-Stadion, as it is a 49,780 capacity stadium and even though 1.FCK are in the third division in Germany, they still manage to average around 23,000 per home game. Instead, the Official Site told us that the match would be played at the “Weingarten Arena”. This is not to be confused with the Weingarten Arena near Ravensburg in South Germany. This match will be played at SV Weingarten and kick-off is at 7pm CET on Friday, 12 July.

The second match is against Kickers Offenbach. This will be a more tasty atmosphere due to the Sparda-Bank-Hessen-Stadion. A 20,500 capacity stadium, which coincidentally hosts the German National Rugby team’s home matches, averages around 8,500 a home game. Offenbach is directly next to Frankfurt am Main (not to be confused with Frankfurt an der Oder where one Benfica fan accidentally travelled to) and kick-off will be on Saturday 13 July at 3pm CET.

So, folks… if you’ve gotten this far, how about I make a few suggestions of how best to travel?

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You may recognise that as Uhtred’s – Son of Uhtred – catchphrase from ‘The Last Kingdom,’ the third season of which I just happen to be watching now (think a Viking Wagstaff with his magnificent beard). It seems now prescient on the last 10 games since our last review of what history has shown us . . .

In our last article showing us how the past might show us what was going to happen, we showed that historically over the last 10 seasons, the average number of points required to avoid relegation was 49.

Looking at past results, with 10 games to go, it suggested we’d accumulate another 13 points (nine at home; four away) and finish on 46 points, below this threshold.

In reality, we got eight points at home but a massive nine points away. And that is why we are still in League One – our away form again came to our rescue.

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So, on the back of the first home win in 2019, the simple question is: can we survive in League 1? How does our predictive, history-led analysis predict going forward? Considering how we’ve not managed to hit these results through the season, does it even give us hope, or despair?

Our last look at this analysis followed our home win against Plymouth on Boxing Day; in the league it’s been a long wait for the next one, arriving this weekend against Doncaster. That marks the 10 games to go point in the season which symmetrically counterpoints the ‘see where we are after 10 games into the season.’

Before we look to the near future, we need to see what has happened since the last update. At 24 games played, we had 21 pts (0.875 pts per game); 52% of the games had been played and we had achieved just 32% of our potential (66pts) and only 40% of our survival target (53 pts).

Now we have 33 points from 36 games (0.92 pts per game); 78% of the games have now gone and we have achieved just 50% of our potential haul and 62% of our survival target. So what lies behind these headline figures?

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So, it wasn’t meant to be like this, was it? How does our predictive, history-led analysis stack up against reality? And given our current predicament, is there any hope left for the season?

Co-incidence is a strange animal. It creeps up on you when you least expect it; but expect it you should because it’s really history (in the game). Think, really… first game in the New Year is Fleetwood and who’s still in the Cup? Yep, a nailed on certainty (why didn’t I hit the bookies then?)

Likewise , in our last analysis, it was just after we played Plymouth away so it is that this analysis follows Plymouth at home. So more than half the season gone, Neal Ardley’s gone, Neil Cox is gone and the club feels ripe for change and perhaps change is both a-coming and required. We’ll see.

And change on the pitch has very much been what we have needed. With first Simon B/Stephen Reid in charge, a touch of stability ensued and gradually things are appearing to get better. But how does this relate to our table of predictive results?

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So, 12 games in – reasonably past that ‘give them 10 games to bed in phase’ – and and how do we stand? Okay, only 20th in the table with 11 points. But how does that compare to what we expected, given past results, and how does it appear compared to last season’s torture?

The first thing I have to say about this season is that at times, from a personal viewpoint, we’ve been an absolute joy to watch. Okay, the missing of open goals; the poor conversion rate of chances to goals; and the bad luck of deflections, refereeing decisions and mental aberrations at times have been frustrating. But I now go only to KM fearing we might not win.

However, this is a results business and if you don’t produce them then you can be out. And after another surrender to a team below us – one with allegedly a number of first teamers out and no wins at home this season – there is a certain déjà vu feeling again this season.

So, updating our chart where should we have been in terms of points gained, and where are we actually. What went to plan and what did not? Here goes …

Before the start of the season, we were expected to have accumulated (surprisingly) only nine points, and so far we have got 11, so we’re ahead of the game. Of course, the actual games and league position are a reflection of the teams around us now, so although it feels like a ‘win’ there in terms of extra points already gained, in truth, given the sides around us and the performances, it seems more like a loss; bit like you felt after the Oxford win, not feeling the three points.

Looking at the results as they occurred this season it has very much felt like one foot forward, maybe two steps back. The win at Fleetwood was not expected but the draw at home to Coventry was. But then we conspired to lose at home to Walsall instead of drawing, which balanced out in part the Fleetwood win and that was then compounded by the Sunderland loss (how we did I am still trying to work out). I am very circumspect with these games against teams we have not played before; but I have not better proxy than assuming a 1-0 win at home and the same for them away.

The Burton loss was expected, but not by so many goals, whereas the Gillingham win was also one we expected to see. Scunthorpe at home should have been a draw and in many respects is symptomatic of our play and results so far this season: close but no cigar. The win against Oxford is still not one we can guarantee on past performance as our record against them over time has been so bad; but it has been better more recently so perhaps the win was more expected (if performance was not). Games where results differed from projections are highlighted yellow.

Tying things up with Bradford and Plymouth these were both games were we really expected to get something from each: Bradford should have been a win and Plymouth a draw.

So the two-point difference probably exists because of that scraped win against Oxford, but in all was that enough? A number of people required, if not expected, seven points from Oxford, Bradford and Plymouth: are we perhaps in a slow decline? We will see.

So last year we also had (albeit against different teams) nine points from our first 12 games and sat 21st in the table. Today, we are on 11 points and lie 20th, on poorer goal difference (-9 compared to -7).

Anyway, to the future and the fear already rising: Portsmouth (h), Blackpool (a), Bristol Rovers (a), Luton (h), and Shrewsbury (h). Some are seeing no points from them and when you look at them all you can see why: Portsmouth top of table and smarting from home defeat by Gillingham; Blackpool unbeaten in nine; never got anything from Rovers; and Luton and Shrewsbury seem to be random games that go either way in different seasons. But what do the stats say?

Well, specifically, Portsmouth should be a win, and Blackpool a loss like Rovers will also be. Luton gets us back on a winning track, which we complete with another win against Shrewsbury, so I make that nine points out of 15? I think we would all settle for that and I guess we really do not care how or where those points actually come from in the end, just as long as we get them. If not? Yikes!

We’ll see how it all panned out in the next update around the end of the calendar year.

// Jim Potter – @JamPot44