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.
Looking in detail at those games, the bonus of our unexpected home win against Peterborough was undone by our loss to Gillingham. However, for the other games everything went as expected: draws with Accrington and Bristol Rovers, and a win against Wycombe.
Away from home though, the win against Southend was not expected as we were meant to draw. Scunthorpe was also a given win but all of Oxford, Luton AND Bradford were expected to see us lose. So it is fair to say that drawing all those games – though not good for the nerves at the time – were ultimately the games that did get us across the line – with some help, it has to be said, from Accrington Stanley: by missing that penalty at Kinsgsmeadow, and then by thumping Plymouth 5-1.
So now we await the beginning of our fourth year in League One, with New Plough Lane, or NPL – is anyone ever now going to NOT call it that? – a year closer to being christened with League One football.
But what has happened before – say in the last five years – with teams that flirted so dangerously with relegation in the past?
Of the 21 clubs that have been in the next bottom six, 16 have been relegated. Only Gillingham, Coventry, Shrewsbury, Fleetwood, and ourselves have survived. Of those, only Gillingham have survived where they have had two consecutive seasons in this bottom six. All others have managed either to stay out of there or, if they have appeared twice, it has not been consecutive seasons.
So there is some hope there that our two consecutive seasons may not lead to a third, although Gillingham have managed to be in this position the most: 50 per cent of the time, in fact.
But it shows more than ever how a good start to next season is required to break this trend. Remaining unbeaten at the end of this season is worth psychologically a foot up for next, but we then need to start running on gas. We will see if this materialises!
// Jim Potter – @JamPot44