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Ian Holloway enjoyed a brief spell at Plough Lane in the mid-80s, in what he describes as a great, if somewhat mixed, experience. Here, he chats to Kevin Borras about his Wimbledon days, his thoughts on Wally Downes and Glyn Hodges, and his views on the current situation at the club.

This ten-minute chat took place at The Valley, at the EFL on Quest Season Launch event, also featuring Colin Murray, Karen Carney, and Chris Powell. More from the event can be found on the Quest TV Twitter page, @QuestTV.

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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?

If you are contemplating attending both matches (Nick will deem you crazy), you have one of two options. Fly into Stüttgart, as it is slightly less of a distance to Weingarten than Frankfurt, and fly back to the UK from Frankfurt. Or you can fly into Frankfurt, take a train down to Weingarten and then fly back from Frankfurt. Please beware and do not book flights to Frankfurt Hahn. This airport is in the arse-end of nowhere. Fly directly to FRA (airport code).

So – if you are going to travel by train from Frankfurt or Stüttgart to Weingarten book directly on the German Railway website.

Before you go into details looking at Weingarten – bear in mind you will probably need to get a taxi from Lingenfeld station to the stadium. This will set you back around €15 each way.

Let’s take Frankfurt to Weingarten as an example. You will need to go from Frankfurt to Lingenfeld. This should offer you an ICE train (Inter-City-Express) via Mannheim and then you’ll need to get onto a local service to Lingenfeld. I have just searched online and found a return trip from Frankfurt to Lingenfeld for €47,80. This is a very good price, considering you’ll be on an ICE train. Outbound from Frankfurt (Main) at 15:06 arriving Lingenfeld at 16:41. Return journey would be departing Lingenfeld at 21:17 arriving at Frankfurt 22:58. Or you can get the return trip departing Lingenfeld at 23:00 and arriving at Frankfurt at 00:42. Same price at €47.80 (if you book in advance only).

Nearby to the stadium is the Gaststätte Zum Schwanen (the Guesthouse by the Swans). It gets good reviews with a decent choice of beer on tap and a good menu for dinner.

If you’re planning on staying somewhere nearby to this location, I would advise to get to Mannheim and stay there. It has better transport links to Frankfurt / Offenbach for the following match.

Offenbach is a completely different kettle of fish. If you’re deciding on staying in Offenbach, then grab the S8 train from FRA airport and disembark at whichever Offenbach train station nearest to your accommodation. It’ll cost you all of €5 to get to Offenbach from FRA for a 30 minute journey. If you’re on a budget, then look at staying somewhere in Offenbach. Frankfurt is very expensive in comparison.

At this point, I think I will leave you to your devices, choosing how best to travel, what accommodation you’ll be looking for and which match(es) you will attend. Let me finish with a few little pointers about German & German etiquette.

  • Don’t be a dick or you’ll get hit.
  • At bars and restaurants it is customary to tip. Just round up to the nearest €5 or €10 depending which is closer to 10% of the total bill.
  • If you are polite, people will be polite back. But the Germans are very pragmatic and to the point. If something says it is €15, it is bloody well €15.
  • Don’t break any rules … you will get fined on the spot if caught. And the fines are heavy handed.
  • Enjoy yourselves. Don’t bring up history. Chat football with the other fans and you’ll have friends for life.
  • And finally – it is very important to remember that if you cheers someone in Germany with a glass, you look the other person directly in the eye. There is a superstition about this which I won’t explain here (you can google it).

Enjoy your trip(s). It’ll be a blast.

// Mark Hendrikx – @MarkatCIFF

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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.

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

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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?

Well, mainly – if you had not noticed – we are pretty awful at home. At the beginning of the season we expected to get 45 of the season’s predicted 66 points at home (68%); currently we have achieved 33%. When you look at the results, expected home wins against Barnsley, Blackpool, Burton, Charlton, and Fleetwood just did not happen. In fact the Doncaster result was the only spot on prediction to occur – win and score.

Away from home the results have kept us in the game so to speak. Of the expected 21 points for the season we have already achieved 18, but even here most of the results went as expected, bar Walsall where we won, when we expected to lose (God they must hate playing us at their place!)

Click here for the full breakdown of expected and actual points.

In the last article I did say, a point per game is not guarantee of survival. However, one feature of this league this season has been how everyone seems to almost beat anyone else (except Luton and Barnsley). The fact that we were 10pts off safety, but now 10pts off the team in 13th in the league shows the compaction that has occured over the last 2 months. That gives us a bit of hope.

Reviewing the last 10 seasons in League 1, we find that the average number of points required to be 5th from bottom is 49, with a spread between 51 and 44 (2012). So actually that target of 53 appears almost generous. Add into that a change in our fortunes since NA left: at home we averaged 0.4 pts per game and away 0.88; with W&G we are up to 1.22 at home and 1.1 away (not that it seems that at home – and thanks to Secret Agent on WUP for those figures)

But given the genesis of this series of articles, what is the prediction based on history telling us?

Well for the final 10 games at home we SHOULD achieve 9 points; away from home we SHOULD get 4. If we do we will have 46 points, so will be most likely relegated! (note the pts spread above?)

But… and it’s a big but: if things go to plan. So far there has been nothing to show that we will achieve anything like our predicted results and going into the last few days, perhaps the twist to come is that we will again not hit our predicted targets: we may miss them, we may exceed them as we now have a different team mentality.

And look who and what happens in the last game …

Whatever happens in these last 10 games, we have this season been punching below our historical weight. And that will make some doom-mongers happy, but give us I suppose, an excuse to swallow and take forward as a form of acceptance as we go into League 2.

// Jim Potter – @JamPot44

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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?

Less we not remember, as mentioned numerous times previously, a point per game is not guarantee of survival. So played 24 with 21 points we are behind, and if the oft mentioned 53 point safety line is anything of note, we feel an awfully long way away from it at present!

So how have things shaped up since last time? Perhaps, not surprisingly, our inability to get our expected result in 75% of these games shows why we are hurting. Indeed, the expected home wins against Portsmouth, Luton and Shrewsbury have probably done the most damage. Whilst our away form has prevented us picking up the odd point we expected – like at Plymouth, Doncaster and even Charlton – losing at Peterborough where we expected to win, didn’t help too!

Click here for the full breakdown of expected and actual points.

The specks of light at the end of the tunnel have been the expected win, exactly as score predicted, at Wycombe and the first ‘bonus’ win against Southend which we were expected to lose. But the most significant win perhaps will still turn out to be that at home to Plymouth, converting an expected 1-2 loss into a 2-1 win.

However, there is no doubt that we are still very much up against it; we have accumulated just 40% of the safety net value of 53 pts after passing half way in games. The question to be answered is, can we gain enough points to survive?

Whatever the reality becomes, looking at the remaining games left and the expected results we still have a good potential to be safe as we are down to win 27pts at home and 12 away; that gives us a grand total of 60pts!

Fantasy? Maybe. But the analysis is supporting this fact. Given the teams we have played so far, we were perhaps expected to do poorer in the first half of the season; the initial analysis back in August doesn’t take account of that, just the end of season position. So if we can make KM a fortress, as WAG hope we can, we certainly appear to have a chance; then we just need 3pts away.

With a target of 53 points, our margin of safety is just 7pts which is 3 game results and a relatively fine margin. But it was always going to be that fine a margin by the end of the season.

These statistics do at least give us a modicum of hope of maintaining paradise …

// Jim Potter – @JamPot44