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Thursday, April 03, 2008

Where's Peter Shirtliff?

With just a single solitary win in the last 10 games, only 5 games left to stage a comeback, and the massive mountain of four points separating us from a Play-offs place, ( its taken us the last 7 games to accumulate 5 points ), the situation has already lead to several interesting seasonal analysis and debates on what's gone wrong. Drastic calls for Pardews head as a solution have not been infrequent while conversely the board just given him their vote of confidence. We couldn't afford anyone else anyway.
Perhaps its too early for the inquests but who can be surprised at the reaction when our expectations were obviously so high. We've all been proved far too foolish to expect so much so soon and we even believed that all we had to do was turn up to win every single game. It hasn't worked out like that at all and other teams have obviously enjoyed taking our ex-Premiership attitudes to the cleaners.
For many people the answer has been to look backwards to get some reality to what is happening to us but that does tend to fill us all with to many sentimental nostalgic dreams of what used to be.
The stark reality is that currently there's only one team below us, Colchester - with one sorry point - in the last 8 game form guide with just pathetic 5 points from the last 8 games.
But, perhaps remarkably, there's still one stat in which we lead the field. We have still scored first more times than anybody else. Twenty-three times out of 41, one more than Watford, West Brom, Hull and Stoke and there's only three teams that have scored more points than us after going ahead.
So what's gone wrong? Scoring first shows our attacking attitude and potential and with our 56 goals only 5 teams, West Brom (78), Stoke (63), Hull (59), Watford (58) and Ipswich (58), have outscored us.
But to find the reason we have to dig deeper and look at those games more carefully for although we have got 49 points from those 23 games perhaps its the points per game that is most revealing. Just 2.13 points per game after going ahead and there's 15 other teams that have got more points per game after going ahead. Is it that 15 other teams are more resilent on hanging on to a lead than the Addicks?
Perhaps to explain what's wrong with the Addicks this year we should compare ourselves with another team getting almost the same points per game after going ahead: ie Stoke City. They've scored first 22 times and got 48 points in the process so pretty equal with Pardew's lot.
But what of the other games, the occasions when we've gone behind. After taking 0-0 draws into account that's 17 in our case and 14 in the case of Stoke.
When our opposition scored first we managed a meagre 7 points from 1 win and 4 draws. Only 4 teams, Preston, Barnsley, Leicester and Scunthorpe have a worse record.
But what of second placed Stoke? Well, here is the difference between 11th and 2nd place. Fourteen times the opposition have scored before Stoke have but that doesn't seem to upset Tony Pulis's boys. They've managed 16 points in those 14 games with 4 wins and 4 draws. That's collective mental strength that only players like Peter Shirtliff would understand.
So Pards. Lack of resilence after scoring first and no mental strength to overcome a deficit. Says it all really and no amount of technical ability is going to overcome those two major liabilities.
So need we bother to turn up on Saturday? One win in our last 10 away games and 4 failures to score in the last 6 will lead to most people doing the DIY or messing about in the garden. The sorry ones will be remembering last May at Anfield and dreaming of a revival now that the pressure is, in some ways, off.
OK, call me sorry, but hope, and oncoming madness, springs ever eternal. 2-1 to the Addicks.


Chris said...

I am a regular reader of this blog (though I've never posted a comment before) and always enjoy trying to interpret the range of statistics you produce. I don't know what database/source you use or how long you spend putting this stuff together, but for this regular reader its always good value. Thanks!

That said, I'm always cautious when drawing conclusions. Its often tempting to make bold inferences when what we see in the data is simply "noise". Another interesting stat concerns our record against the bottom two teams in the division. We took two points from our games against Colchester and Scunthorpe whilst the top six have taken between 9 and 12. Add seven to ten points to our total and the table would look very different. This might suggest that far from failing under pressure, the issue has been performing against teams we ought to beat. An honest Bristol City fan on 606 last Saturday talked about another late winner and another lucky win and he got me thinking. We've won 8 homes games this season and I honestly believe they've all been richly deserved; not a single "lucky" win. I don't think we've had a lucky draw either; Wolves and Preston might have been, but having equalised against the odds in both games we then gave it away again!

I'm not sure how you explain our disappointing season. Perhaps there is no simple explanation. What I do think though is that the margins between success and failure are wafer thin and a real problem has been that we've scored very few "cheap" goals; we've had to work hard for everything. Not having a natural goalscorer hasn't helped obviously. We don't seemed to have scored our "fair" share from set pieces either. By contrast, Watford, Bristol C and WBA all scored their equalisers at the Valley from a set piece. Those goals cost us six points. It is interesting to note that the two goals in our only win in the last ten came from a Halford long throw and a corner!!

Where does this all leave us? Looking forward to next season and more analysis and speculation I guess!!

Well done on a good blog



charlton north-downs said...

I second that