Coming To Terms With The Championship - A
Its been a pretty good start to the season for Huddersfield Town, seventh spot - and higher before - suggests the squad has acclimatised quite well to the new challenge of the Championship. Its made me quite happy, and that's probably why I've not been posting so much - I don't need to worry about the numbers; they've been looking after themselves. We've reached a point now, 14 games in (or 15, depending on when you read this) where we have an idea how the season will pan out. So I want to look back at some precedents and see how Town are performing in their context.
I've taken the league records of promoted teams from 1997/98 until today (the thinking being that it was 15 complete seasons and the current one) and come up with a couple of observations and conclusions. If, in this post, I look at the points per game ratio of the teams who arrived in the Championship through the playoffs, you'll see something pretty obvious, and pretty encouraging, too. Only one team earning promotion through the playoffs has performed over 46 games better than Huddersfield Town have so far (albeit over only 14) and I don't know if we can include Manchester City as being a 'normal' second tier team, though it was long before the Sheikh-era City we have today. Either way, being second on that list at this stage is encouraging indeed, I would say. The average figure for those teams is 1.252 points per game - 58 points - so Town have another 37 points to gather to reach that level (at 1.15 points per game, that would represent a drop of 0.487 per game from current form). Positive signs despite a bit of a 'blip' recently, I'm sure you'll agree.
That's all well and good, but 2/3 of the teams who were promoted into the league were not promoted via the playoffs; they came automatically. There is something particularly interesting here, and too big to show on a graph. Only one team promoted to the second tier since 1997/98 have maintained a better Points Per Game over the season than the season in which they were promoted. Stand up, (once again) Manchester City in 2000. Beyond that, the best figure is, you might well guess, Southampton's from 2011/12, who saw their PPG fall by only 0.087 from the year they were promoted. Second on that list is Reading, who dropped only 0.109 the year after their promotion (they finished fourth). Fourth on that list (third!) is Huddersfield Town 2012/13 - 0.118. Incidentally, if the game against Blackburn is lost, that figure would rise to 0.228 - which would still be good enough for fifth (behind Colchester Utd, oddly) but it shows how few teams have been able to push on once in the Championship. Indeed, Town's fellow promotees, Charlton and Sheffield Wednesday are in the bottom five teams on -1.196 and -0.950 respectively (though there's an element of them being victims of their own success last season involved in that, of course).
What does this tell us?
It tells us that Huddersfield Town have made a very good start to their season but that, historically, evidence points to the fact that it won't last - indeed, evidence points to the fact that the longer it goes on, the less 'usual' it is.
Here's to a strange season, then!
NB - This is just a short post, and represents the first part of a 'coming to terms with the Championship' series I will be writing over the next few weeks. I will try and keep them short, though, and tackle just one aspect in each post.