The Slow, Sad Truth of Somebody Else's Season.
12 games without a win.
That's over a quarter of a season.
We're getting to the point where the last victory is known by date rather than opposition.
This isn't what was meant to happen. It was meant to be a season of win one, lose one, draw one, in sequence, and bob along without causing any ripples or drama, neither rocking boats nor having our own boat rocked. This is somebody else's season, surely? We're living the lives of Nottingham Forest, or of Ipswich Town, or of Blackpool, aren't we?
No. We're not. Huddersfield Town have not won any of their last 12 league games. That's a cold, hard fact. Some of those games have been drawn (5) and some lost (7). Some have been creditable (Palace away) and some embarrassing (Leicester C, Watford). Woe is Huddersfield Town. Woe are we. Woe is our season.
41 teams have had longer runs without a win in the second tier since we went to three points for a win. They range from 11th placed Fulham in 1983/84 (12) to rock bottom Cambridge Utd the same season (31). It isn't, necessarily, the disaster you might think. Yes, failing to win games is not the ideal situation. I've covered that before. If you have a game, the best outcome for you is winning it. Its been proven. It is also true that the road through longest runs without a win is littered with the bodies of relegated teams. There are those teams who raged, raged, raged against the dying of their particular light and fell, bravely, in the bright summer sunshine (Crewe 04-05, say), and there are those teams who flopped like a house of cards, and had the sea of relegation wash them away before their embers were even cold (Cambridge Utd 83/84). They do not make happy reading, any of them, but there are valedictory tales within the gloom. There is still rhubarb to be pulled from this darkest of sheds.
Not all teams left us. Not all teams woke up, blinking, into the bright lights of League One after sleep-walking through the spring. Some, after rising from their slumber, dusted themselves off, regained erstwhile focus and braced themselves for an assault on the upper reaches of the league. Some, mortally wounded, limped through the following season, leaving through the trapdoor to Tranmere after another twelve months.
If I turn to the graph, then, there's something 'slightly' encouraging. Look at the average Points Per Game of the teams I've been looking at. Its pretty stable around 1.00 (1.07 overall, if you really care) which, if it doesn't tell you that Town will certainly be safe, certainly tells you that they might be.
The more I've looked at these figures, and the more seasons I've looked at, these runs seem to be aberrations that occur in the seasons of teams who are poor. Not necessarily awful teams, but not particularly good ones. I'd also point out that there's a difference intrinsic in the gaps there. If you get to 16 games without a win, you're looking down the barrel of a fairly unpleasant season; not only are the bars a little lower, but the frequency is such that the figures would be really easily manipulated if, say, the Burnley team of 06/07 got 57 points despite not winning for 18 games - they did.
Worryingly enough, this is Town's fourth appearance on this list. To look at those seasons in a little more detail makes grim reading (GWW = Games Without Win; GW = Games Won; LP = League Position). That white bar needs to rise, while the blue one needs to stop rising.
What am I saying, then? Well, the figures around such runs in the past are not, nor could they be, glorious. I was, however, surprised to see how many teams who had gone more than 10 games without winning had avoided relegation; how these extended blips occurred in seasons that, while disappointing, didn't end the way it might have felt during the run. All hope is not lost, Huddersfield Town. Just win a ruddy game, please.