As we enter the the last eleven games of the season we have a much better idea of how likely the top two is, how likely the play offs are and how likely relegation is. Ignoring deviation (which I know distorts the results) the average number of points achieved by the team finishing 2nd in this division over the last five seasons in this 86. 6th place had an average of 74.8 (let's call it 75). The average number of points the fifth from bottom team achieved was 50 and two thirds (50.6 recurring - let's call it 51).
We currently have 48 points with 33 to play for. That means that we must finish on between 48 and 81 points. Realistically that makes the automatic places beyond our reach. However in 2006 Colchester (with a Mr Phil Parkinson in charge) finished second with 79 points above Brentford in third with 76 points. Thus, potentially, we could have won automatic promotion with 77 points - a massive four points less than we still could achieve. That means that we could lost tomorrow night or draw tomorrow and at Bournemouth and still go up without the need for the playoffs.
The 75 that I suspect we would need to make the playoffs would only require that we only win nine of our remaining eleven games. Certainly if we win them all 81 points would be enough (the maximum a sixth placed team has achieved is 80, and that was last season. I would also suggest that if we go into the playoffs on the back of an eleven game winning run we would have to be considered the 'form' team and I would be confident of a successful conclusion.
However, I am not all that confident, as things stand, that we are going to win our next eleven games, or nine of them for that mater. So we find ourselves looking down. First the good news, we are only one win away from having the magic 51 points that would be enough to keep a side up in four of the last five seasons. One win and a draw would be enough to keep us up in all of the last five seasons.
The bad news, however, is that if all the teams below us manage to replicate their last six games over the next six the team forth from bottom would have 46 points - we have 48 and have to go to Walsall in the penultimate game of the season, and they managed 9 points in their last six games - they are nine points behind us and are currently forth from bottom.
The biggest worry for me is that we haven't looked like winning a game since Parkinson left (despite winning four that we had no right to) In fact if you take those twelve points away, or even make them four (i.e. four draws) we have managed just 9 points since the 20th of November, fully 18 games. If you assume we'd lost all four of those games (and from what I saw we could easily have done so) we have managed five points from 18 games. Scary stuff eh?
You can see why I'm no longer looking at MK Dons remaining fixtures can't you? Our average points haul since 20th November is 0.94 per game. The good news, however, is that there are four teams with a worse average during that time than us. Sadly this doesn't take into account the 12 points we won with pure luck. Take them away and we have the lowest return in the league for that four month period.
So, on that basis I think New York Addick might well be in the money with his hedging on us being relegated. It looks like we have enough points with eleven games to go, but if we perform as well (and get what those performances deserve) as we did in the last eleven games we are going to be very close when the fat lady opens her throat.
In some respects it makes the end of the season more exciting. Sure it's not the kind of excitement we had all hoped for, but exciting none the less.
This is, of course, assuming that Chris Powell doesn't have any special tricks (or Jedi Skills) up his sleeve to snatch two wins out of that eleven. Who knows, anything can happen.
Southampton have never been my favourite second team, and the way they knocked their debt a couple of years ago still annoys me, but right now (post Pardew) they are nothing more than another game in which we can look to secure the magic three points we need this season. I don't want to be too greedy, I'd take a point tomorrow night.
In fact, I'm not sure I would turn down a 2-0 defeat right now our goal difference is better than Walsall and Dagenham and Redbridge, but a couple of 5-0 defeats and that would all change.
There is so much doom and gloom about right now it's difficult to feel any enthusiasm for the club or the football that we have been watching - hardly the best time for the club to asking for season ticket renewals, but we are where we are.
I will be there tomorrow night, I am not exactly looking forward to it, but who knows, maybe we will play well and win - stranger things have happened.
Up the Addicks!