A couple of weeks ago it seemed like it could be a cheap laugh to outline the number of points we needed to be absolutely sure of staying up and to subsequently monitor the inevitable trend towards the sensible as the total needed had to fall. (In truth, it was a move born out of desperation to get away from the never-ending uncertainty of this division.) Only problem is, it seemed less of a laugh as each game passed by with the total required just refusing to budge (the only thing that did move was our points-per-game requirement to meet the notional target). With nine games remaining 20 points would see us safe on 67; with eight left 20 would see us safe on 67. Even after beating Bolton on Saturday (when defeat would have left us out of the bottom three only on goal difference), given the other results it still meant 67 required, or 17 points from seven games.
Finally, glory be, the bar has been nudged a little lower. The best Huddersfield can now manage is 65 points, so 66 and there’s no doubt about it. But that’s three rounds of games gone, just six remaining, and still a plainly daft figure to guarantee survival. We just need 15 points from our last six games. I have nothing against any of the teams currently in or around the bottom three, but can they please just lose on Saturday and make this silly exercise the mild fun it was supposed to be? I realise Huddersfield host Peterborough, so a draw there coupled with our win against Leeds (well, winning home games is now par for the course isn’t it?) and the target drops to 64, or for us 12 points from five.
Somewhat more scientifically, it’s interesting to note the changes in the percentage chances of going down with various points tallies provided by the website I’ve used before. A couple of weeks back and it suggested that with 52 points you had a better than even chance of staying up, with a 40.9-46.3% chance of relegation. That site now indicates that with 52 you would have a 78.5% chance of going down. Previously real comfort came with 54 points (only a 2.9-5.7% chance of getting relegated), while 55 and you’re risk was below 1%. Now 54 and you still have a 17.4-22.2% risk of the drop, with security requiring 57 points, only a notional risk with 56, and not much danger with 55 (3.2-5.0%).
I also realise that Sir Chris has been quoted after last night’s game as saying “I don't think you can put a points tally to get because I feel it will keep going; you look at the number of sides that are bunched together and it will be tight all the way; we can only care about ourselves.” He’s absolutely right of course, but he’s under obligation to say sensible things. The rest of us are at liberty to indulge in idle whimsies. But what he surely would agree with is that the chances are at least one team, possibly three, are going to end up going down feeling mightily aggrieved.
I can’t comment on last night’s game. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in staring at the BBC site updates and just hoping not to hear on the radio ‘there’s been a goal at Brighton’. Call me a pessimist, but I wasn’t ready to back it being in our favour. And I’m glad I only heard about the stoppage time events after knowing the game had finished goalless. But just from the other reports it was a bloody gutsy point won and, while inevitably there’s a bit of fortune involved in all games, it’s fair to say that the character and resolve of the team is still showing through. Last season, in different circumstances, they produced the results required when the pressure was on. Given recently the draw away at Peterborough followed by winning at Huddersfield, now a vital home win followed by a splendid away draw just as the gap from the bottom was getting seriously narrow, and you can say the same. Credit all round. Just keep that going.
My partner Suzanne returned to France yesterday, happy to have shrugged off her Jonah tag (she has seen us win in previous seasons but this one had been dry) and full of English lamb. She can I trust keep me up to date with Lyon Duchere’s final run-in as the promotion picture in France’s CFA Group B has produced a few more twists. Having been in pole position to take the one automatic place, Mulhouse have stuttered with an away defeat followed by a 0-0 home draw. Duchere themselves managed to end their mini-slump with a 2-0 home win over Nancy II, but there seem to be now six teams in with a decent shout as leaders Genoble have lost two of their last four. They still top the table but have played one more than the most of the others and two more than some. If all these games in hand were won, Grenoble would drop to sixth, with Mulhouse moving into pole position from fifth at present.
With nine or 10 games left for most, it’s still up for grabs. This weekend Duchere travel to Villefranche, who could provide some neighbourly assistance (they are midtable with nothing to play for), while Grenoble go to Moulins, currently third. But no, I’m not so sad as to start working out points totals required for Duchere. This one will just have to run its course.