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Man United for the Carling Cup!

By Phil Roberts :  27/12/2008 :  Comments (24) :
As with Peter Fearon?s occasional writings on Everton?s performance comparing last season with this, I keep a similar record, but also for the other 19 clubs in the league. So the half time report for us is, let?s all hope United win the Carling Cup as that will give a Uefa Cup spot to the team in 6th ? and that is likely to be where we will finish.

Based on the same results in the remaining games as in last season?s matches, then the league would finish as shown in this projected final table [pdf file]. It does seem to have become the big 1, let alone the big 4! United will finish well clear of Liverpool ? who despite all the bravado are only doing as well as last year! Obviously they have had the easier part of their fixture list! The real question is will Chelsea and Arsenal continue to slide as Villa improve and so they break the Sky 4 monopoly?

It looks like we become increasingly secure in 6th as Portsmouth have now dropped 8 points in the last 7 games so could slide even further back. Villa ? on the same remaining fixtures last year picked up 36 points, we picked up 29. So if we are to make it past them we need 42 ? which is close to Champions form, and that is as unlikely as us signing a world class striker in January. So 6th it will be.

As we all know, our home form has been awful, and this is confirmed that we are 7 points down at home but the away form is exactly the same as it was last year for the corresponding fixtures.

As for the rest of the league, can we believe 8th would be West Ham with less than 50 points? Remember Walter?s first season when we were 13th with 50? The bets for relegation? Hull are bottom still ? but 21 points better than Derby. However they have now gone 4 matches matching Derby?s performance, so maybe they are stalling, but still should be safe. So West Brom, who are matching Reading, and Sunderland seem to be in danger, along with Blackburn who are down a massive 15 points on last season. However, look out from Boro, who have slumped 8 points in the last 4 games and now down to 40 points. But given it is only 12 points between 8th and 18th, then this is really looking like a season where nothing is certain.

And now I wait for all the comments that last year is no guarantee of this year blah blah? but all I add is that about 40% of results are the same from one year to the next, so perhaps a better method than most but still with imperfections.

Reader Comments

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Michael Kenrick
1   Posted 28/12/2008 at 18:25:56

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Err... forgive me but Hull bottom with 32 points?!?!?! They already have 27... which means just 5 more in the entire second half of the season? So lowest points... yet you say they will be safe?!? Am I missing something?
Anthony Dyer
2   Posted 28/12/2008 at 19:04:09

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I would rather compare our position after 20 games last season to this. At the moment we are one point worse off than this time last year, but closer to the top 4 than last time out. Our second half to the season was not the best so we have room for improvement. However our need for a striker may still cost us. But given the attitude and lack of altitude in our recent games we may well surprise ourselves. At least we have something positive to aim for.
David Kennedy
3   Posted 28/12/2008 at 20:42:34

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Liverpool finishing 11 points off United?

I’ll take that right now, thanks very much!!!!!
Paul Niklas
4   Posted 28/12/2008 at 22:35:16

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Utter rubbish, we will challenge all the way for fourth and at the end there will be hardly any difference between 4th to 6th.

Not sure if you watch Everton or not but Villla are no way that far ahead of us, indeed they are no better than us, and I am convinced we can finish ahead of them.

The rest of it does not add up basically, Hull will certainly get more points than you suggest, indeed possibly at least 15 more, which by definition, changes everything else.

Everton will finish 5th, worst case... and potentially grab 4th, we have as much chance as Villa ? that's for certain.
Alexa Dunne
5   Posted 28/12/2008 at 22:29:21

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It?s interesting to read, and while I?m not sure the method works too well (MK makes a valid point as Hull getting only 5 more points seems a bit unlikely) I?d like to see how the prediction compares to the end result.

Last season we had a major slide of form in the 2nd half. We also had a table that seemed more solid from the beginning, this year has been so tight points wise. I?m seeing the consistent "top half" teams starting to get their groove ? Everton, prime example. If we stay more consistent in this new found form, we?ll do better than last season. We have only the FA Cup left, other teams have extra fixtures, hopefully that plays in our favor. I firmly believe we have a solid shot at taking fifth.

And who knows: maybe Moyes can work some magic and get a star signing this January :) That could only help I think.
Phil Roberts
6   Posted 28/12/2008 at 23:32:51

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Yes Michael, you are missing something. I do not guess what results could be ? only what the results were in the same fixture as last season. So as 3rd promotion team, Hull get the results of Derby (and West Brom have Reading?s and Stoke have Birminham?s) and they only would pick up 5 points. It seems that they will do considerably better and climb up the table ? but I don?t do wild guesses. And as Derby were so unbelievably poor, then it makes the system less reliable. The rest of the league does not suffer the same problem.

And for us - 19 games where we got 36 points last season ? and this time only 29. So in the games where we got only 29, so presumably the tougher ones, do we think we will pick up over 35?

And Alexa, the only two Premier League teams in the Carling Cup are United and Spurs - which is why we want United to win it. All our other rivals are already out as well.
Malcom Rowan
7   Posted 28/12/2008 at 23:49:00

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Uefa Cup football is not what we want. 4th place and Champions League is the better prize, mate.
Alan Kirwin
8   Posted 29/12/2008 at 01:04:58

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Mambo Jambo bollocks. Predictions, like horse races, are a loser’s game.
Alexa Dunne
9   Posted 29/12/2008 at 01:29:40

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"And Alexa, the only two Premier League teams in the Carling Cup are United and Spurs - which is why we want United to win it. All our other rivals are already out as well."

Ok... didn’t realize it was just two, but knew it wasn’t many. I was primarily talking about the prediction of the league table. wasn’t really thinking about the carling cup and 6th. Was in a rush and had my roommate distracting me while I typed.

To clarify: when I said extra fixtures, I meant through all competitions, though admittedly I haven’t been paying attention to Uefa, Champions league etc. so don’t know who is in or out of those, I’m just hoping that any extra games (more than we have) will affect other teams performances and give us an edge to beat this prediction.
James Wilheim
10   Posted 29/12/2008 at 02:41:18

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Malcom Rowan

"Uefa Cup football is not what we want. 4th place and Champions League is the better prize, mate."

I concur
Dave Wilson
11   Posted 29/12/2008 at 07:43:20

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Or... we win at Villa AND we beat Arsenal at GP, then we only need to keep doing better than those two.

Everton are probably the most improved team in the league over the past 6-7 weeks, Howard has got his head right, the defence is mean again and whether you believe DM decided upon or was forced to go with the current formation, our midfield is looking both classy and industrious; if we can just get sorted up top, targeting a CL place would hardly constitute mission impossible.

I know you were only having a bit of fun, Phil, and I liked your article, but Pompey will do very well to stay in the Prem this year... and this is an example of where your system falls down, you don't seem to legislate for any improvement or decline in a club's fortunes.

Mark Stone
12   Posted 29/12/2008 at 10:35:48

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I understood what hapenned with Hull, Phil. Even if others didn’t :-)
Steve Edwards
13   Posted 29/12/2008 at 10:43:38

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Great article Phil... love all this wondering where we?ll finish stuff. We all do this especially when we are on a good run. I think some people have taken it a bit to serious though. I do agree with you and think that we?ll finish 6th, simply because we are better than what's below us. I don?t think we are a better team than Villa (Sorry but I think they have a bit more about them, especially in the pace department) and both they and Arsenal have plenty of dosh to spend in the transfer window.
David Alexander
14   Posted 29/12/2008 at 13:20:20

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I think you have been playing a little to much on Football Manager...
Stephen Ferns
15   Posted 29/12/2008 at 12:59:47

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Good Article Phil. I think many people don?t understand that what you have done. I take it you have a keen interest in stats! I understand that you have taken the results so far this season and then used last years results to give a picture of what the final table will look like. I know that Hull use Derby?s results and so are entirely unrealistic.

I think that your table can show what the current does not show. Namely, the fact that some teams have been through a tough run of games and done well (Villa, Man Utd, Fulham) and that how well they have done is not necessarily reflected in the table. Whilst some teams are riding high in the table, because they have had a comparatively easier run of fixtures (Chelsea, Us and Arsenal).

Your table shows that our recent pick up in form has coincided with playing teams who we beat last season and so we are not really clawing back the points we had lost early on this season compared to last season. Now we will move in a tougher period of fixtures and it is important to pick up points in these games to catch Villa. The table shows that Villa should easily crack 65 points and that we need to pick up 9 points on last year?s fixtures to do the same. This table is not meant to be a predictor, but more of an indicator. The fact that we are 13 points off Villa in Phil?s table shows how hard we will find it to catch them.

The table also shows that West Brom, Sunderland and Middlesbrough are the teams in trouble, which are the three I would agree with. Looking at the that table, if Hull can get another 10 points on top of Derby?s 5 for the last 18 games then they should be safe on 42.

Blackburn are struggling big time, but Allardyce will sort them out and they should replicate last season?s points and achieve safety. But that table really sums it up. They have to play at last season?s standard just to stay up!

I hope that you keep us updated as the season progresses, Phil.
Anthony Dyer
16   Posted 29/12/2008 at 15:52:51

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If we achieve the same results in the remaining 18 games as last season in the corresponding fixtures

Home W7 D2 L1 Pts 23
Away W1 D3 L6 pts 6
we would end up with 61pts which may get the Uefa Cup spot.
Paul Niklas
17   Posted 29/12/2008 at 16:33:43

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So, Anthony, our away form is going to demise in the second half of the season from seven wins to one? I actually believe we will get at least three/four more away wins than that and push all the way for the fourth spot.

As I have said before, the difference betwen Everton and Villa is the game at Goodison, which in my opinion we were the better team and should have won it.

It's a three -way race for 4th and we have as much chance as the other two, I would even go as far to say we have more chance than Villa.
Adi Waid
18   Posted 29/12/2008 at 20:06:05

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Under the new format Europa League from 2009 the FA Cup runners-up won't take a place if the winners are already in Europe. This place will go to the next in the league. So this means 7th may be enough...
Adam Payne
19   Posted 29/12/2008 at 21:44:04

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looking at the fixtures in the second half of the season and a recent improvement in form (particulalrly at home), I have us finishing on around 63 points - god knows where that will put us. This of course depends on injuries and transfer activity :)

Arsenal continue to wobble and I think Villa will tail off so could be very interesting.
Graham Smallwood
20   Posted 30/12/2008 at 07:23:04

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One look at your league table and I'm not even reading the rst of this garbage. coyb
Chris Brigden
21   Posted 30/12/2008 at 07:27:27

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This article is rubbish, what a stupid league table. Hull bottom of the league???
Chris Dooley
22   Posted 30/12/2008 at 19:09:43

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Unfortunately, I think we?ve left it too late this season to get fourth. Our post-Christmas fixtures will allow Villa to create an unassailable lead. We will still be able to catch them in theory but I think by then it will be too much to ask. I sincerely hope I?m wrong.
James Boden
23   Posted 30/12/2008 at 21:55:15

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As much as I dont want Judas to win anything, I'd rather United win the League Cup as it frees up a league space for Europe and it would be a travesty to see Spurs, who?ve been shite for 18 months or so now, get into Europe through the backdoor again.

Now onto us. We are on very good form and, if we?d got our just deserts against Villa, not only would we be top of form table, only goal difference would separate us, Villa and Arsenal. As it is, we?re 6th on 32 points, 4 clear of Wigan. It?s important we beat Hull in a few weeks, cause then we've got Liverpool, Arsenal and United all in one. Although I'd be expecting to get something out of Arsenal cause they appear to be in disarray then hopefully if we get a point from one of the other two ( preferably Liverpool), then that will stand us in good stead. Then, after United, over the next couple of months we will have a run where all the games are winnable.

In January, I'd sign a few players, even if on loan, as we will need a bit of back-up. But at moment ive been very pleased, not just with the results but the improved performances. Howard, Lescott, Arteta and Cahill have all rediscovered their form and Jagielka, with the exception of 1 horrendous mistake vs Villa, has been magnificent all year.

And a fact worth looking at:- in the 7 games that Yakubu has been missing this season, we have picked up 16 points, the same amount as the 13 he?s played in. Is that a coincidence? As I've said before, I believe he is a luxury we can't afford. He expects the ball to be played right to his feet, and at Everton we don't do that, you have to work hard. He?d do fine in a side like United?s I'm sure, but at Everton has laziness can cost us, as was shown on two occasions this season where his bone idleness resulted in losing us goals. which in turn cost us 4 points.

And at the time he got injured, he?d scored 1 goal in 11 games. That is a very poor return. At least when Saha is fit he offers us workrate, and as proved against Spurs can give defenders a hard time. Yakubu on the other hand makes it so easy for them. Now I'm not suggesting we sell him as he?s a goalscorer, the trouble is he?s inconsistent. And as bad a blow as his injury was, it may turn out to be a blessing in disguise because the quality of football has improved and we aren?t faring to badly results wise, in fact ? even in front of goal given our resources at this current moment.

I do not see us finishing top 4, as Villa seem to have the momentum and Liverpool like luck at this current moment. However, I believe we can finish top 6 and really we are in a good position to do so now, as teams we?d consider our challengers, Pompey, City and Spurs are a fair distance off. But then with a good or bad run things can turn...

But at the moment things are looking up for The Blues, let's just hope they stay the same, and PLEASE PLEASE, the FA Cup would do nicely. Oh and one final thing:- Please let someone thats not The Red Shite win the league.

Ian Smitham
24   Posted 31/12/2008 at 00:06:20

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For the sake of completeness, can anyone else confirm that if Man U win the Carling cup and are in the Champions league players via the Premier position, that the 6th place team in the Premier get a Uefa Cup spot ?

Much as Champions League is the holly grail, based on the enthusiasm and interest of the last couple of Uefa Cup campaigns along with the fact that Wigan seem now to be our greatest threat, I wondered what the position (no pun) is?

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