Crunching the numbers ahead of City’s new Championship challenge
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As the new Championship campaign moves into view, David Freezer takes a look at recent seasons to work out the points targets for Norwich City ahead of their attempt to bounce straight back to the Premier League.
Leeds may have eventually finished 10 points clear as they savoured their title joy in July but this season’s Championship contenders know just how difficult the Yorkshire giants found it to finally climb back to the top flight.
Marcelo Bielsa’s team had just fallen short of Norwich and Sheffield United in 2019 prior to play-off heartbreak but bounced back impressively, finishing first on 93 points, a point fewer than the Canaries had managed the previous season - to end 16 years outside the Premier League.
That total, 93, is the average achieved by the champions of the second tier in the past 10 seasons as well.
Leicester triumphed with the highest total of 102 in 2014 - four short of the record haul of the Reading team back in 2006 - but Cardiff managed to lift the trophy in 2013 under Malky Mackay on just 87 points.
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So if Norwich want to bounce back in the best possible style, it’s that average of 93 that they need to be aiming for, but Daniel Farke and so many of his squad know all about what it takes to pull off that success.
To achieve that a team needs to average just over two points per game, 2.02 to be exact, so that’s a good gauge for title success as the season progresses.
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Of course you don’t need to finish top to earn a place in the top flight, with second place also sealing promotion - as Paul Lambert’s City team of 2011 managed straight after their elevation from League One.
That Norwich squad went up as runners-up to QPR on 84 points but the average final tally for second place during the past 10 seasons has actually been a little higher, at 88.
The most was 93 - the same as which made Leeds champions last season - as both Brighton in 2017 and Burnley in 2014 went up in second place with a high total.
The fewest was achieved by Hull, going up in second place on 79 points during a very competitive 2012-13 season, which saw Peterborough relegated despite managing 54 points.
So for second place and promotion, clubs can target that 88 point average, or maintaining progress at just over 1.9 points per game.
We all know the play-offs can be a bit of a lottery, as shown by Huddersfield in 2017 when they managed to secure promotion during their end-of-season campaign despite their only goal being an own goal, winning two penalty shoot-outs.
The average to finish sixth and qualify for the play-offs during the past 10 seasons has been 74 - although last season Swansea edged in on 70 points, overtaking Nottingham Forest on goal difference on a dramatic final day.
In 2017 Fulham finished sixth on a huge 80 points but during the unusual 2012-13 season it was Leicester in sixth on just 68.
So if clubs can’t manage to be competing at the summit of the division, 74 is the target, or just over 1.6 points per game.
What about if it all goes wrong though and you’re mixing it at the wrong end of the table?
Even teams who have come down from the Premier League can keep dropping like a stone and go straight through the Championship, as shown by Sunderland and Wolves during the last 10 years.
Well, if your team is averaging around 0.96 points per game then it’s time for alarm bells to be ringing - as that means they’re on course for a total of 44 points.
That’s been the average total of the team finishing 22nd during the past 10 seasons, with that unfortunate Peterborough team of 2013 filling the last relegation place with a high return of 54 - but three teams finishing in the same position on just 40 points.
It’s not an exact science. Teams can make brilliant starts and nosedive down the table, as Norwich know from experience at this level in the past, and equally slow starts can give way to a late surge all the way to the Premier League.
It’s all about shaking off that hangover for the Canaries to start with though, knowing that only seven teams have bounced straight back to the top flight during the past 10 Championship campaigns - and that only two of them went up automatically.
PAST 10 CHAMPIONSHIP SEASONS
1st - 93
2nd - 88
6th - 74
22nd - 44
1st - 102 (Leicester 2014)
2nd - 93 (Brighton 2017, Burnley 2014)
6th - 80 (Fulham 2017)
22nd - 54 (Peterborough 2013)
1st - 87 (Cardiff 2013)
2nd - 79 (Hull 2013)
6th - 68 (Leicester 2013)
22nd - 40 (Rotherham 2019, Charlton 2016, Portsmouth 2012)