Liverpool are well and truly choking on their Premiership title dreams, yesterday dropping points to an Everton team in dire straits on and off the pitch. It’s a shame for Jurgen Klopp; a man who is on everyone’s ‘I’d like to be best pals’ wishlist, because I think most feel it’d be great for football if he won something huge.
Liverpool has spent well, the football vision is exciting, but it’s starting to look like this season might be a little beyond them. Pep G’s winning machine – supported by my best pal – looks like it’s just finding its winning gear, whilst Klopp’s is sputtering like an office shredder you’ve accidentally dropped a Darren Anderton autobiography into.
It’s interesting to read the excuses coming out the of the club, Klopp classically lambasting the wind definitely up there with anything Wenger cited in his latter years. I also think it’s amusing reading around the Liverpool fans, excuses ranging from HE’S A FRAUD, which I have to say is outright one of the most pathetic critiques spouted online. It should be a hate crime to call CR7 a fraud, yet all the kids say it everytime he doesn’t score a hattrick. RONALDO A FRAUD DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE WORD. PEP G A FRAUD ARE YOU JOKING?! GET IN THE BIN YOU VIRGIN.
Back to the post… the other twist on the Klopp choke I read was, ‘well, he could finish as a record-breaking second placed team.’
Intriguing, because my initial reaction to hearing this was: PFFFFFTTTTT!
That did get me thinking because there’s a lot of referencing yesteryears points totals when trying to ascertain current progress.
Would anyone really be happy with a record-breaking second place? Is that like the Buffalo Bills making 4 Super Bowls? Can points totals year-on-year be used to ascertain success?
I have to say, I wasn’t sure about this.
Does 90 points carry the same value in 2019 as it did in 2015?
Are the smaller teams getting better, thus making high points totals even more spectacular?
Does comparing two different league seasons, where so many variables change, really act as a good barometer for progress or success?
Can you really be classed as a choking meltface if you break 90 points?
I spent some time thinking about these important questions. I dug around the hard numbers instead of dropping a factually loose hot take, which would usually be my preferred weapon of choice. I was surprised by what I found.
The difference between 6th and 7th felt like a good place to begin my investigation to ascertain if the league really was getting better.
Points gap between 6th/7th
2012 to 2017, the average difference was 5 points. This season, despite all the praise Wolves and Watford are receiving, the difference between Chelsea and Wolves/Watford is a whopping 13 points. If anything, it would appear from this data point that the league is getting less competitive below the top 6.
In 2012, Newcastle were in the top 6. Everton in 2013 and 2014. 2016, Leicester won the thing and Southampton were 6th (unreal).
The last two seasons have seen a return to normality. The big clubs are occupying the big spots. This season looks set to follow the same trend. The league doesn’t seem to be getting better across the spectrum, it’s getting better at the top as the mightiest concentrate power by doubling down on better players and elite coaches.
So from a Liverpool perspective, can you really say that a record-breaking 2nd place is an achievement? Maybe. In fact, probably. NO, I’d say you certainly can.
|League Year||1st/2nd Gap||1st pts Total|
The points total for winning the league has really ramped up over the past two seasons. City dropped 100 points last year with a 19 point gap between 1st and 2nd, the average gap the preceding 6 seasons was only 6.3 points. If both City and Liverpool take 22 points from their last 9 games, they’ll finish on 93 and 92 points. Liverpool would have closed the gap, no doubt, and really, after the utter dominance of last season’s City, that’s a good thing for the league.
Can you call a team that breaks 90 points bottlers? Absolutely. It’s hilarious to do so because journalists who have lost touch with the realities of fandom write op-eds about how terrible this sort of analysis is… bit like me with the word FRAUD. But, the reality is, it’s hard to call anyone reaching 90+ points a bottler. That’s league winning numbers. It’s incredible consistency, skill, hard work, fitness and focus. It’s paper thin margins at this level, a point difference at the end of a season is not a coin toss between world class and BOTTLE JOB. It’s luck of the draw.
Additionally, a points progression for Arsenal would be a notable achievement because we were 9 points off 7th, and whopping 12 points off of 4th place last season. I think it’s looking like it’ll be very tough for us to make #Top4, but if we’re within spitting distance, Emery will be able to point to Ozil and Ramsey struggles and he’ll probably be able to pull together a sizzle reel of Mustafi playing his Nintendo Switch at corners that’d likely make a good case for investment delivering a higher position.
Just some extra numbers, because why the hell not. The average points total for the wooden spoon has been 25 points over the past 7 seasons, the outlier being Villa finishing with 17 points the year we downed them in the FA Cup.
Despite common consensus, the league isn’t really getting better, I think it’s just a perspective thing. Watford and Wolves are the new Stoke, Everton and Southampton. When they drop a result against a mega team, you feel like you’ve never seen it before, even though you have, it’s just you’re used to a different colour kit for your upsets.
I’m basically saying you’re stupid and I am clever because I have a really good spreadsheet.
Also worth remembering that if Liverpool drop 90+ points, they’ll have jumped over 15 points in a single season. If Monchi comes in and works the transfer market really well, there’s really no reason for us not to expect similar levels of progress.
The competitiveness of the Premier League is also exciting when you look across Europe and what Champions League money has allowed big clubs to do. This from Rory Smith.
In the Belarusian Premier League, BATE Borisov has won 12 titles in a row. In Switzerland, Basel has swept the last eight. In Bulgaria and Scotland, Ludogorets Razgrad and Celtic have been untouchable for six. In Croatia, Rijeka won the championship last year. But the previous 11 had all gone to Dinamo Zagreb.
These are no longer title races. They are now simply processions, their result almost preordained, entire seasons stripped of drama and intrigue.
Over the last five years, Olympiacos has received more than $125 million from its Champions League appearances. Basel has brought in $68 million. BATE, thanks to three appearances in the group stage, has earned $50 million, and Dinamo Zagreb $55 million.
So even as we chant BOTTLE JOB MUGS at our southern scouser friends at work today, just be thankful there’s a race this season, and maybe excite yourself at the thought that they were in a poorer position squad wise than us when Klopp took over.
Right, that’s me done. See your sexy faces in the comments. x