After my last post suggesting that Leeds have never been worse than they are now (statistically), many people laughed it off as nonsense; “worse than our relegation season? I think not”. True, that wasn’t the point I was making, I meant since our return to the Championship we’ve never had this few points after 31 games. But let’s scratch that itch and look at how we compare to our relegation season.
The basis for comparison is going to be after 31 games because that’s where we are now. Nothing subjective about games we nearly won or decisions that didn’t go our way, just an objective comparison of the cold hard data. “It’s not fair to do this now, wait until the end of the season!” I hear some of you cry. To that I reply that yes, doing this after 46 games would be the most conclusive assessment, but 31 games is plenty of time to assess whether we’re a good side or not. Hell, the Premiership is only 7 games more than that for an entire season.
Leeds are currently 16th place with 37 points, from 8 wins, 13 draws and 10 losses. In our relegation season (2006/07) we were anchored to the bottom of the table, 24th place with 30 points (from 9 wins, 3 draws and 19 losses). The table for both sets of data is as such:
What assessment can we make of this information?
- Leeds have more points (+7)
- Leeds have won fewer games in 2015/16 (-1)
- Leeds have drawn far more games (+10)
- Leeds have lost far fewer games (-9)
- Leeds have scored fewer goals (-5)
- Leeds have conceded far fewer goals (-22)
- Leeds have a much better goal difference (+17)
The two sides are very different in how robust they are. Where the current Leeds side has less attacking threat than the relegated one, we’re much better at holding firm and defending a game.
How would that Leeds team fair today?
Due to the poor quality at the bottom of the table in this 2015/16 season, the relegation Leeds side wouldn’t even be bottom. They’d be in 21st place, 4 points above the drop zone. They wouldn’t even have the worst goal difference, with Bolton (-22) and Charlton (-30) equalling or improving on Leeds’ already grim benchmark.
We were relegated with 46 points (prior to a 10 point deduction for administration once relegation seemed a certainty). In the 2014/15 season, 46 points was enough for them to stay up (albeit in 21st) and it’s possible again this season. As such the 2015/16 Leeds aren’t at real risk of relegation if we keep up this current level of performance.
Are Leeds that much better this season?
If we’re honest, no. Points are what matter at the end of the day; it principally doesn’t matter if we have a -40 goal difference but still get 90 points (you could lose one game 50-0 and then win the next 30 1-0). Leeds 2015/16 only have 7 points more than the relegated side that we consider our worst ever. 7 points over 31 games is not the ‘day-and-night’ difference some would have you believe there is.
Of course we’re better in that we concede less and we lose less; in fact the data just supports that Leeds need to have stronger attacking options. That relegated side won more games and scored more goals – a concerning statistic however you slice it. We might be much better defensively, but in points terms we’re only 0.23 points per game better off. Essentially, for every 5 games we’re earning 1 more point.
With such fine margins comes fragility; it probably wouldn’t be difficult for Leeds to lose that many points if we have a poor end to the season.
But Steve Evans has us playing okay from time to time – Boro was a great performance lacking quality in front of goal. We’re not in any real risk of relegation and we are (in my opinion) much better than that dreadful side I watched almost a decade ago. But looking just at hold card statistics? Not that far apart.
This is why “progress” needs to be objective. Playing subjectively better football but still not winning points isn’t helpful and that feels a little bit like where we are now.