We’re getting to the point where even the most optimistic Aston Villa supporter is having their belief in their club reaching the play-offs tested. After getting in a handful of what would be top end players in the Championship in the summer, with a new manager and owner, it felt like the reset button had been pressed and promotion from the Championship was a realistic ambition.
It didn’t work out, but then we got the mooted Championship promotion king in Steve Bruce, again there was to be no sustained upturn in fortune.
“If we can string three wins together we’d be right back amongst the play-off spots” we’d kid ourselves. Any burst of results that came, Bruce had us three points off the play-off spots at one stage, wasn’t maintained.
There is still hope amongst fans, but not according to SAM.
SAM aka Sports Analytics Machine, is the super-computer built by Ian McHale, professor of sports analytics at the University of Salford and his colleague Dr Tarak Kharrat.
As reported on BBC Online (see full story here), the computer was given the task of predicting the result of every Championship match between now and the end of the season on 7 May.
It maintains that Newcastle and Brighton will fill the automatic promotion spots at the end of the season, but most human brains would come to that conclusion.
In terms of the play-offs though, these were the most likely teams:
Will your team finish in the play-offs?
Leeds United – 72%
Sheffield Wednesday -72%
Derby County – 56%
Reading – 53%
Huddersfield Town – 41%
Norwich City – 31%
Fulham – 23%
(% probability calculated by SAM)
Villa? SAM calculates they will finish 12th on 64 points after 46 games and gives them a 6% chance overall of making the play-offs.
6%? It’s not looking good…
How these things tend to be calculated though, tend to rely on what has gone before. As the BBC writes:
‘SAM takes into account a wide range of factors to work out match results, looking at average performances so far and calculating what that means for the remaining fixtures. It is based on players remaining fit and continuing with their average performance levels.’
So Villa can obviously improve on that 6% chance by bolstering their squad with the right players in January, getting Kodjia and Ayew back, and quite frankly by stop messing around in the remaining games of the season.
After spending over £100m in the last two summers compared to what most other clubs in the Championship are able to spend, you’d expect the play-offs to be a bare minimum to the ambition of this season.
It’s interesting that the computer doesn’t take notice of such spend and reputation, it just boils it down to the fact Villa just haven’t been good enough.
There’s still time and Villa need every wake-up call they can get, even this one from SAM.
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