Stats confirm what Pompey fans already knew

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler
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So the number crunchers have predicted Pompey will finish outside the play-offs.

Stats-based website this week told us the Blues will finish ninth in League One.

There are 17,895 supporters who didn’t need an algorithm to realise such an outcome is on the cards last Saturday.

Their eyes were the only tools the Fratton faithful needed to conclude their side are not in a position to contend for a place in the end-of-season shake-up.

Yes, the gap to the top six is still just four points. But does the average Pompey fan feel optimism roused within when assessing the league table? Or a pang of frustration at an opportunity missed?

Even considering sides with games in hand, the fact Kenny Jackett’s Blues are sat not too shabbily placed in 10th after a dreadful start to the year does raise the question: Where would they be now with some decent form?

Eight points from 10 league games since the turn of the year has seen Pompey in the worst form of the campaign at exactly the time they need to build a head of steam.

The Blues boss is keen on statistics and analysis – and is well aware 75 points is the threshold associated with making the play-offs at this level.

The average figure sides have needed to hit over the past decade pushes the magic number to 76.

With Pompey currently sitting on a 49-point haul from 35 games, you don’t need to be Statto from Fantasy Football to know they need to markedly pick up the pace.

You have to go back to the 2009-10 season for the last time a team finished sixth with north of 75 points.

Huddersfield (80 points) being the team to do so. Since then the figure has been south of 75 points.

A look at the mean amount the sixth-placed side was sat on at this stage delivers an average of 52.2.

With Plymouth currently in that place on 53 points, that suggests this season is broadly in line with what’s happened in the seven seasons since the 09-10 anomaly.

So, taking 75 as the target, would leave Pompey needing to deliver 26 points from their remaining 11 games.

Breaking that down further sees Jackett’s side needing to return 2.36 points per game. Their points-per-game rate this year is 0.8.

Considering picking up two points per game across the season usually gets you into the top two, it’s clear the kind of run required by the struggling Blues: better than promotion form.

Ironically, the return needed now is almost exactly the rate they were flying along at through November and December. The seven league wins and two defeats up to December 30 produced a return per game of 2.33 points.

In the wake of failing to grab a midfield reinforcement on deadline day and the loss of seven players to injury and suspension since, a return to such results is a long way off.

For the criticism he’s faced lately, the one place you can go for an honest and measured assessment of Pompey’s position is their manager.

So it was revealing this week brought a slightly different tone to some of his rhetoric, as he broached the prospect of a campaign finale with no narrative.

‘I’m desperate the season doesn’t just peter out,’ Jackett admitted.

‘It’s about chasing for as long as you can and never giving in. It then becomes about building for future seasons.’

That immediate future could see Pompey going directly up against sides still in receipt of £90m-worth of parachute payments, if Hull and Sunderland’s struggles end in relegation.

It all points towards the Blues finishing the campaign nestled in the comfortable position we all said we’d be content with. But that doesn’t stop a tinge of regret when considering what could have been.