And the first team I think will be deemed as a surprise this year…
If you haven’t seen these bubble plots before I explained the concept here but basically, higher = better team, further right = more luck, bigger bubble = more points, brighter bubble = more extreme goal difference (green = +ve, red = -ve).
Newcastle were ok last year, they ranked 9th in the Premiership in terms of TSR (link) but they had a few things going their way. For example when was the last time you saw a team pick up two new strikers who each scored 10+ goals in a Premiership season? If you genuinely believe that Pappiss Demba Cisse will continue to score 0.93 goals per game then you’re the sort of person I love to bet against.
They overachieved basically. Ironically this is the one summer when Mike Ashley should have cashed in on the squad but probably won’t. The smartest transfer sales occur when a team sells players at the peak of their value. Newcastle have a very recent example of this working perfectly (hello Andy Carroll). I’m not sure we can expect Cisse, Ba, Cabaye or Collocini to ever be worth more. Now Newcastle fans will probably pillory me here but Pardew has shown the ability to identify cheap talent that will help your team once so why would he not be able to do so again? Repeat this cycle a couple of times and there’s a lot of money to invest into the squad all of a sudden.
The table below includes the projections based on those comparable teams (as well as the max and min points expected from their performance) as well as their expected performance based on their total shots ratio (TSR) and shots on target ratio (STR) from last season.
So 46 points (and closer to the relegation zone than the European places). Would many people be surprised by this? If it comes to pass I imagine the blame will fall on a) tiredness/lack of focus on the league due to the European games and b) a small squad.
Finally here’s a reminder of how the predicted table stands to this juncture, based on the ‘comparable’s’ model.
The comparable’s for Newcastle are: ’08-09 Blackburn (41 points in year ‘0’, 50 points in year ‘1’), ’07-08 Sunderland (39, 36), ’08-09 Portsmouth (41, 28), ’08-09 Aston Villa (62, 64), ’10-11 Stoke (46, 45), 03-04 Everton (39, 61), ’03-04 Portsmouth (45, 39), ’01-02 West Ham (53, 42)