This came as quite a surprise to me given Southampton’s recent resurgence. Back at the start of December I wrote:
|“Southampton are probably going to make a fist of this. They’ve done ok against the toughest opposition that any team has faced this season. Their next four fixtures (Reading, Sunderland, Fulham, Stoke) provide the opportunity to bank some points, and things could be looking much rosier come the New Year. Their sh% may fall slightly but that should be more than compensated by an increase in sv%. There’s reason for quiet optimism amongst Saints fans.”|
Lo and behold the seven games since then have returned ten points, and they now sit at a point per game pace.
Currently their TSR is 0.406, i.e. not great. However linear regression suggests that a 0.406 team should finish the season with 40 points, and the average points scored by the 15 teams with the TSR closest to 0.406 is 39. In other words what we’ve seen from Southampton to this point is pretty close to their true talent.
I’m struggling to see the upside for the board here. Adkins had achieved two successive promotions and by all accounts I’ve read the fans enjoy the style of football being played. If they subsequently go down it’ll be a PR disaster, and the best they can realistically hope for is an incredible run that still only lifts the team into 11th-14th place.
Basically I’m suggesting that, whilst not being one of the better teams in the league, and sitting exactly where a shots model would expect them to be, the chance of them being relegated this season were pretty slim. In essence they need to be as good as one of the three teams immediately below them in the table