Failing slightly less badly

26 May 2009

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After Newcastle’s relegation on Sunday, John Motson trotted out the well-known cliche about what ‘an unforgiving league’ the Premiership is. It’s hard to see how you can reach this conclusion. The bottom five clubs – a quarter of the teams in the league – all failed to manage to average a point a game over the entire season – which let’s face it means that they have played extremely badly since last August. They’ve won between seven and nine games out of a possible 38.

Disclosure, as they say: the five include Sunderland, whom I support, lucky to stay up after some poor results and worse performances.

In fact, having a quick look across Europe’s league tables, using the ‘point a game’ yardstick, this year Spain is the most competitive (‘most unforgiving’) league, with Italy, France, Turkey, and Portugal less forgiving of under-perrforming teams than the English league. Only in the German league could you play worse this year with better outcomes.

On the final day of the English top division, only one of the five, West Brom, who were already relegated, managed not to lose. as most of the games went according to league form. As Harry Pearson put it recently in a piece on Middlesbrough’s impending relegation, re-phrasing Gore Vidal: ‘When it comes to surviving a relegation dogfight it is not enough that we fail – others must fail worse.’

The picture is from the website Who Ate All The Pies?

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