A League 2 blog with an overwhelmingly pro-Torquay United bias
If the Football League ever decided that it needed to save a few weeks in the fixture calendar, one option would be to dispense with the playoffs and instead analyse the records of the four teams who finish in the playoff zone against each other. I’m not for a minute suggesting that they do this, given the drama and excitement that the playoffs provide, but some may argue that this is a fairer way to determine which of the four is most deserving.
I thought about this approach when wondering which of the teams in League 2 I’d most like Torquay to face, as well as who would be likely to prevail, and here’s what it would look like for this season:
As you can see, everyone seems pretty evenly matched with the exception of Stevenage, who look ill-equipped to make it two successive promotions. On the basis of this flimsy analysis Accrington, who face Boro, should make it through to the final against Torquay, who have an impressive scoring and defensive record against their fellow playoff hopefuls, largely due to the 5-0 hammering of their semi-final opponents Shrewsbury, which you think I’d be tired of mentioning by now. If Gulls do narrowly triumph as this suggests, I’ll obviously be incredibly happy.
Let’s have a look at the other two divisions, starting with League 1:
Another close one to call, with the league’s most despised club (at least until Crawley Town lurch onto the scene next season) MK Dons looking the least worthy of progression. They’re up against Peterborough (of #106leaguegoals fame), who should have enough to edge past them before meeting, and narrowly losing to, one of the almost inseparable Bournemouth and Huddersfield (who drew in both of their league encounters) in the final. This table says that Bournemouth can make it two successive promotions, but I expect most people’s money would be on Huddersfield after their massive unbeaten run.
And here’s the Championship version:
So Swansea and Forest appear the two most deserving sides of the four to achieve the most money-spinning promotion in the world, but they’re pitted against each other in one of the semi-finals. Reading and Cardiff are equally difficult to separate, but following this to the letter (or rather the number) would see a Swansea v Reading final, with the Welsh side running out winners by a small margin given their low scoring record.
While this approach utterly fails to address several crucial factors, form for one, it does serve as a crude benchmark for how the playoff contenders match up and who has the best chance of victory. As always with the half-formed concepts I ladle onto these pages, make of it what you will!