View from the Kingsland: The Strange Season Continues

View from the Kingsland: The Strange Season Continues

by Nick Mabey.

It’s the beginning of April and we still have a quarter of the league season to go.  Thanks to the World Cup every team has at least ten games to play and some as many as 13, when normally it would be five or six.  Normally by this time of year there’s much more clarity about who’s finishing where, but not this year. While the premier league title looks like a two-horse race, the battle to stay up is anything but.  

My beloved Southampton have been propping up the division for so long it feels like we have taken root there. History tells us that almost always the team bottom at this stage will go down, especially when they are so welded to the basement. And yet, and yet…we are still in touch with safety and each week we threaten to break out of last place without ever managing it. 

Only four points separate the bottom nine teams. Relegation battles are almost never this democratic. Supporters of all nine teams will be able to make a compelling case for why their team is definitely going down (it’s the nature of being a supporter).  But they can’t all be right.  By comparison it feels rather freeing to be a Saints fan right now. We’ve been bottom so long that we’ve kind of made our psychological and emotional peace with relegation already, to the extent that now survival would be a surprising bonus. Of course, we are going down, it’s just a matter of whether it’s with a whimper or a bang and when the death certificate gets issued.  And yet, and yet…

If we look at the form table there are reasons for hope. Taking form for the last ten games and applying it to the final ten, sees Southampton staying up in 16th place with 34 points and Leicester, Bournemouth and Palace going down. By that measure Wolves end up 12th on a very healthy 40, followed by Forest and Everton. Hooray, we’re safe. As I wrote in one of my earliest pieces for In Common, it’s the hope that kills you. 

When I did this calculation I had to double check Forest because 13th seemed too high. They had some good wins a while ago, including the oh-so depressing night at St. Mary’s in January, but they are currently in free fall. So I looked at form over the last six games and applied it to the next six, taking us to the end of April.  This shows a table before the last four games with Saints even more healthily placed in 15th, with Leicester, Palace and Forest in the relegation zone. So my head is telling me that we are still very much in touch and it is all to play for.  Meantime my heart has already prepared for the worse and my guts are sure that points on the board matter most.  In other words, we are going down.

Notes for the detail-oriented on both these analyses:  Firstly, some teams have more than 10 games left.  Secondly, I didn’t bother with goal difference.  Both of these factors would take some of the gloss off the pictures I’ve painted.

The ability to predict what happens next is not made any easier by Saints’ strange ability to play well against the better sides and badly against the worse ones. In our next six games we play both title contenders, Man City and Arsenal, which should be cause for some alarm but somehow isn’t.  In the same spell we have the proverbial ‘six-pointers’ against fellow strugglers West Ham, Bournemouth and Palace, which should be a cause for hope but is bizarrely not. Simply, if we won these three particular games we would be well on the way to a great escape but you can be pretty sure we won’t (I am so trying to invoke Sod’s law with that line!).

Finally, I can’t leave the strangeness without a word on our cup runs this season. Who manages to beat a full-strength Man City convincingly with a much derided and now sacked manager in one cup, and then contrives to lose to struggling league two outfit Grimsby with a popular, new, galvanising manager in the other?  It’s been a strange old season and we shouldn’t be surprised if there are a few more twists and turns to come. 


  • To read all of Nick’s View from the Kingsland columns, click here.


  • In Common is not for profit. We rely on donations from readers to keep the site running. Could you help to support us for as little as 25p a week? Please help us to carry on offering independent grass roots media. Visit: