Fulham's Path to Promotion - 15 Matches to Go

Discussion in 'Fulham FC News and Notes' started by MicahMan, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. MicahMan

    MicahMan Administrator

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2014
    With a strong run since defeating Sheffield United in December, Fulham has put themselves in excellent position to qualify for the playoffs and they have an outside chance at earning automatic promotion. In this post we’ll look at what Fulham needs to do to accomplish either option. In the coming weeks we’ll monitor their progress and provide updates. But before we get to that, let’s take a moment to put the season into context.

    2017-18 vs. 2016-17
    Fulham has managed to exceed last season’s performance to-date, despite facing injury challenges in 2017/18 that were avoided last season. With 31 matches completed Fulham is 3 points ahead of last year’s total and 3 spots higher on the table. We were 6 points outside of the playoffs and 16 points outside of automatic promotion at this point last year. This year we are in the middle of the playoff spots and 7 points outside of automatic promotion.

    Last year’s bid for the playoffs required a scintillating finish from the team getting 16 out of 18 points in the final 6 matches. Fulham finished with 80 points beating out Leeds, who had 75 points, for the last playoff spot. In any other Championship season 75 points would have been enough to qualify for the playoffs, but Leeds was on the unfortunate end of an incredible finish by Fulham. This season, Fulham have done well enough that a good, but not necessarily heroic, finish will see the team into the playoffs.

    Point Targets for Playoff Qualification and Automatic Promotion
    Based on the results from this millennium, 75 points is the target to ensure playoff qualification (unless you are Leeds). To reach automatic promotion the goal is 88 points. Ten out of the past 17 seasons have seen the second place team reach 88 points. Only once in the past 17 seasons has 88 points not been enough to earn automatic promotion – that was in 2015-16 when Middlesbrough and Brighton and Hove both had 89 points. Middlesbrough won automatic promotion based on goal differential.

    88 Points Will Get You to The Premier League
    championship_2nd-3rd.png
    Getting to 75 points for the playoffs is certainly within reach, but what about the 88 points for automatic promotion with 15 matches left?

    Getting to 88 Points in 15 Matches

    Fulham currently has 52 points. That means they’ll need another 36 points, 2.4 Points Per Match (PPM), to reach 88 points. In the second half of the season Fulham has had 6 wins and 2 draws for a blistering 2.5 PPM. Fulham would have to nearly maintain that pace to reach 88 - closing out the remaining 15 games with a record similar to 11 wins, 3 draws, and 1 loss. While I’d like to remain positive about our chances, I don’t think that is a realistic scenario. There have been times when the team that earns automatic promotion has gotten less than 88 points, but it would seem that Derby or Aston Villa are likely to reach that goal.

    Getting to 75 Points in 15 Matches
    Reaching 75 points is a much easier path requiring only 23 points, about 1.5 PPM. Fulham’s form wasn’t great in the first half of the season, but even then they managed 1.4 PPM. So Fulham would still likely make the playoffs with a relatively disappointing finish of 6 wins, 5 draws, and 4 losses.

    The Remaining Opposition
    Fulham is about to enter a tough three week span from February 17 to March 10. Over the next 6 matches Fulham will face all of the teams in the top 8 who they haven’t already played twice. It starts with Aston Villa followed by Bristol City, Wolverhampton, Derby, Sheffield United, and ending with Preston.

    The average points per match of our opponents (adjusted for home and away records) during the next six matches is 1.74 with 5 teams over 1.5 PPM. For the games after March 10 it is only 1.24, a full half point lower with only 1 team over 1.5 PPM.

    After the Next 6 Matches Things Will Get Easier (looking at season PPM adjusted for Home/Away)
    fulham_ppm_2018.png

    We can also look at the outlook by charting each team’s PPM over the last eight matches (not adjusted for home/away form).

    Things Might Not Be As Easy As We'd Like (looking at PPM based on the past 8 matches)
    fulham_recent_ppm_2018.png
    The picture looks a little different when recent form is considered – Aston Villa (match 1) is on an amazing hot streak, Norwich (match 8) has been looking stronger, while Bristol City (match 2) has been sinking. This is also a more challenging outlook. Using the metrics on the first chart we only faced 1 team with over 1.5 PPM after March 10, but using the metrics on the second chart we have to face 4 teams with a PPM over 1.5 after March 10. On a whole, the picture looks much the same with an average 1.75 PPM over the next six followed by 1.25 PPM for the rest of the season, but the individual matchups are tougher when recent form is considered.

    The Outlook
    The next six matches will show if what kind of team Fulham truly is. If they lose four or more then Fulham’s recent streak was due to mostly favorable matchups and we’ll have to bounce back strong to reach the playoffs. If Fulham comes out even – 2 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses – or slightly better then we can say that Fulham is a near certainty to be in the playoffs. If Fulham gets five wins then they will be an automatic promotion contender.

    Regardless of the outlook, these matches must be taken one week at a time and now the focus must be on Aston Villa.
     
    #1
  2. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Location:
    Peoples Republic of South Texas
    Good solid analysis, my acceptance of which shows that I've been hopelessly overoptimistic about us finishing second. I think making the playoffs is very likely; indeed, it'll take a major collapse for us not to do so.

    The key, of course, is that intangible known as "the Big Mo." I thought we had it last season. If we DO have it this season, this should be our year.
     
    #2
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  3. astroevan

    astroevan Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2013
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Thank you for this analysis. It is exactly the type of thing that I often do for myself. Your results are much more presentable however, and I didn't spend a ton of time on it.

    Cardiff play their game in hand today (vs Bolton) and Derby kickoff match week 32 away to Sheffield Wednesday. We'll know a bit more about our primary competition by dinner time.

    On to Villa...
     
    #3
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