Minute-by-minute table: Championship 2015/16
Today I’m updating one of my more off-the-wall regular pieces, looking at how different the league table would be if matches finished earlier. These usually tend to generate a few comments which begin with “If my Auntie had…” but I think they’re an interesting way to identify teams who tend to start or end matches unusually well or badly.
What I’ve done is to calculate what each club’s league position would have been if only goals scored up to a certain minute counted, starting with the first minute and going all the way through to the 90th (where we rejoin reality). I’ve then drawn a line for each club to show how their league position would change if you did this.
This creates a lot of data points to visualise – 24 clubs multiplied by 90 minutes (I roll injury time into the 45th and 90th minutes for simplicity) – so rather than a static image I’ve used an animated GIF to cycle through each club in turn. This shows every club in descending order of their final league position, on an infinite loop with each frame lasting two seconds.
I appreciate that most people will want to look at their club for longer than two seconds in every 48, so if you click the graphic it will bring up a version in a new tab that can be paused, rewound etc (hat tip to Ben Huxley for showing me how to do this).
Without further ado, here it is:
Hopefully it’s obvious what’s going on: the horizontal axis is the minute at which you artificially stop the clock in every match, divided by the lines into five and 15-minute segments, and vertically you have league position in descending order with the automatic promotion, play-off, mid-table and relegation places highlighted.
Not every club’s line is particularly interesting, but I’ve picked out a few of the wackier ones below.
Despite putting in arguably the division’s best underlying performances this season, Hull missed out on automatic promotion after failing to turn their dominance into a proportionate number of points. It looks like they did themselves no favours by starting games poorly: their record for most of their first halves this season was more akin to a lower mid-table side than a title challenger, although they tended to find another gear at around the 35-minute mark. From that point on they quickly started to look a lot more convincing, but perhaps they’d already be a Premier League club if they’d been able to break opponents down a bit more quickly.
If matches ended after 36 minutes, Sheffield Wednesday would be 20th
One of Hull’s fellow play-off challengers started matches even more poorly: with just over half an hour on the clock Sheffield Wednesday were one of the division’s worst-performing clubs, but they also tended to get their act together sharply as half time approached. They look to be a side that finishes matches strongly, looking more and more convincing relative to the Championship’s other clubs as time wore on. In fact only champions Burnley have a better second half shot conversion rate than the Owls’ 13.8%.
If matches ended after 47 minutes, Reading would be in the play-offs
It looks like there were plenty of jovial half time intervals at the Madejski Stadium this season, with Reading’s first half showings giving the appearance of serious play-off contenders. However their fortunes tended to spiral sharply downwards shortly after the break, with the Royals often running out of steam by the hour mark. I’ve checked the stats and they rank worst for both second half shots converted (5.7%) and the percentage of their opponents’ efforts which ended up in their net (14.3%). If all of their games had ended after 43 minutes then they’d have finished the season with 63 points: 11 more than the 52 they ended up with.
If matches ended after 56 minutes, Leeds would be relegated
While Leeds ended the season in a respectable league position, there often wasn’t much for their fans to enjoy until the last half an hour. For the first hour of their league matches they mainly looked like relegation battlers, with their fortunes dramatically improving as games drew to a close. They managed to gain 10 points between half time and the final whistle, which in a congested bottom half is the same as the gap between their eventual tally of 59 and the 49 accrued by 21st-placed Rotherham.
I’ll produce versions for the other Football League divisions later this week.