Minute-by-minute table: Championship, 2016/17

Today I’m updating one of my more off-the-wall 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, 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’ve also gone for a minimalist look to keep load times down.

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.

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 (I’ve rolled injury time into the 45th and 90th minutes to keep things simple);
  • Vertically you have league position in descending order with the top four, 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.

They may have coasted over the finish line but it’s been an impressive season for Huddersfield. However their record at half time this season is far more modest, with a points tally below 60 compared to the impressive 81 they finished with. If you had stopped every match as late as the 89th minute they’d have finished this season in a still-respectable 9th place on 73 points, meaning that they ground out eight points and four league places during the final minutes of their games (plus injury time).

If every match had finished half an hour early then Alex Neil might still be in a job and Norwich would be bouncing straight back into the Premier League. The Canaries were one of the division’s two best performers as late as the 66th minute and still good enough for a play-off place with 10 minutes to go. The 89 points they would have finished with if goals stopped going in after 54 minutes was eroded to 70 by the final whistle, so a better strategy for defending leads is needed for next season.

Barnsley started matches really well this season: if you stopped every game just before half time then they’d have been looking at a second successive play-off finish. However the wheels tended to fall off shortly after half time: the tally of 66 points they’d amassed by the 43rd minute of all their games combined drops to 52 in the 76th minute, although they clawed back a few with some strong finishes.