Statisticians can make a case for most things depending on what they want to say, exactly, but the stats telling the tale of our own club are pretty compelling no matter how you look at them. And it’s fair to say that of all the clubs in the Football League, Leeds United are the ones punching the furthest below their weight as things stand.
CAPTION: Elland Road
Of course, you already knew that, right? But a quick glance at the Championship betting reveals Leeds as low as 11/2 to be relegated with some bookmakers at the time of writing.
This is a sad indictment on the current set up, although sometimes things have to get a whole lot worse before they get better. It’s also a very useful and very objective “statistic” in its own right. The saying “money talks” means the markets usually read things correctly and, therefore, relegation is a very real – and highly ignominious – prospect.
Also, if you glance at the all-time Premier League points list, what’s telling is how up to date it is.
Generally speaking, the clubs topping the list over the life of the Premier League since its inception in 1992 are, on the whole, still the top clubs of today. But there are two notable exceptions in the shape of Blackburn Rovers and Leeds United.
In Blackburn’s case, the explanation is easy. If you took out the anomalous seasons during the mid-1990s when Rovers were big spenders courtesy of Jack Walker’s millions with Kenny Dalglish at the helm, Blackburn would probably be around the top end of the Championship or lower end of the Premier League.
And it’s interesting to consider if there is something of a “natural order” of English football over time.
There probably is as clubs tend to “revert to mean” over time. So if you think about what are, by tradition, the biggest clubs in the country (Man United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Everton, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa, Newcastle United and Leeds) then Chelsea don’t belong where they are. Clearly, they’re punching well above their long-term weight due to Roman Abramovich bankrolling the club.
But the same cannot be said for Leeds. And even if we argue that more recent stats should be given greater weight – and that nothing much beyond half a century back counts - then Leeds are, in fact, even more below their natural place in English football’s pecking order.
CAPTION: Is there light at the end of the tunnel for Leeds United?
But the good news about reversion to mean is that this is reason for optimism not pessimism.
Other big clubs like Wolves and Man City had to plumb greater depths than we’re now in before bouncing back.
So gradually, over time, clubs do tend to revert back to their mean position.
This, in turn, means the period we’re currently in is the anomalous one – and that Leeds’ revival is statistically inevitable.
Quite how and when this will happen is another matter of course – but the glory days will come again.