Column: The magic figure required for Owls to clinch top six-finish

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When I interviewed Glenn Loovens in the summer of 2014 for our Kick Off special, one thing he said in particular struck me.

Given the Owls skipper has played in the top divisions of Spain, Holland and Scotland, it surprised me when he described the Championship as the “toughest league in the world”.

Glenn Loovens says the Championship is the toughest league in the world

Glenn Loovens says the Championship is the toughest league in the world

The second-tier of English football is definitely a crazy, unpredictable division and quite possibly the hardest in Europe to get out of. You have to grind out results and quickly adjust to the rigours of playing Saturday-Tuesday-Saturday so perhaps Loovens has got a point.

It must be a bookmakers nightmare.

As Wednesday prepare to embark on the final third of the season, I thought now would be the time to take a closer look at the points they are likely to need to obtain a play-off spot.

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Clubs in eight of the past 10 seasons have required a points total of 72 points or more to secure a top-six finish. With 16 matches left, Carlos Carvalhal’s troops are well on course to surpass that magic figure. The Owls have averaged nearly two points per match in their last 23 league fixtures.

Only once since the play-offs were introduced in the 1989-90 season has a team finished in the play-offs with less than 70 points. That was in 1990-91 when Middlesbrough finished seventh, qualifying for the end of year shoot-out with 69 and four sides were promoted to the old First Division.

I know for a fact that Wednesday’s hierarchy have not given up on clinching automatic promotion. The table suggests they have still got an outside chance of going up via that route. Carvalhal’s side are only seven points off table-topping Middlesbrough.

The average points tally needed to finish runners-up in the last decade and book the second automatic promotion slot is 86. (86.2 to be precise). Watford finished second on 89 last term.

If the average is maintained this season, the Owls would need to win 12 of their remaining 16 matches. There is little margin for error and, on paper, it appears a big ask, particularly as Wednesday have a tricky looking run-in. Five of their final eight matches away from Hillsborough are against sides in the current top 12 but you would be foolish to write off Carvalhal’s team.