WHEN push comes to shove Sheffield Wednesday face an enormous task to keep their Championship status.
It may be stating the obvious that the Owls are in a deep hole as they sit second bottom and likely to stay in the bottom three even if they win at fellow relegation candidates Barnsley on Saturday, but the sheer size of the challenge ahead of them shouldn’t be underestimated.
Currently on 15 points after 21 matches following the defeat at home against Bristol City when Miguel Llera’s altercation with referee Andre Marriner may have prevented a last-minute equaliser, Wednesday are on pace that will undoubtedly see them return to League One.
A figure of 50 points to survive is often thrown around at the start of the season as a target for clubs.
But how accurate is that total? It is bang on the money.
Since the 2002/03 season when Wednesday slipped to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1980 on four teams have finished fourth bottom with fewer than 50 points.
Two of those had 49 points - Hull (2006/07) and Crystal Palace (2009/10) - and two had 48 points - Barnsley last season and Doncaster the one before.
For those that say the only importance is to finish a fraction ahead of the third bottom team and not to worry how that is achieved, then of course that is true. However, it’s worth noting that since 2003 the three seasons where just one point or goal difference separated third bottom from fourth bottom the relegated team had 50 (Gillingham 2004/05), 51 (Walsall 2003/04) and 52 (Leicester 2007/08) points respectively.
Where does this leave the Owls? In short it makes for depressing reading, unless they can string together a run of form that - if taken over a full 46 game season - would be good enough for comfortable mid-table security.
It seems a minimum of 35 points are needed from 25 matches. That works out at 1.4 points per match. A doubling of the return from the current 0.7 points per match.
But if anyone can inspire an Owls run Dave Jones can.