The Football League Paper - - INSIDE -

AT the start of the sea­son, a friend of mine (a pro­fes­sional econ­o­mist) built a sta­tis­ti­cal model to help him bet on foot­ball.

By the end of Au­gust, he was win­ning money hand over fist. And even though his suc­cess rate has suf­fered a nasty dip since Christ­mas, he’s still more than six grand up. Not bad, eh?

His method? He mea­sures statis­tics which – in his opin­ion – in­di­cate whether one side is likely to beat an­other. This boils down to the num­ber of shots on tar­get, with ad­just­ments for goals con­ceded, pos­ses­sion and the dis­tance from which those shots were taken.

Any­way, about six weeks ago, he told us to put a bet on Nor­wich to win the Cham­pi­onship.

How we laughed. The Ca­naries were sev­enth, couldn’t string two wins to­gether and had just jet­ti­soned a manager.

Now, af­ter five wins in five games, I’m start­ing to wish I’d taken his ad­vice. Ten points adrift of top spot when Alex Neil re­placed Neil Adams on Jan­uary 9, Nor­wich go into to­day’s show­down with bit­ter ri­vals Ip­swich just six be­hind lead­ers Derby.

The goals are fly­ing in, es­pe­cially from Cameron Jerome. Only Wat­ford have outscored them dur­ing Neil’s brief reign, and that thanks to a 7-2 victory over Black­pool.

Bournemouth have been slain. So too Wat­ford and Wolves. The rest of Nor­wich’s di­rect ri­vals all visit Car­row Road be­fore the end of the sea­son.

Not only is it do-able, it has been done. Three years ago, Brian McDer­mott’s Read­ing were fifth af­ter 32 games, six points off top spot. At Christ­mas, no­body gave them a hope. Yet by April they were cham­pi­ons.

Should this rock­fall of vic­to­ries turn into an avalanche, Nor­wich could fol­low suit. And the next time my mate gives me a tip, I prom­ise to pass it on a bit ear­lier…

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