I’M NOT BETTING AGAINST CANARIES FLYING IN
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…