The once unreal prospect of AFC Bournemouth and the Premier League living together is slowly becoming real. With 24 games gone and 22 to go the Cherries sit proudly at the summit of the Championship. How will the second half of the season unfold? Will AFC Bournemouth be sitting up there with the giants of English football for the first time come the 2015/16 season?
In just six years the Cherries have risen from the bottom of the fourth tier of English football to within striking distance of the greatest prize in English football. We all know the story of the Cherries rapid rise, even the youngest fans will have been there to witness the resurrection. As I sit here writing this very sentence I still can’t quite believe what has happened in such a short space of time.
Before this season started a top 10 finish would have a realistic option for many. The more optimistic would have been looking at the play-offs
If I pluck a season from the past out of the air and look at six seasons after, or even before, there will be little stir the imagination on the same scale as the current success. Let’s keep it fairly recent, say 2003, the year when we built the new Dean Court. What happened in the 2003/2004 season? Not a lot, but we had just won the play-offs the previous season to get back to ‘where we belonged’ the third tier of English football.
The Cherries finished 9th and we beat Notts County away 1-0, exciting stuff. But this is the sort of thing a Bournemouth fan looked forward to. In the 2004/05 season we finished 8th, one point outside of the play-offs, 2005/06 it was 17th followed by 19th and 21st and relegation in the 2007/08 season after failing to beat Carlisle on the final day of the season. We could pick out a few more years, but we think you get the picture.
Before this season started a top 10 finish would have a realistic option for many. The more optimistic would have been looking at the play-offs, but only a small minority would have been looking at automatic promotion and an even smaller minority would have thought about being Champions. But, as the season has progressed the reality of automatic promotion is coming ever closer. But is it as real as we think?
To help calm our nerves and excitement we have decided to go to the stats and come up with permutations. First up we decided to look at the points finishes for the champions, runners-up and minimum points needed to get in the play-offs.
Taking a look at the play-offs it looks like 75 points will guarantee a spot. For the runners-up spot, and automatic promotion, 85-90 points and Champions is 85+ and very dependent on who’s left in the race.
AFC Bournemouth are currently on 48 points with 22 games to go. This leaves a possible 66 points to play for. To reach 75 points the Cherries would need to gain another 27 points that’s 9 wins out of 22. To reach 85 points another 37 points, which equates to 12 wins 1 draw and 9 losses. Finally, to reach 90 points and possibly the Championship title another 42 points is required. That’s 14 wins and 8 straight losses.
Now that we have a good idea what will be needed to get to the different tiers of promotion, who do we have to play and when?
The first month of 2015 sees the Cherries take on Norwich and Watford at home and Leeds and Rotherham away. We are going for two wins and two draws that equals 8 points
PREDICTED: 48 points + 8 points = 56 points
ACTUAL: 48 + 6 = 54 points (-2)
The second month of 2015 sees the Cherries take on six games, Derby, Huddersfield and Blackburn at home and Wigan, Brentford and and Forest away. We are going for three wins and three draws that equals 12 points
PREDICTED: 56 points + 12 points = 68 points
ACTUAL: 54 + 6 = 60 points (-8)
The third month of 2015 sees the Cherries take on five games with three at home. At Dean Court its Wolves, Middlesboro and Blackpool, away from home its Fulham and Cardiff. We are going for two wins and three draws that equals 9 points
PREDICTED: 68 points + 9 points = 77 points
ACTUAL: 60 + 13 = 73 points (-4)
The fourth month of 2015 sees the Cherries take on six games with three at home and three away. At Dean Court its Birmingham, Bolton and Sheff Weds, away from home its Ipswich, Brighton and Reading. We are going for four wins, 1 draw and 1 loss which equals 13 points
PREDICTED: 77 points + 13 points = 90 points
ACTUAL: 73 + 14 = 87 points (-3)
The last game of the 2014/15 season is Charlton away. We are gong for a draw, that’s a single point.
PREDICTED: 90 points + 1 points = 91 points
ACTUAL: 87 + 3 = 90 points (-1)
So there it is. Our prediction is 91 points, almost a guaranteed automatic promotion spot. Will the rest of the season pan out as we hope? Will injuries play a role in our final finish? It all seems so easy when making predictions, but its never quite as easy it seems, there is always the unexpected. Surely, a play-off place is the least we should look forward too. We believe in Eddie, we believe in the players and we believe in Maxim Denim (for now). The greatest moment, after Supa Fletch scoring against Grimsby in 2009, in AFC Bournemouth history is just around the corner.
We are not so sure that we are any calmer or less excited than before, but if we believe the stats, and of course the team, Arsenal, Liverpool, Man City, Man Utd, Everton, West Ham et al will all be visitors to Dean Court in a Premiership fixture for the very first time. We just wish we had a time machine and could take a peek into the future, with the obvious outcome, but I guess we will just have to wait, see and dream.