By Brian Sears
19 May 2011
To paraphrase Ol’ Blue Eyes: ‘And now, the end is near, the season takes its final curtain. But who, supporters ask, supporters fear, is down for certain?’
As a dispassionate statistician, it’s clear that Manchester United generally have a good final day in the Premier League. We’ve looked at the last-day matches for the 18 completed seasons of the Premier League – and the last-day games for all the current clubs over the past 18 years, regardless of their divisions.
United have by far the best record: 13 wins, three draws, and just two defeats. Those came in May 2001 to Tottenham and in May 2007 against West Ham. In both cases, United were already certain to be champions.
This does not bode well for this weekend’s final opponents, Blackpool. (For each club’s last-day record, see table below).
If things go to form, United will win, meaning Blackpool will lose, and, if other results go to form, be relegated.
But who will join the Seasiders and West Ham (ironically good on the final day, but already down) in falling through the trapdoor?
By end-of-seasons past, one might well expect a draw between Wolves and Blackburn, and another draw at Stoke versus Wigan.
Which means the pivotal result could be Tottenham versus Birmingham. Tottenham generally have a bad last day at the office. Birmingham’s record is better. If this converts to a Brum point and the other results as we’ve laid out, it will be West Ham, Blackpool and Wigan going down.
If Spurs defy history and win and other results pan out as predicted, it will be West Ham, Blackpool and Brum going down*.
*other results are also available, including a permutation where Wolves and Blackburn both go down, but that, frankly, is so bloomin’ unlikely, statistically, that it warrants only one italic footnote.