Sheffield United Fan’s Column: Can we keep up this pace?

Chris Wilder's team have set a strong pace
Chris Wilder's team have set a strong pace

The top three teams in League One are currently averaging two points per game or more.

The likelihood is that this will not remain so at the end of the season. Over the past ten years two points per game has always guaranteed promotion from League One, and it is very unusual for two teams, never mind three, to maintain this rate for 46 games.

Two teams averaged two points or more in three seasons out of the last ten: Brighton and Hove Albion (95) and Southampton (92) in 2010/11; Charlton (101) and Wednesday (93) in 2011/12 and Wolves (103) and Brentford (94) in 2013/14. Aside from these, second place and automatic promotion has been achieved with 85, 82, 89, 86, 83, 91 and 85 points. The lowest total to win the title was Doncaster’s 84 in 2012/13.

At the bottom end of the promotion aspirants, sixth place has been achieved with a points total ranging from 69 to 80. The 2009/10 season was the only one in the last ten when six teams all got more than 80 points.

This season also saw the smallest gap between first and sixth - 10 points, with the biggest being 30 in 2014/15 (Bristol City 99, Chesterfield 69). So the total to aim for to guarantee promotion in first or second place is 92, though anything from 85 upwards is usually enough - but by no means always. Nothing is certain or can be guaranteed.

This season seems to be turning out similarly to 2011/12 when at first four, then three, teams pulled away from the rest, fighting out the top two places right to the end. You won’t need reminding that those teams were Charlton Athletic, Wednesday and United, and we know which one missed out, and then blobbed in the play-offs. Will this season work out the same way? Hopefully not as I’m sure you will agree.

One final statistic for you. The highest total achieved in the last ten years not to finish in the top two was 90 points. Guess who that was?