The Football League: Predicting the Unpredictable

by Mike Moore

Sunday, January 22nd, 2012

Coventry City's Alex Nimely celebrates scoring their second goal of their terrific win against Middlesborough

Every week, my brother places an accumulator on various Football League results, only a few quid, but enough to make it fairly interesting. To this date, he has never won. What looks a cast-iron home win for a promotion chaser against a team middling along in mid-table obscurity may turn out to be a 1-4 reverse.

This weekend helped reinforce just why I love the Football League, in particular its brilliant unpredictability. Especially in the Championship, the division with the richest pay-off in world sport, which still garners more fans than Serie A, any team can be in with a chance of beating the other. Being a fan in this division is, without doubt, the most frustrating profession in football (except maybe being Mario Balotelli’s minder), as your team can end a nine-match unbeaten run one week with a gritty 3-2, then go on to lose 4-0 to a struggler the next.

In the last few weeks, formerly runaway leaders Southampton suffered reverses against relegation fodders Doncaster and Bristol City (the latter completing a home and away double of victories). But surely the stand-out result of this weekend was Coventry’s emphatic 3-1 victory against Middlesborough. OK, so Boro haven’t won a game all season, and had midfielder Kevin Thomson sent off in the first half for two silly fouls, it was still a cracking result for the team previously marooned at the bottom of the table, led on by new loan signing Alex Nimely and veteran (someone dig out his birth certificate) Gary McSheffrey.

But it’s not just the Championship sides having all the fun. Look down the division for this week’s results and you’ll see Hartlepool holding Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough, Bristol Rovers (complete with new manager syndrome) going to high-flying Cheltenham and trouncing them 2-0, and my favourite, League Two basement dwellers Plymouth earning a spirited point against previous leaders Crawley courtesy of an extraordinary stoppage-time overhead kick from defender Maxine Blanchard (watch it if you can, it’s a cracker…) This unpredictability just sums up why the Football Legaue is more popular than ever, and why it is so much fun to watch and follow (occasionally).

So please don’t ever change, Football League, even if it means my brother (and countless others) frittering away money on you every weekend.

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