The next 10 months
Grab a pen and write down, in order, your predicted end-of-season table. Do it again next week, after one round of results, and again the following week, and so on until May.
August is the obvious time to be setting targets, but it needn’t stop on day one. Take the example of Watford last season.
Before a ball had been kicked, betting markets predicted the Hornets to finish on 35 points; the lowest total in the league. After six games, however, that prediction had shifted to 43 points and 13th place; mid-table was within reach.
Already the club could realign expectations – our own prediction model suggested they were now odds-against for relegation, meaning that the plans for the January window perhaps needed changing as short-term fixes could give way to medium or even long-term options.
By Christmas, the markets judged Watford to be worth 52 points, while our model gave them a 38% chance of finishing between 11th and 13th (where they eventually finished). These types of numbers could allow front office staff to project TV revenues and performance bonus exposure, while confidently making plans for Premier League football in 2016-17.
Tracking an end-of-season prediction – whether your own or someone else’s – throughout the campaign will encourage decisions to be quantified and continuously reviewed. How much will a key player sale hurt in projected points? Will a coaching change create more or less certainty? Can we put an expected revenue value on promoting a young player?
So, where’s that pen?