Extrapolation. It sounds like a song title from Mary Poppins or Cliff Richard’s Eurovision song entry from a million years ago. It is, of course, a simple mathematical calculation used to predict outcomes.
It’s something that I used to firmly believe in, before a ball was kicked at the start of the season I would work out how many points per game would be needed for a promotion, mid-table mediocrity or to avoid relegation. After ten matches, I used to be able to reasonably accurately predict where my club would finish at the end of that season. Sometimes my prediction matched the club’s expectations which was great. Other times it fell short of what the natives were demanding which was a little more challenging.
Peaks and troughs, highs and lows and all the other cliches get rolled out when a team is going through a barren spell but the one thing I used to always keep an eye on was the points target and the extrapolation needed to reach the club’s goal. There’s no doubt that Forest Green are in the middle of a trough but let’s get the calculator out and see how the season is panning out.
The first sum is so easy there’s an outside chance a Cabinet Minister could do it without having to take his or her socks and shoes off. Rovers have played 34 matches and have 68 points averaging 2 points a game. Extrapolate that and they will achieve 92 points at the end of the season. That will be more than enough to ensure they win the title, Cheltenham were crowned Champions last year with 82 points leaving a fudge factor worthy of complacency. The good news keeps rolling in, third-placed Bolton secured automatic promotion with 79 points, Rovers need only four more wins to surpass that target.
Peaks and troughs, ups and downs, there has to be some doom and gloom to give a balance. During their last five matches, Rovers have averaged a miserable 0.4 points per game. Extrapolate that until the end of the season and Rovers would finish with 72.4 points, less than they achieved last season and not enough to make the playoffs. In fact, if they had achieved the same average that they have achieved during the last five games throughout this season they would finish bottom of the table with a miserly 18.4 points, less than half the points that bottom club Grimsby achieved last year.
What is blatantly obvious from my Carol Vorderman impersonation is that Rovers’s form needs to improve drastically. The irony is that there is no doubt in my mind that it will. I was confident at the beginning of the season that they would be promoted and I’m convinced now that will be the case. Still, it’s amazing what a bad five-game run and a calculator can do to dampen the spirits of even the most optimistic!
In a regular column, iconic former Forest Green manager Frank Gregan has teamed up with Stroud Times to look back on his time at the New Lawn.
Now living in Spain and a published author, the former sergeant major joined Rovers in 1994 – leading his side to back-to-back promotions and Wembley final. Frank transformed the club from non-league minnows, charting the way for what they have gone onto achieve under the late Trevor Horsley’s successor Dale Vince.
Follow Frank on Twitter: @Greegers