Below is the final Pythagorean table for the 2011-12 English Premier League which concluded today (13 May). The league Pythagorean exponent is 1.70.
Manchester City are the new champions of England, confirmed in sensational fashion in the final minute of the season. This league title is no less than what they have deserved based on their Pythagorean expectations and their consistent defense, but Manchester United played them extremely close over the season and would have won it had it not been for Dzeko’s and Agüero’s heroics. Their +7 Pythagorean residual would have been extremely high for a league champion, and given some of the challenges that Sir Alex Ferguson has had to overcome this season, this season’s team could be one of his best coaching efforts.
Looking at the European qualification zone, it’s clear that the true overachiever this season has been Newcastle United, who had a goal differential of +5, a +10 Pythagorean residual, and a fifth place finish to overcome Chelsea. Arsenal pipped Spurs to the third and final Champions League group stage position; their performances regressed a bit to the mean, but Arsenal maintained their slim advantage that they held at the three-quarter mark of the season. (Tottenham’s regression was quite significant if you consider where they were at the start of the year — two points out of first and a ten point gap on Arsenal!)
In the middle of the table, you can see a difference in expectations among some of the teams that finished level on points (e.g. Liverpool and Fulham), but not others (e.g. West Brom and Swansea City). If I were a Sunderland or Liverpool supporter, I don’t know how to view this season as anything other than a disappointment. Both teams were within a shout of Newcastle and Chelsea in March!
At the bottom of the table, Wolves, Blackburn, and Bolton go down to the Football League Championship, and their Pythagorean expectations provide little consolation to them. QPR would have remained up if they had played up to expectations, but it shouldn’t have gotten to the last game. It is worth recalling that in March, Wigan were second from bottom with a Pythagorean residual of 0 — a wretched team. An unbeaten record in the final nine weeks earned them survival and in the process sent the title from the red half of Manchester to the blue half.
|West Bromwich Albion||38||13||8||17||45||52||-7||47||12||10||16||46||+1|
|Queens Park Rangers||38||10||7||21||43||66||-23||37||10||9||19||39||-2|