Sheffield United should be 12th or 13th in the Premier League table with their current points tally, according to Stan Collymore.
The Blades are actually in sixth, with their 1-0 win at Crystal Palace at the weekend moving them onto 36 points.
“Sheffield United are a decent team but they shouldn’t be anywhere near the top five or six,” Collymore wrote in his Mirror column.
“In the mid-to-late 90s, with the season they have had they would have been 12th or 13th, and that would have been seen as a good season.”
Daily Mail journalist, Martin Samuel, agrees writing: “Any league in which Sheffield United are strong Europa League contenders – for all their admirable qualities and the brilliant stewardship of Chris Wilder – is not displaying strength in depth.”
United have been putting up with unfair criticism since their promotion from the Championship last season. Wilder recently admitted he pins it up on the dressing room wall to motivate his players.
So are these more unfounded opinions from so-called experts, or are they accurate?
Is Stan Collymore right about Sheffield United?
Collymore harks back to the “mid-to-late 90s” as being a better time for English football. Which should perhaps be unsurprising as that was when he was in his pomp as a player.
Yet Collymore does have a point. At no time since the launch of the Premier League in 1992/93 to the 1999/00 campaign would 36 points have put a team in sixth after 25 games.
Teams in sixth place after 25 matches during that period would need to average 39.6 points. But while Collymore is accurate in this respect, he undermines his argument by claiming the Blades would actually be “12th or 13th”.
No side with 36 points has been as low as 12th after 25 fixtures. The closest this came to being accurate in the 1990s was in 1995/96, when Middlesbrough were 12th at this stage with 33 points.
History actually tells us that 36 points during that period would have put Wilder’s side between eighth and ninth.
This is a trend that continues when taking the Premier League era as a whole. The team in sixth after 25 games averages 40.5 points. This term that is almost enough to be fourth – with Chelsea currently there with 41 points.
36 points after 25 matches averages a position in the table of 8.4.
So history shows that Collymore is correct in the respect that United’s current points tally wouldn’t usually place them as high as sixth. Yet he then is completely incorrect suggesting they should be well into the bottom half.