I don’t like runs, especially ones that threaten to be record breaking. Losing runs are, of course, demoralising and agitate people into rash decisions, whether that be making grand proclamations of failure, replacing managers or dropping players.
Equally, winning runs become debilitating. Before Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Macclesfield we were looking at a record equalling fifth straight away win (although whether the JPT win over Aldershot should count should probably be disputed). Had we won, the Gillingham game would have been record breaking.
But winning runs are like inflating a bike tyre, at first every pump is a noticeable improvement and really welcomed. But each additional pump takes you closer to over-inflating and another puncture. The more you inflate, the more dramatic the pop.
This is because a run takes you further and further into the unknown. Drawing with Macclesfield should be considered the best result possible – even better than a win in the long term. I know everyone likes winning, but the draw acts as a valve, releasing a bit of pressure. We can go into the Gillingham game with our form in tact, but no talk of records.
I do like trends, because trends give you an indication of the real picture. Trends include the vagaries of lucky wins, dodgy defeats, injuries and suspensions and any seasonal factors. Nobody ever won a title by winning every game so defeats and draws – Sir Alex Ferguson’s squeaky bum time – need to be accepted as part of the rough and tumble of a season. Promotion is won by ensuring the standard remains high and the fluctuations are less varied.
My favourite trend is the 46 game moving annual total, this accounts for those fluctuations: the points accumulated from the last 46 games give you an idea of our form on an annual basis. Last year we accumulated 63 points, we needed 68 to be in the play-offs, and 80 to be promoted automatically.
The 46 games up to and including Saturday’s game saw us accumulate 72 points, which is play-off form. It is also by some distance the best form we’ve been in since we returned to the Football League. And, if fail to pick up points in Gillingham, this is not a sign that the bubble has burst, because the annual total will simply remain on 72.