There is a clearly defined line between the haves and the have nots in the premier league. Financial Fair Play might have suggested a new dawn of fairness with it's use of the word "fair" but in reality it is just a new way for the footballing elite to maintain the status quo.
This summer the media had cast Southampton as Icarus. The club that flew too close to the sun and was plummeting back to earth. The truth was less dramatic but no less interesting. It seems Les Reed might have tricked his direct competition into funding their own downfall as the saints prepare to infiltrate the "sky six".
In FFP the premier league missed a chance to institute some level of competitive balance. In it's stead lets try to create some parity using numbers.
Below we have a league based on Paddy Power's handicaps at the beginning of the season. Here are the head starts afforded to each team in order to give everyone a 16/1 chance of winning the title:
41% of summer bets placed on the relegation market were predicting the saints' downfall. Despite this, Southampton are ranked as the ninth best team here. Bookies aren't interested in fabricating a story to get readers, they knew the media were incorrect with their doom and gloom stories. Even so, expectations were still at a pretty low "Stoke" level.
Using the handicap points per game(H/g) column above lets merge this data into the current premier league standings.
(H#=Handicap Ranking, A#=Actual league Ranking, HPTS=Handicap Points, H+=Actual Points plus Handicap Points)
If we have a look at the current odds, Southampton are now evens to win this race, Swansea their closest challengers at 8/1.
The saints have already overtaken every team with a greater head start than them and we are just over a quarter of the way through the season.
The numbers look so good you might think that is why I have chosen to web log about the subject. That would be incorrect. I actually started looking at these numbers because during the summer turmoil I picked another dog in this race. And for that, I'm truly sorry.
You know who it is.
The man that we pretend we can't remember.
The man, who according to the updated chart below, is not as good as his successor.
(This chart shows how Pochettino and Koeman's saints squads compare in corresponding fixtures. Koeman has added three wins, ten goals and three clean sheets since we started looking at the race to the Southampton premier league record last month.)
Spurs are currently 66/1 to win the handicap league.