Cardiff City and Swansea City were among the biggest underachievers in the Championship this season, according to a new table that has just been compiled.
Our sister site in Berkshire reports research done by OLBG has compared the predicted finishes for the 24 teams at the start of the season to where they actually ended up at the end of a gruelling 46-match campaign.
And it shows only Barnsley, who like Swansea had been in the play-offs the previous year, fared worse. The Tykes finished rock-bottom, 14 places below the top 10 spot bookies had expected them to fill before a ball was even kicked for the 2021-22 campaign.
READ MORE: Cardiff City odds on favourites to land Gareth Bale
Cardiff had been tipped to finish eighth, but ended up 10 places lower than that in 18th spot following a truly woeful run of results under Mick McCarthy before Steve Morison started to turn things around. At one point, there were genuine fears Cardiff would be relegated into League One, but Vincent Tan acted to stave off that danger.
Up to 21 players could next leave Wales’ capital city club as Morison oversees Project Rebuild, looking to put together a far more fit for purpose squad fans hope can challenge for the top six next season.
Swansea were tipped for a fifth-placed finish back in August, a legacy of the excellent work Steve Cooper had done in steering them to a Wembley play-off final against Brentford a few months earlier. The forecast from the bookies was somewhat naive, given Swansea’s loss of their boss Cooper, plus talents such as Andre Ayew and Marc Guehi as the Wembley side was ripped up.
Whatever, like their arch-rivals Cardiff the final table saw the Swans finish 10 places below expectation down in 15th spot. The only other side to underachieve as much as the Welsh pair were Reading, tipped to be 11th but actually finishing 21st and just outside of the relegation spots.
West Brom come next, backed to finish second in the table only to Fulham but actually finding themselves down in 10th, eight below par, and out of the play-offs entirely.
The big over-achievers who turned the table completely on its head were play-off duo Huddersfield and Luton, who are battling it out to probably meet Cooper’s new club Nottingham Forest in a Wembley shootout for the Premier League.
Huddersfield were tipped to be relegated in 22nd place, but actually finished third – 19 spots above expectation. Luton were backed to be 19th, but had a magnificent year under their Welsh boss Nathan Jones and made the top six – 13 spots higher than anticipated.
Coventry and Blackpool were other teams punching above their weight and achieving much better finishes than predicted.
The final table of underachievers and overachievers
1: Fulham: Predicted 1st (0 difference)
2: Bournemouth: Predicted 4th (+2)
3: Hudersfield: Predicted 22nd (+19)
4: Nottm Forest: Predicted 7th (+3)
5: Sheff Utd: Predicted 3rd (-2)
6: Luton: Predicted 19th (+13)
7: Middlesbrough: Predicted 6th (-1)
8: Blackburn: Predicted 12th (+4)
9: Millwall: Predicted 14th (+5)
10: West Brom: Predicted 2nd (-8)
11: QPR: Predicted 10th (-1)
12 Coventry: Predicted 21st (+9)
13: Preston: Predicted 18th (+5)
14: Stoke: Predicted 9th (-5)
15: Swansea: Predicted 5th (-10)
16: Blackpool: Predicted 24th (+8)
17: Bristol City: Predicted 20th (+3)
18: Cardiff: Predicted 8th (-10)
19: Hull: Predicted 15th (-4)
20: Birmingham: predicted 16th (-4)
21: Reading: Predicted 11th (-10)
22: P’Boro: Predicted 23rd (+1)
23: Derby: Predicted 17th (-6)
24: Barnsley: Predicted 10th (-14)