Where Middlesbrough, Burnley and Hull sit in newbie hierarchy
2016-17 started so promisingly for promoted trio Middlesbrough, Burnley and Hull, with Boro going unbeaten through the opening three games, Burnley beating Liverpool on week two and Hull opening with two victories.
Things have soured dramatically since August, with one win all they have managed from a combined 15 attempts.
They haven’t tripped into the relegation zone yet, but edge closer by the week, with Middlesbrough outside on goal difference alone with six points and the other two on seven. Burnley (4/7) and Hull (7/10) are odds-on for the drop, and Aitor Karanka’s men aren’t much better off at 15/8.
The concern is that newcomers are usually at their best in the first few months due to the combination of post-promotion momentum, unprepared opponents and player and fan enthusiasm, so they are wasting their most potent point-plundering window.
With a mere 20 points between them, you may be wondering if they are the poorest performing Championship graduates of all time.
In fact, there have been three worse: Leicester, Burnley and QPR two years ago on 17, Norwich, West Brom and Crystal Palace in 2004-05 on 17 and Portsmouth, Leicester and Wolves in 2003-04 on 19.
They are however only the second trio in Premier League history to all be averaging less than a point-per-match eight fixtures into the campaign, replicating the meek class of 2004-05.
The good news is that in each of the three seasons referenced above as beginning dismally for the embryonic ensemble, one of the slow-starting sides improved enough to escape the relegation places.
Sadly, there is far more bad news. Two teams went down on every occasion, which considering there was such a high number of newbies making an instant second-tier return in just two of the 14 other terms this century is a telling figure.
The ones that get away rarely survive by much either. West Brom clung on by a point with a measly 34 in 2004/05 as Crystal Palace and Norwich tumbled and Leicester required an outstanding run-in to pull six clear at the death in 2014/15 as the Burnley and QPR squads they came up with flopped.
If the trend is to be obeyed with two of this year’s struggling three to be demoted and one to stay up, Middlesbrough are considered to most likely to rank 17th or higher, yet the high-profile summer signings that built that confidence like Victor Valdes and Alvaro Negredo haven’t vindicated it yet.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.