Only Blackpool saw more player turnover than Lincoln City in League One last month with many old heads leaving Sincil Bank to be replaced by younger and as yet unproven talent.
Players who were instrumental in last years League Two Championship campaign such as Akinde, O’Connor and Andrade all went to pastures new. At the same time, talisman Harry Toffolo linked up with his old boss Danny Cowley at Huddersfield and, in a devastating final blow, Nottingham Forest cut short leading scorer Tyler Walker’s season-long loan, leaving the Imps the impossible task of finding a prolific new striker in twenty-four hours.
The younger talent was brought in by boss Michael Appleton as he looks to reshape the squad and the wage bill he inherited from the Cowleys. Still, the new direction of the club together with a recent run of three defeats in a row has left many fans fearing a relegation battle for the rest of the season.
However, fear not Imps fans, respected American statistics and analysis website FiveThirtyEight.com has predicted the final places in League One this season, and they conclude Lincoln will finish the campaign in their current fourteenth position.
The website bases its forecasts on a complex model that takes into account a host of factors derived from a revised version of ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI), a rating system devised initially by FiveThirtyEight in 2009 for rating international football teams.
The SPI incorporates club data going back to 1888 and also includes data from Opta. During the season a team’s ratings are adjusted after every match based on its performance during the game and the strength of the opponent.
The computer has crunched the numbers, and it predicts Lincoln will win fifty-eight points, finishing fourteenth and secure the comfortable mid-table spot that would delight many of their supporters.
Nonetheless, many concerned fans will believe there are ‘Lies, damned lies, and statistics’ until the Imps get the fifty-points on the board that should guarantee League One football next season.
For a look at the full league table as predicted by FiveThirtyEight.com, click here.
After such a significant turnover of players in such a short space of time, it could well be a tough second half of the season for the Imps.
It is not just the turnover but the quality of the youngster they have brought in to replace proven professionals that is a concern.
The loss of Walker is massive, and they will need to find goals somewhere
However, we feel they still have just enough to stay up, but it might be closer than the ‘supercomputer’ predicts, and fans used to winning in recent years will have to be patient.
Their home form will be crucial, but if fans start to get on the young player’s backs it might be a real close shave for the Imps..