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Leon Wobschall: Leeds United, Sheffield United and Middlesbrough fans should heed the ‘10-game’ statistics

PACE-SETTERS: Marcelo Bielsa, Chris Wilder and Tony Pulis.
PACE-SETTERS: Marcelo Bielsa, Chris Wilder and Tony Pulis.
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IT is not how you start, it is how you finish.

That oft-used maxim is very much borne out by analysis of Championship tables of yore at this stage of proceedings, with the current ten-match point of the campaign providing a natural barometer to take a little stock.

Many soothsayers suggest that this is the time of the season when tables finally start to mean something and supporters begin to take notice. Yet it pays not to read too much into them, not just yet at any rate.

For every winner or two at this stage of the season in previous years, there have been plenty of losers along the way too.

Leeds United, Middlesbrough and Sheffield United may be currently well placed, but in the grander scheme of things, their statistics are far from extraordinary from both a national and Yorkshire perspective - and arrive with a touch of caution.

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Aden Flint heads in for high-flying 'Middlesborough versus Hull City on Saturday. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Aden Flint heads in for high-flying 'Middlesborough versus Hull City on Saturday. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Factoring in goals for and against and goal difference and average goals scored per game, the Whites’ performances in their opening ten games - which have seen them accrue 19 points - represent the 35th best-ever start to a Championship season by a club at this stage of proceedings.

Boro’s identical points opening represents the 38th best start and the Blades’ class of 2018-19 are currently ranked in 43rd after their ten-game haul of 19 points thus far.

History shows that six other Yorkshire teams have previously made better starts to second-tier campaigns - and just half have gone onto be promoted.

Pride of place went to Neil Warnock’s Blades line-up of 2005-06, who won nine of their opening ten games and pocketed a stunning 27 points - the best ever start to a Championship season after ten matches by any side. They went onto clinch automatic promotion as runners-up.

As it stands, the sensible option then is too not to take too much notice of the table at the minute, keep your powder dry and wait a little longer. It is good for your health.

Leon Wobschall

As did Aitor Karanka’s Boro after a haul of 20 points from ten outings at the start of 2015-16.

Huddersfield Town, who claimed 22 points in their first ten games in 2016-17, were also smiling come season’s end - but the play-off route beckoned after David Wagner’s side had to settle for fifth in the regular season.

Others have not been so fortunate, with last season emphatically proving a case in point.

The Blades took 21 points from their opening ten fixtures and went onto finish tenth. Leeds took one point fewer and ended in a forgettable 13th place.

Leeds United's Mateusz Klich celebrates scoring his side's equaliser against Sheffield Wednesday (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire)

Leeds United's Mateusz Klich celebrates scoring his side's equaliser against Sheffield Wednesday (Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire)

Back in 2011-12, Boro averaged exactly two points a game in their first ten appointments, but frustratingly finished in seventh. They were also top at Christmas, for good measure.

Nationwide, the scene backs up this school of thought and it is wise for supporters to avoid the inclination to start jumping through hoops just yet if they can.

Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich took 21 points from their first ten games of last term, only to tail off insipidly and finish the season in 12th. Cardiff took 23 points from that same number of matches in 2006-07 and also finished nowhere in 13th.

Nottingham Forest gathered 20 points from their opening ten games of 2004-05 and fell away to 14th by season’s end.

Most incredulously, one team - Wolves - amassed the same number of points (19) from their first ten matches as Leeds and Boro currently have and were relegated, with the Midlanders finishing in 23rd spot in 2012-13.

It is a fate which almost befell Blackpool, who took 19 points from their first ten games in 2013-14. The Seasiders’ rollercoaster season ended unceremoniously with a 20th-placed finish.

As it stands, the sensible option then is too not to take too much notice of the table at the minute, keep your powder dry and wait a little longer. It is good for your health.

Maybe give it until November or at the very least until the clocks go back...