The Points Per Game graph tracks how Derby’s form fluctuated throughout the season. It tells a story of early-season promise which fell away in the winter, as a small squad gradually slipped out of play-off contention, briefly flirting with the relegation struggle before stabilising late on, with the help of a couple of decent loan signings.
For comparison, here are the key league positions expressed in PPG, rather than points: –
1. Cardiff (C) 1.89
2. Hull (P) 1.71
6. Leicester (p) 1.48
10. DERBY 1.33
21. Barnsley 1.20
22. Peterborough (R) 1.17
24. Bristol City (R) 0.89
The final PPG for Peterborough, relegated in 22nd place, was an abnormally high 1.17. Championship runners-up Hull finished with 1.71 PPG, while sixth-placed Leicester scrambled into the play-offs with 1.48 PPG.
Our season high came in November, when the 2-0 win over Barnsley pushed us up to 1.53 PPG and we maintained that level of form until mid-December, when a 2-0 win at Bristol City kept us ticking over at 1.5 PPG – which would have been good enough to get us into the top six, if we could have kept it going.
What the graph demonstrates is how our form fell away after the January transfer window closed. On New Year’s Day, after beating Boro 3-1 at home, we had a PPG of 1.42 – not far off the play-off pace. By the start of February, when we beat Huddersfield 3-0 at home, we were still running at the same level of form. Only then did we hit the skids.
As it turned out, things got as bad as they were gonna get when the 3-1 loss at Birmingham in early March saw our PPG drop to 1.22, by which time any play-off ambitions were long gone and we were starting to look anxiously over our shoulders.
Buxton and Hughes were both injured at that time, as was John Brayford, while Gareth Roberts’ three-match suspension for a straight red at Hull had led to a first-team call-up for teenager Michael Hoganson.
There was never a prolonged injury crisis, but at Cardiff on 5 March, we were missing eight players and unable to fill the bench. The cavalry had already arrived by then, with Chris Martin and ‘Micky’ Forsyth loaned in at the end of February – but you do wonder what might have happened if they had been brought in during January, when we were going well, rather than being drafted in reactively, once our form had deserted us and we were slipping down the table.