Saturday, September 07, 2019

Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019/20 Group Stage Preview

We have group stage! For two clubs!
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Just like last year!

I included Greece and Cyprus in this, not because they are in Scotland's "neighborhood", but because under the new 2021/22 system, 15th place is what is needed to get 2 clubs in the Champions League and the other clubs in the Europa League (instead of the new "Europa League 2"). That's pretty much out of reach. I guess it matters if they get to 17th to see if the Premiership champions enter in the first or second round of the Champions League, but that seems small potatoes.

Playoff-Round Review


Celtic won the home leg 2-0 before dominating AIK in the away leg 4-1 for a convincing 0.5 points for the coefficient.

Rangers had a scoreless draw away, and was heading into extra time with the same scoreline until they pulled out a 1-0 win over Legia Warsaw. 0.375 for the coefficient.

Scotland stays in 19th place, but more importantly has two clubs alive.

Group-Stage Preview


Celtic (Elo 1595) got drawn with Lazio (Elo 1672), Rennes (Elo 1641) and Cluj (Elo 1574). Remember, Cluj knocked them out of the Champions League.

Rangers (Elo 1542) ended up in a group with Porto (Elo 1809), Young Boys (Elo 1669) and Feyenoord (Elo 1587).

Here we switch to the Fivethirtyeight ratings, because they give match-by-match predictions for the group stages. For reference, the ratings are:
  • Celtic 66.1
  • Lazio 69.9
  • Rennes 60.9
  • Cluj 45.3
  • Rangers 61.6
  • Porto 78.4
  • Young Boys 72.0
  • Feyenoord 57.8

So clearly the Fivethirtyeight model likes the Scottish clubs more than Clubelo does.

In fact, they give Celtic a 66% chance of making it out of the group stage, and Rangers a 35% shot.

What we can do, though is translate the match-by-match win/draw probabilities into an expected number of points for Scotland's coefficient. The expected number of wins is about 4.6, with about 2.9 draws, giving roughly 3 more points for the coefficient, bringing it up to 7.5. That is usually a top 10 coefficient, which would demonstrate that Scotland is truly on its way back.

In fact, we can do something similar for all the nations in the 15-22 range to project the post-group stage standings. (No countries are expected to drop into or out of this range. The projections are:
  • 15. Cyprus 26.67
  • 16. Greece 26.1
  • 17. Scotland 25.62
  • 18. Serbia 25.33
  • 19. Croatia 24.98
  • 20. Switzerland 24.05
  • 21. Norway 22.33
  • 22. Sweden 22.17

2020/21 Sneak Peak


Since Scotland is unlikely to move into 15th place this year, let's look at the race as it is likely to stand next year (which, I remind you, affects the 2022/23 leagues.)


Scotland starts barely below 15th. If we go a step further and add the expected points from the group stage, we see:
  • 14. Scotland 22.62
  • 15. Denmark 22.03
  • 16. Serbia 21.13
  • 17. Greece 20.7
  • 18. Croatia 20.48
  • 19. Czechia 20.17
(I skipped Ukraine because they will probably pick up a bunch of points in the group stage.)

So over five years ago, I started wondering about the then-Celtic manager's complaint that, "It is stupid the Scottish coefficient is not regarded as good enough." And next year, the Scottish clubs should be perfectly placed to do something about it...to take effect in 2022.

    Monday, August 19, 2019

    Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019/20 Playoff-Round Preview

    Could have gone better, but definitely could have gone worse.

    Third-Round Review

    Celtic picked up 0.125 for the coefficient in an away draw to Cluj and seemed poised to progress as late as the second half of the home tie, where they were leading 3-2. Then they dropped the match 4-3, meaning only 0.125 total and falling to the Europa League.

    Rangers looked absolutely dominant, winning both legs against Midtjylland, 4-2 and 3-1. 0.5 for the coefficient, and they should have an easier time the next round.

    Aberdeen lost both legs 2-0. Absolutely dreadful, and another third-round exit for Derek McInnes. They depart having contributed 0.875 to the coefficient.

    That adds up to 0.625 points, staying in 19th place, and still having more points from this year than any other nation.

    It's more points than they had last year at this time, and last year was spectacular. So it's hard to argue with success, though there are some "if only"s in there.

    Fourth-Round Preview

    Celtic (Elo 1568) is up against Swedish champions AIK (Elo 1525). Clubelo gives Celtic a 56.2% chance of advancing.

    Rangers (Elo 1549) faces Legia Warsaw (Elo 1420). Clubelo gives Rangers a 69.8% chance of advancing.

    I think there's a strong hope for two teams in the group stages again, and the bounty of points that is possible there, but there is a slight chance of crashing and burning and seeing nobody progress.

    In particular, if you believe the odds (and Rangers in particular has a history of overperforming odds in the past year), there is about a 40% chance of having both progress, and a 13% chance of neither progressing.

    Where We Stand

    Not much changed in Scotland's neighborhood. Norway moved ahead of Switzerland. Everybody is down two teams, so there's no real advantage there (though having 3 of 5 left is a slight advantage, particularly if one is entering the Champions League now). Scotland could easily pass Serbia, and hypothetically Croatia. In turn, a bad round would see them drop below Norway, and there's a mathematical possibility of dropping below Switzerland.

    But the most important thing is to get teams through to the group stage (and see their rivals not manage the same).

    Monday, August 05, 2019

    Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019/20 Third-Round Preview

    That went (mostly) well. All three remaining Scottish teams advanced, and they only dropped 0.25 total points based on two away draws. The road gets tougher from here, though.

    Second Round Review


    Celtic downed Nomme Kalju 5-0 and 2-0 to advance. They got an easy draw, and took advantage with full points.

    Rangers built up a 2-0 lead on Progres Niederkorn before settling for a 0-0 away draw.

    Aberdeen started with a 1-1 away draw to Chikhura Sachkhere before destroying them 5-0 at home.

    That adds up to 1.25 points, and moving up to 19th place.

    Third-Round Preview


    Celtic (Elo 1566) faces Cluj (Elo 1572). Clubelo gives them a 49% chance of advancing.

    Rangers (Elo 1508) faces FC Midtjylland (Elo 1539), so they should be slight underdogs.

    Aberdeen (Elo 1399) is up against HNK Rijeka (Elo 1530), so they should be heavier underdogs.

    Everybody's technically an underdog, so I'd say a good result is two wins, and more than 0.75 points. A bad result would be losing both Rangers and Aberdeen to European football before the playoff round. It would be reasonable to see Scotland anywhere from 17th to 21st after this round, although the low end would take a good bit of bad luck.


    Playoff (Fourth) Round Sneak Peak



    Celtic is up against Slavia Prague (Elo 1649) if they beat Cluj, so an even harder road the group stages of the Champions League. If they fall to Cluj, it's the winner of Sheriff Tiraspol (Elo 1304) and AIK (Elo 1539). So I expect them in the Europa League group stages one way or another, but it's not a pushover.

    If Rangers upsets Midtjylland, they face the winner of Legia Warsaw (Elo 1403) or Atromitos (Elo 1468). They should be favored in either situation.

    In the unlikely event Aberdeen progresses to the playoff round for the first time under the Europa League format, they have to take on Gent (Elo 1546) or Larnaca (Elo 1539). The draw never seems to be kind to Derek McInnes' club.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2019

    Nebula Update: Flowers for Algernon

    I finished another Nebula winner, giving me 5 left to go. I am not having much luck making it through The Stone Sky, so I may be stuck at 5 for a while.

    It looks like I didn't write a review. It was very thought-provoking. I think what kept it from 5 stars was that I was hoping to be more entertained than have my thoughts provoked.

    Flowers for AlgernonFlowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

    My rating: 4 of 5 stars

    Monday, July 22, 2019

    Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019/20 Second-Round Preview


    The first round didn't actually go too badly. Kilmarnock going out to Welsh "minnows" was obviously disappointing, but it's the kind of thing you aren't surprised by when you send a minor Scottish team (who has just changed managers) into Europe. And they weren't going to be advancing past the second round anyway...

    The "neighborhood" of two points around Scotland has shifted from 18-24 to 16-23, which looks promising, although with the Greek and Swiss sides entering the competition, it will become harder to gain ground. At least Croatia, Serbia and Norway all saw teams knocked out.

    First Round Review

    Celtic took both legs, 3-1 and 2-1 against Sarajevo. You might have expected more from the champions, but they got the job done, and it's early.

    Rangers absolutely destroyed St. Joseph's, 4-0 and 6-0. That was the largest aggregate margin in the first round of the Europa League.

    Aberdeen slid past RoPS, 2-1 and 2-1. They looked like they were going to drop coefficient points until added time in the last game, but again, they got the job done.

    Kilmarnock picked up some points by winning 2-1 against Connah Quay's Nomads, but messed up the away leg 2-0 and dropped out.

    So 1.75 points total, with the least-shocking shock exit. Not great, but they're in good shape going forward.

    Second Round Preview

    Celtic (Elo 1563) lucks out and faces Estonian champions Nomme Kalju (Elo 1092), which should be an easy win for them. (Clubelo says 96.7%.)

    Rangers (Elo 1504) gets a rematch with Luxembourg side Progres Niedercorn  (Elo 1203), who knocked them out two years ago. I predict revenge will fuel a big Rangers win.

    Aberdeen (Elo 1397) has a long trip to face Georgian side Chikhura (Elo 1238). On paper the most difficult matchup, but Aberdeen should advance to the third round for the fifth time in six years.

    I'll say a good result is picking up at least 1.25 points and having all teams through, while a bad result is getting less than 1 point and suffering an aggregate loss (bonus points for an Old Firm loss).

    Third Round Sneak Peak

    If Celtic progresses, they will face either Maccabi Tel-Aviv (Elo 1554) or Cluj (Elo 1560). Celtic should be slight favorites there. In the unlikely event they lose, they drop down to the Europa League where they take on Shkendija (Elo 1247) or F91 Dudelange (Elo 1242).

    If Rangers wins, they face Midtjylland (Elo 1536). A touch matchup, but winnable if they play like they did last year.

    If Aberdeen progresses, they are up against Croatian side Rijeka (Elo 1526). Aberdeen would be underdogs, but it would not be a huge upset to see them win.

    It would be tough, but not impossible for all three sides to progress to the playoff (fourth) round.

    Sunday, July 21, 2019

    Nebula Update: Man Plus

    I recently finished Man Plus, the 1976 Nebula Best Novel winner. Here is my entire Goodreads review.


    Man Plus (Man Plus #1)Man Plus by Frederik Pohl

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars


    Dated, but still enjoyable.


    Anyway, it was a classic SF story that aged well, if not wonderfully. As an added bonus, you can see this classic Android's Dungeon post about getting a book signed by a somewhat confused Fred Pohl. Six Nebula winners left to go; I think that's as close as I've gotten.

    Saturday, July 13, 2019

    World Heritage Update: 2019 Inscriptions

    UNESCO has inscribed 29 new properties onto the World Heritage list, bringing the total to 1121. Of those, the only one I have visited is "The Twentieth-Century Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright," specifically Fallingwater and the Guggenheim.

    That makes it my 63rd World Heritage site. As I have not visited any of the 2018 inscriptions, my percentage falls to 5.62%. I don't see a prospect of visiting any more this year.

    Tuesday, June 25, 2019

    Geocaching: Spring 2019

    I only got out geocaching three days in the Spring. But two of those days, I found four caches each, so I at least got a total of 9.

    I went out at the end of March to find a high-favorite cache, because that gave me three souvenirs in the then-ongoing promotion. That got me to 62 souvenirs. I counted being at 57 last summer.  I didn't take note of a promotional souvenir I got in September, and there was a retroactive one awarded for the United States in December (previously, we only got souvenirs for individual states).

    Then in April, when in Greensboro, NC, I found 4 caches while waiting for my family. That moved Guilford County, NC to #7 on the counties I've found the most caches in. One of the caches I had been unable to find on my previous visit to Greensboro due to a bug in my phone's operating system. I got a new phone, so I was able to read the signal with the cache information. That was a 4/2 difficult/terrain combo, for my 40th D/T combo.

    In June, I headed out of the house and found four in Virginia while my family was wrapping Father's Day presents.

    Hoping to find a few more this summer in a few more regions (but unlikely new states or countries).

    Wednesday, June 19, 2019

    Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019/20 First-Round Preview

    Ah, summer, when a man's thoughts turn to Europa League qualifying. (And, OK, the Champions League.) After an amazingly good 2018/19 campaign, what does the new season have in store for Scotland's teams?

    Where We Stand


    Scotland climbed from 26th to 20th last year, but there's more than a point separating them from moving up to 19th. We always keep in mind the important thresholds. The nation in 15th place gets two Champions League berths, the one in 17th gets later entry into the qualifying, and 24th is necessary to prevent all the teams from entering in the first qualifying round. The 26th place ranking from two years ago determines that is what happens to Scotland this year. Another fantastic performance like last year would probably be necessary to get up to 17th, with 15th a more realistic target for the subsequent year. It would take a truly terrible performance to drop down to 25th.

    First-Round Matches

    Everybody has something to look forward to, although sometimes they have to wait for the preliminary round (zeroth-round?) to know exactly who that is. A total of 2.0 points are available. No Swiss teams enter yet, so a clean sweep would pass Switzerland. Serbia, Norway and Belarus also have 2.0 points available, while Sweden has 1.5 and Israel has 1.0.

    Celtic

    In the Champions League, Celtic (Elo 1570) face Bosnian champions Sarajevo (Elo 1239). (The source of these stats, as in previous seasons is clubelo.com.) A difference of 331 Elo points corresponds to an 87% win probability, but that does not account for the fact that in a two-legged tie, the favorite has even more of an advantage. I expect the full 0.5 from Celtic, although 0.375 would not be shocking. If by some weird sequence of events, Celtic loses, they get placed in third-round Europa League qualifying due to an odd number of teams, or a wormhole.

    Rangers

    In the Europa League, runners-up Rangers (Elo 1514) face the winner between FC Prishtina (Elo 1111), the 2nd place Kosavar team and St. Joseph's (Elo 875), the 3rd place Gibraltar team. You expect to face Prishtina, and be even stronger favorites than Celtic. Look forward to the full 0.5, but remember that Scottish clubs have embarrassed themselves in Europe before (though not last year, and not under Brendan Rogers).

    Kilmarnock

    Can they make some noise under a new manager? Third-place Kilmarnock (Elo 1392) face Welsh runners-up Connah's Quay Nomads (Elo 1005). I expect another full set of points, but I am less confident here. Connah's Quay were invited to the Scottish Challenge Cup last year, where they lost in the final to a second-division Scottish club.

    Aberdeen

    It's good to see Derek McInnes have a shot at a longer run this time, instead of facing a Premier League club out of the gates. Fourth-place Aberdeen (Elo 1403) face Finnish runners-up RoPS (Elo unknown). Finland operates on a calendar year schedule, so that second-place finish was in 2018, and RoPS is currently 10th (out of 12 teams).

    Anyway, for any one of these sides, you expect two victories, but someone somewhere is surely going to slip up. The best case is that nobody does, and you get the full 2.0 (or at worst 1.875). The worst case is a shock exit. I think between 1.5 and 1.75 would be a reasonable outcome, with all teams advancing.

    Second-Round Sneak Peak

    If Celtic wins, they face the winner of Estonian champions NΓ΅mme Kalju (Elo 1046) and North Macedonian champions ShkΓ«ndija (Elo 1326). Probably a tougher match, with Celtic a definite favorite.

    If Rangers wins, they face one of Cork City (Elo 1198), Progres Niedercorn (Elo 1190) or Cardiff Met University (Elo unknown). Although Niedercorn knocked Rangers out two years ago, this is a much better side, which should be a heavy favorite against any of those three.

    If Kilmarnock wins, they face Partizan Belgrade (Elo 1560). They will be definite underdogs.

    If Aberdeen wins, they face Fola Ech (Elo 1173) or Chikhura Sachkhere (Elo 1214). Either way, they should be favored.

    Getting three sides through to the third round would be even better than last year's excellent start, and is the most likely scenario.

    Tuesday, June 04, 2019

    Nebula Update: The Calculating Stars

    I'm now down to 7 books to read in my Nebula Best Novel quest. I finished the latest winner, The Calculating Stars. It has a lot of good bits, but I was put off by its approach to alternate history.

    Here is my Goodreads review.

    The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut, #1)The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

    My rating: 3 of 5 stars


    This book is well-written and compelling, but I can't bring myself to give it more than 3 stars. As with the novellette that ends the series, I find the rules of its alternate history confusing. In the notes, the author explains that she made Dewey instead of Truman president because she had written herself into a corner on the timeline in the novella. But then there's an asteroid strike that seems to be the main divergence, which is explained fairly differently in the prequel short story than it seems to be in the book. And then there's a character in the book who died in real life in 1920, so it seems like things are just being changed around for the convenience of the story.

    If you can get past that, it's at least a 4-star book, if not 5 stars.



    View all my reviews

    Wednesday, May 29, 2019

    Nebula Update: All the Birds in the Sky

    I finally got around to reading the 2017 Nebula Best Novel winner, All the Birds in the Sky. It was not as good as I would have liked. I can't put my finger on what bothered me the most, but here are a few things. The style was very breezy. The first part felt like a YA novel (not in a good way). I gather that may have been a conscious choice to reflect the characters' ages, but it did not really mature as the book went on; it just added more "mature situations". At one point, an apartment was described as looking like it was from the show Hoarders. That's just not a good description for me. Also, the billionaire bankrolling science that is going to change the planet tires me out by this point. The author may have done some things differently with that, but it's still a warped view of how technological progress happens.

    While I read that, the latest award went out to The Calculating Stars. Sadly, it was not the nominee I had already read. It's part of a series with a novella that I "kind of enjoyed." It's not the ringing endorsement I'd like, but I will plunge forward. This still leaves me with 8 books to read:

    1. 1966: Flowers for Algernon (tie)
    2. 1966: Babel-17 (tie)
    3. 1968: Rite of Passage
    4. 1976: Man Plus
    5. 1978: Dreamsnake
    6. 1981: The Claw of the Conciliator
    7. 2018: The Stone Sky 
    8. 2019: The Calculating Stars

    Sunday, April 28, 2019

    Scottish Football: Three To Go

    I have updated my crude simulation after this weekend's games. The new probabilities are:
    1. Celtic 99.6% Rangers 0.4%
    2. Rangers 99.6% Celtic 0.4%
    3. Aberdeen 67.4% Kilmarnock 30.9% Hibs 1.8%
    4. Kilmarnock 59.1% Aberdeen 31.1% Hibs 9.6% Hearts 0.2%
    5. Hibs 76.1% Hearts 12.7% Kilmarnock 9.7% Aberdeen 1.5%
    6. Hearts 87.1% Hibs 12.6% Kilmarnock 0.3%
    In words, Celtic failed to clinch the title, but is almost certain to. Rangers clinched no worse than 2nd (and a European place). The race for 3rd and 4th is still basically Aberdeen and Kilmarnock, with Aberdeen 2-1 favorites to nab 3rd, and Hibs having an 11% chance of sneaking in there. The difference between 3rd and 4th will matter if Hearts shocks Celtic for the Cup.

    Sunday, April 21, 2019

    Scottish Football: Four Matches To Go

    I will once again use my crude simulation to update the top half of the Scottish Premiership as each set of matches goes by.

    1. Celtic 98.8% Rangers 1.2%
    2. Rangers 97.4% Celtic 1.2% Aberdeen 1.2% Kilmarnock 0.2%
    3. Aberdeen 64.1% Kilmarnock 33.0% Hibs 1.5% Rangers 4.1% Hearts 0.01%
    4. Kilmarnock 58.8% Aberdeen 32.9% Hibs 7.9% Hearts 0.4% Rangers 0.03%
    5. Hibs 71.6% Hearts 18.7% Kilmarnock 7.9% Aberdeen 1.8%
    6. Hearts 80.8% Hibs 19.0% Kilmarnock 0.1% Aberdeen 0.003%

    So, in words. Celtic failed to clinch, thus opening up the chances they won't win. (Although if this simulation were weighted by team rating, the chance would be almost zero.) Rangers came very, very close to clinching a European place. If a 1-in-3700 sequence of events happens in the league, and Hearts wins the Cup, they're left out. Aberdeen's defeat of Kilmarnock put them in the driver's seat for the 3rd slot and guaranteed Europe. Hibs' draw left them slipping out of the European places, and Hearts loss means that the Cup is almost certainly the only way they get into Europe.

    [This post was updated after I discovered a coding error that made slight changes in the probabilities.]

    Sunday, April 14, 2019

    Scottish Football: More European Speculation

    Recently I posted some subjective odds for which Scottish clubs would represent the country in next year's European tournaments. As I did last year, I will provide something more objective.

    I will use the same criteria as last year.
    • All teams have equal chances
    • Each match (except the Scottish Cup final) has a 1/3 chance of ending in a draw.
    • All non-draws have a goal differential of 1.
    • If two teams are tied on points and goal differential, the team that is currently ahead will stay ahead.
    If I wanted better odds, I would bother to program in the odds from Fivethirtyeight for all upcoming matches. But I think this is close enough.

    Since the Scottish Cup final is Celtic-Hearts, we have the following situation. If Celtic wins, the top 4 in the league make it to Europe. If Hearts win, it's the top 3, plus Hearts...unless Hearts also finishes third, in which case the 4th place team makes it too. That is exceedingly unlikely, but I had to program for it.

    Celtic:
    • Chance of being Champions League representative: 99.5%
    • Chance of being Europa League representative: 0.5%
    • Chance of missing out on Europe: 0%
    Rangers:
    • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0.5%
    • Chance of being Europa League representative: 99.4%
    • Chance of missing out on Europe: 0.1%
    Kilmarnock:
    • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0%
    • Chance of being Europa League representative: 71.5%
    • Chance of missing out on Europe: 29.5%
    Aberdeen:
    • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0%
    • Chance of being Europa League representative: 67.0%
    • Chance of missing out on Europe: 33.0%
    Hibernian:
    • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0%
    • Chance of being Europa League representative: 10.1%
    • Chance of missing out on Europe: 89.9%
    Hearts:
    • Chance of being Champions League representative: 0%
    • Chance of being Europa League representative: 51.6%
    • Chance of missing out on Europe: 48.4% 
    In words, if Celtic wins the Scottish Cup, it will probably be Celtic, Rangers, Kilmarnock and Aberdeen. If Hearts wins, it will probably be Celtic, Rangers, Hearts and whichever one of Kilmarnock and Aberdeen takes 3rd place. Hibernian has an outside chance of taking a spot away from Kilmarnock or Aberdeen.

    Saturday, March 30, 2019

    Geocaching: Slow Winter 2019

    I, uh, found six caches in Winter 2019. So not much to report.

    On January 7, I was First-to-Find (FTF) on a geocache near me. I've been advised to take a picture of the log in case there is a dispute about who found it first, so there it is above. That's my 19th FTF, and my 12th different FTF Difficulty/Terrain (D/T) combo. January 2019 is the 182th month a geocache was hidden in that I found a cache.



    On February 17, I found four caches. They were in Stafford County (County 88), Fredericksburg (County-equivalent 89) and Spotsylvania County (County 90). Above, you can see me at one of the virtual caches. That was one of two I found that day hidden in June 2001 (Month 183).


    On February 19, I had another FTF (#20). It was my 13th FTF D/T Combo, and February 2019 was my 184th hidden month.

    Here is my chart of hidden months. (I find this helpful to refer back to next time to see which ones got added.)


    Wednesday, March 13, 2019

    Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2019 European Speculation

    The final four of the Scottish Cup is set, so I will give my subjective outlook on which sides I expect to end up in Europe next season. There are 3 more matches before the split (where the top-half sides only play top-half sides). At the split, I will get more quantitative.

    Celtic


    Chance of playing in Europe: 99.99%
    Path to Europe: Not have a complete collapse in the league, or have a complete collapse and not have the teams below them have a spectacular rise, or win the Scottish Cup. Basically, they can still mathematically finish as low as sixth, but that's not going to happen. Fivethirtyeight gives them a 96% chance to win the league again, and being passed by three or four other clubs is almost out of the question.
    How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Very. If Rangers pulls off the 4% upset, they might add enough quality for the Champions League, but Celtic is clearly the class of the nation still.
    Managerial Outlook: Last year I said, "...it's not unrealistic to see Brendan Rogers being lured away." He was! But Neil Lennon is also very good. Hopefully they keep him, but 

    Rangers


    Chance of playing in Europe: 95%
    Path to Europe: Not have a collapse in the league. They're second and have been playing well. It would be a disappointment to end up third, a big disappointment to end up fourth, and even that would be enough depending on who wins the Cup.
    How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Very. They are the only side other than Celtic I can see making it into the knockout stages.
    Managerial Outlook: It doesn't seem time for Brendan Rogers to be lured away yet.

    Aberdeen


    Chance of playing in Europe: 90%
    Path to Europe: Hold on in third, win the Cup, or drop to fourth and have Celtic win the Cup. (Or drop to fourth and have Hearts move up to third and win the Cup.)
    How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Quite. They have consistently had decent European results, stopped only by running up against an EPL side (who they almost beat).
    Managerial Outlook: If Derek McInnes didn't leave for Rangers, I think he's there for a while. He would like to hoist a trophy or two.

    Kilmarnock


    Chance of playing in Europe: 40%
    Path to Europe: Stay in fourth and have Celtic and Aberdeen win the Cup, or move up.
    How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Not. They are a classic Scottish side who overachieves domestically, but doesn't have the funds to compete in Europe.
    Managerial Outlook: Clarke seems like a great manager; maybe he will take over a bigger Scottish club.

    Hearts


    Chance of playing in Europe: 55%
    Path to Europe: Win the Cup, move up to fourth and have Celtic or Aberdeen win the Cup, or move up to third. They have had some nice results, so moving up to fourth or winning the Cup can't be ruled out.
    How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Somewhat. They have the resources and they may be willing to spend a little with their stadium renovations done.
    Managerial Outlook: Good. Levein is doing a good job, and doesn't seem to have ambitions elsewhere.

    Everybody Else


    Chance of playing in Europe: 25%
    Path to Europe: Hibs, Motherwell, St. Johnstone and Livingston are all alive for the sixth spot at the split. Then they could mathematically make it into the top three or four. Maybe 25% is high, but Hibs could make some noise. Inverness CT doesn't have much chance to win the Cup out of the second tier, but it has happened before.
    How happy we should be if they are in Europe: Not, except maybe Hibs.
    Managerial Outlook: Mixed.

    Tuesday, March 12, 2019

    Scotland's UEFA Coefficient: 2018/9 Knockout-Round Review

    Well, the knockout rounds aren't over, but they are for Scotland. Celtic got swept in the Europa League Round-of-32, so that's that. A sad end to a really excellent campaign.


    I mean, 20th! That's not nothing! And look at those 6.75 points from this year's campaign. That's the most in 11 years. It's the 10th-best in Europe this year (though 4 countries below them still have teams active). Anyway, 20th will put them in decent shape for the 2020/21 campaign, but more importantly, it positions them well for next year's climb up the charts (which, I remind you, affects the 2021/22 campaign).

    So in 2020/21, Scotland won't be in the embarrassing spot that they will be in 2019/20, with a first-round entry for all their teams. But they haven't climbed up enough to make any sort of improvement. Yet.

    Before we start looking ahead, let's look back one last time. How did Scotland get 6.75 points? Well, they got 2.875 from Celtic, actually a little worse than last year. But Rangers produced 2.75, Hibs contributed 1, and poor Aberdeen chipped in a measly 0.125.

    I think sustained runs from the Old Firm are a possibility every year now. Aberdeen will probably be back and could get a friendlier draw, and the fourth team (probably not Hibs) may or may not be able to contribute a point again.

    Scotland starts out the next campaign still in 20th. It actually looks harder to climb up than to fall down, but another solid performance would do it.

    Looking ahead to 2020/21 (where we are setting the ranking for 2022/23) is where the Scottish surge could really come into play.

    Two years like the last, and Scotland could see two Champions League representatives again...four years from now.

    Wednesday, March 06, 2019

    Nebula Update: The Falling Woman

    I read a Nebula Best Novel winner for the first time in several years. I also let a couple of years go by without reading that year's winner. Of the six finalists this year, I have read one of them. Guess which one I'm rooting for!

    This leaves me with

    1. 1966: Flowers for Algernon (tie)
    2. 1966: Babel-17 (tie)
    3. 1968: Rite of Passage
    4. 1976: Man Plus
    5. 1978: Dreamsnake
    6. 1981: The Claw of the Conciliator
    7. 2017: All the Birds in the Sky
    8. 2018: The Stone Sky
    Below is my Goodreads review of The Falling Woman.

    The Falling WomanThe Falling Woman by Pat Murphy

    My rating: 2 of 5 stars


    I read this in my quest to read all of the Nebula Best Novel winners. This one was a slog. That is partially on me. I prefer more traditional forms of fantasy rather than a real-world story with some mystical elements layered on.

    It’s partially on the novel, though. The best novels draw me in, regardless of genre. This one didn’t, and it wasn’t helped by the at-times clunky prose.

    View all my reviews

    Monday, January 07, 2019

    2018 Stay-At-Home Bowl Preview

    It is playoff time in the NFL, which means that as a Redskins fan, I turn my attention to something other than following my team.

    Yes, it's the Stay-At-Home Bowl, the honor I bestow upon a team that has beaten both Super Bowl participants. With the final eight teams decided, there are five out of the sixteen possible Super Bowls that will cause the honor to be bestowed.

    • New England-Dallas: Tennessee would win.
    • New England-Philadelphia: Tennessee would also win.
    • Kansas City-Dallas: Seattle would win.
    • Indianapolis-Rams: Philadelphia would win.
    • Indianapolis-Dallas: Houston would win.
    I guess what I am saying is that the NFC East wasn't very good, so their playoff teams lost to a lot of teams, so in the unlikely event that one of them ends up in the playoffs (dear God, no), there's a decent chance you have a winner.

    Last year's winner, Kansas City is doing pretty well this year, continuing the trend of winners having a good next season.