Last weekend's defeat at the hands of Aston Villa will have got Mick McCarthy wondering: just how many points will be enough this season?
The Premier League already has an extraordinary feel about it with Liverpool sitting in 16th, Everton bottom and West Brom in 5th. I'm sure Big Mick will already have a ‘ballpark’ figure in his head - but in the end, it's all just a guessing game.
Looking back over recent history, it's easy to see why most managers set 40 points as a benchmark; any more points, no worries but any less would be a large cause for concern.
History also tells us that, as the Premiership has got older, it's actually become easier to avoid the drop; culminating in West Brom's final day reprieve in 2004-05 that saw them stay up with a lowly 34 points - the lowest total ever to help a team avoid relegation.
Of course, this season will not be that easy. Wolves managed a handy 38 points last season; a tally aided by some fantastic results against Spurs and Liverpool. But this season, it's the matches against the other relegation candidates that will decide who goes down, only due to the fact that there are more teams than ever that could drop out of the league if they were to go on a run of poor form.
Stoke City, Bolton, Everton, Blackpool, Wigan Athletic, West Ham, Wolves and even Sunderland or Newcastle could be vulnerable if they were to lose a few games on the trot.
Unfortunately, this is where McCarthy is standing right now - and with his next two games against two of the listed teams, it is more vital than ever that he and his players get results.
The next game away at Wigan is difficult to read; the home side succumbed to a 0-4 drubbing at the hands of new boys Blackpool on the opening day, but have managed to secure points at White Hart Lane and Sunderland.
McCarthy will be hopeful Wolves will take all three points here, acting as a perfect pick-up before heading to Upton Park (their third visit to London in just over a month).
The Hammers are another side that got off to a tough start - but things look to be picking up under new manager Avram Grant so this tie is by no means an easy one.
On the other hand, with so many teams potentially facing the relegation battle at the end of the season, maybe it will be a little easier - with all the other teams around you taking points off each other and making survival possible?
In the end, all this conjecture and talk is just that. McCarthy will be well aware that an extended run of bad luck will seriously jeopardise his club's Premier League status and they must start picking up points again before they fall too far behind.
Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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