If you’ve spent any time on consuming media over the past year, you’ll almost certainly have come across all manner of sensational stories about how artificial intelligence is destined to change the world. That’s difficult to believe when you look at ChatGPT’s predictions for the 2023-24 Championship season.
‘Congress warns AI could reshape ‘human history’ as ChatGPT inventor Sam Altman testifies’, ‘AI-powered personalised medicine could revolutionise healthcare’ and ‘Silent killer’s urgent symptoms show how AI will change your NHS treatment’ are just a small sample of recent headlines on the topic.
Given such bold claims, we decided to have a go at asking AI to predict the upcoming Championship season. What it came back with might ease your worries about a Terminator-esque rise of the machines in the coming years.
ChatGPT began with the following disclaimer, which was fair enough.
“As an AI language model, I don’t have access to real-time data and my knowledge is limited to information up until September 2021. Therefore, I cannot predict the Championship table for the 2023-24 season accurately. However, I can provide you with a general idea of how teams’ performances could be influenced by various factors in a hypothetical scenario.”
They went on to include the following introduction over the factors that influence a league season:
Team Strength: The overall quality of a team’s squad, coaching staff, and management will play a crucial role in their performance. Established teams with strong financial backing and talented players are likely to be among the top contenders.
Transfers: Player transfers and acquisitions can significantly impact a team’s performance. High-profile signings or losses of key players can affect a team’s ability to compete at the top of the table.
Injuries: Injuries to key players can have a massive effect on a team’s form and results. Teams with depth in their squad and a good injury management system may fare better.
Managerial Changes: Changes in coaching staff can have both positive and negative impacts. A new manager may bring a fresh approach, motivating players to perform better, while a struggling manager could lead to a decline in results.
Form: The form of a team in the latter stages of the previous season can carry over to the next one. Teams that finish strongly may have the momentum to continue their good run.
Team Chemistry: How well the players gel together and understand each other’s playing styles can be vital in achieving consistent results.
So far, so generic. Difficult to argue with that, in much the same way you can’t wait the most banal ex-pro pundit rattling off the world’s most obvious platitudes on the Football Focus sofa.
Player transfers and acquisitions can significantly impact a team’s performance – well done, ChatGPT. Very astute.
Now here’s where get things get seriously weird. ChatGPT goes on to state “given these general factors, here’s a speculative Championship table for the 2023-24 season:” and without further ado…
1. Strongsville FC: After a few seasons of steady improvement and smart investments in player acquisitions, Strongsville FC has emerged as a powerhouse in the Championship. Their well-balanced squad, solid defense, and clinical attack propel them to the top.
2. Aston Rovers: With a new visionary coach and the signing of a young, talented striker, Aston Rovers have improved significantly. They narrowly miss the top spot but are serious contenders for promotion.
3. Hartford United: After narrowly missing promotion last season, Hartford United continues to be a strong force in the league. Their experienced squad and consistent performances keep them in the mix.
4. Leeds City: A historically strong team, Leeds City’s managerial change brings a new spark to the club. Their attacking style of play and strong home form make them genuine promotion candidates.
5. Birmingham Albion: A surprise package this season, Birmingham Albion has invested wisely in youth development. Their young talents step up and put on impressive performances throughout the season.
6. Milton Keynes Dons: A steady and well-organized team, Milton Keynes Dons secure a mid-table position with some notable victories.
7. Norwich Town: Relegated from the Premier League a couple of seasons ago, Norwich Town is finding their feet in the Championship. They have a good season, pushing for a playoff spot.
8. Hull Park Tigers: Hull Park Tigers have a mixed season with some inconsistent results, but they have enough quality to secure a comfortable mid-table finish.
9. Sheffield Wanderers: Despite their fighting spirit, Sheffield Wanderers fall just short of a playoff spot due to some defensive frailties.
10. Stoke Rovers: Stoke Rovers endure a tough season, finishing lower than expected, as they struggle with injuries and a lack of squad depth.
11. Reading Royals: A mid-table finish for Reading Royals, as they remain a solid, hard-to-beat team but lack the attacking firepower for a higher position.
12. Bristol Argyle: Bristol Argyle has a season of mixed results but manages to avoid relegation comfortably.
13. Preston North End: Preston North End’s season is characterized by inconsistency, and they narrowly avoid relegation.
14. Derby County: After narrowly escaping relegation last season, Derby County struggles again but ultimately survive in the Championship.
15. Ipswich Town: Ipswich Town has a difficult season and faces a relegation battle throughout the campaign.
16. Rotherham Millers: Despite their best efforts, Rotherham Millers struggle and are eventually relegated to League One.
17. Coventry Sky Blues: Coventry Sky Blues endure a tough season but manage to stay above the relegation zone.
18. Blackburn Rovers: Blackburn Rovers find themselves in a relegation battle, but a late surge ensures their survival.
19. Swansea City: Swansea City’s season is plagued with injuries, and they struggle to find consistency, narrowly avoiding relegation.
20. QPR: QPR experiences a difficult season and, unfortunately, succumbs to relegation.
ChatGPT aren’t claiming they can predict the future. In fact, it ends with the following disclaimer: “Please note that this prediction is purely speculative and based on hypothetical scenarios. The actual outcome of the 2023-24 Championship season will depend on many unpredictable factors and events that cannot be accounted for in advance.”
That’s true. Predicting the future is a mug’s game and not even the world’s most sophisticated supercomputer could do it. But ultimately their stab at ‘a speculative Championship table for the 2023-24 season’ is completely worthless nonsense.
We can safely assume that Strongsville FC won’t end up gloriously promoted to the Premier League as Championship champions come May. Aston Rovers? Rotherham Millers? Coventry Sky Blues!? What is this, Pro Evo?
Of the 20 – not 24 teams – they’ve included, just five will actually be in the second tier with the right names. We don’t know if this bodes well or badly for their calls on Preston (13th), Ipswich (15th), Blackburn (18th), Swansea (19th) and QPR (20th). Apparently 20th means relegation for QPR but Blackburn and Swansea narrowly survive in 18th and 19th, respectively.
Elsewhere, we’ve got Derby County, Milton Keynes Dons, and Reading ‘Royals’, all of whom will compete lower down the pyramid in 2023-24, while runners-up ‘Aston Rovers’ (Villa, we can only assume) are now well-established in the Premier League.
Squint at Leeds City and it might also make sense. Leeds – United, that is – do have a new manager that favours a more attacking style, and previous strong seasons in the second tier have seen Elland Road something of a fortress. But we’re not giving them any credit – stopped clocks, and all that.
Artificial intelligence may well change the world. But given ChatGPT’s prediction of ‘Championship powerhouse’ Strongsville FC going on to romp the league, we’re not holding our breath for that happening any time soon.