Four more wins prediction was not a good one
It was 12th March and Burnley had just beaten Huddersfield Town 3-1 to go seven points clear at the top of the Championship. As I left the John Smith’s Stadium, I had a short conversation with message boarder claretspice. He said five more wins from the last nine games would be enough, I replied suggesting it would only need four more.
On the following day, Middlesbrough were beaten at Charlton and I was convinced that 86 points, twelve more than we had at the time, would be enough to clinch promotion at least. It’s certainly been proved very wrong. It’s far from the case and the only thing for certain now is that 87 points is not going to be enough as all of us, Middlesbrough and Brighton sit at the top on that total with two games still to play. We can’t be caught by anyone else now, two of us will be going up to the Premier League automatically and the other will be in the play-offs.
After that defeat at Charlton, and prior to their home game against Ipswich two days ago, the only points Middlesbrough had dropped were the two in the 1-1 draw at the Turf last Tuesday and, likewise, Brighton’s 2-2 draw against us at the beginning of this month are the only points they’ve lost.
We’ve won thirteen points from the last seven games since Huddersfield. How on earth can that not be enough? But it isn’t and the fight goes on after another nail biting weekend for us. It couldn’t have started any better with us winning at Preston. I got a bit over excited when Charlton equalised against Brighton on Saturday but the good news came from Middlesbrough where Ipswich held them to a 0-0 draw.
There doesn’t appear to be much to like at Middlesbrough for Ipswich boss Mick McCarthy. He said he didn’t know which of the three would and wouldn’t go up, but he was delighted to have done Chris Hughton, a big mate of his, a favour. “If I have done one person a favour, I hope it’s Chris Hughton,” he said. “He is my mate and a wonderful guy, and so Chris, that’s a point for you lad. I hope we help him get promoted.”
There have been less positive comments, aimed at Middlesbrough, attributed to McCarthy, and he also said: “It could be a good point for them because, as bonkers as it is, we could have won it at the end. We wouldn’t have deserved it but I wouldn’t have given a shite.”
At the other end, those who know me will know how delighted I am to see the third relegation place confirmed. Bolton went first, then Charlton and now it’s the franchise from Milton Keynes who will take their arrogant chairman and manager with them hopefully. When the going got tough, they stopped going and have picked up only four points from their last nine games.
I would like to thank them though. This year they allowed me to celebrate my 64th birthday with our biggest away win since 1947. There wasn’t enough room on the cake for all the candles but who cares when you win 5-0 away from home on your birthday even if you are perched in the rafters in an otherwise empty stadium.
They’ve conceded another eight goals in their last two home games. “It is diabolical and not acceptable,” manager Karl Robinson said, before adding: “A lot of people at this football club have let themselves down. I think it’s time for an overhaul all over the club.” He also suggested that it was the end of an era on the pitch and that some who had been there for a long time needed to stand up and be counted.
They will be still be playing Bolton and Charlton next season but in League One where there could be some interesting fixtures. Will the club ten years ahead of us be playing a match at Accrington’s Crown Ground and could the franchise be forced to face Wimbledon?
On the subject of Charlton, their fans were at it again with the balloons and beach balls on Saturday. Brighton fans, and they had their own problems with owner Bill Archer a few years ago, marched with them in the pre-match protest but I’m not so sure what they thought when the balloons and beach balls went on early in the game, forcing it to be suspended on more than one occasion.
Bolton have got new owners and I hope Charlton do. I’ve always liked going there but they’ve been sold down the river by the Belgians. I really do sympathise with them and they don’t deserve what’s happened to them in the last two years.
As for the franchise, they can rot as far as I’m concerned. Hopefully they’ll soon be suffering another relegation.
Will the fight for the play-offs go to the last day? Obviously one of the top three will be in as will both Hull and Derby whose places are now confirmed. The last place is between Sheffield Wednesday and Cardiff. Wednesday currently hold a four point lead but the two face each other this Saturday at Hillsborough. Anything but an away win will secure Wednesday’s place.
But it is all what goes on at the top that matters and again, next week, we are staggered with Middlesbrough kicking off at Birmingham on Friday night. Then it’s a wait until Monday when Brighton face Derby before we kick off against QPR.
Will things be any clearer then? I hope so, and I hope in our favour.
If you go to Goalscorers – Discipline – Attendances within the 2015/16 Stats on the top menu, you can find the leading Championship goalscorers, the red and yellow card counts for each club, the ten highest and lowest attendances and each club’s average attendance.
REMAINING CHAMPIONSHIP FIXTURES
Tuesday 26th April
Hull v Brentford
Friday 29th April
Birmingham v Middlesbrough
Saturday 30th April
Bolton v Hull (12:30 p.m. kick off)
Brentford v Fulham
Bristol City v Huddersfield
Ipswich v MK
Leeds v Charlton
Nottingham Forest v Wolves
Reading v Preston
Rotherham v Blackburn
Sheffield Wednesday v Cardiff
Monday 2nd May
Brighton v Derby (2:30 p.m. kick off)
Burnley v QPR (4:45 p.m. kick off)
Saturday 7th May
Blackburn v Reading
Cardiff v Birmingham
Charlton v Burnley
Derby v Ipswich
Fulham v Bolton
Huddersfield v Brentford
Hull v Rotherham
Middlesbrough v Brighton
MK v Nottingham Forest
Preston v Leeds
QPR v Bristol City
Wolves v Sheffield Wednesday