Written by tractordownsouth on Wednesday, 9th Apr 2014 19:10
By this point, most fans have usually lost interest, with the Blues sitting in lower mid-table the campaign begins to peter out.
The new season comes, followed by crushing disappointment as we discover that most of our new recruits cannot hit a barn door and our blindly optimistic predictions of promotion fail to come to fruition. A pattern usually forms, with a long winless run resulting in a managerial change every other season.
This season has been different. Town now have a man in charge with outstanding Championship pedigree. After staving off almost certain relegation by succeeding the hapless Paul Jewell, Mick McCarthy and Terry Connor have transformed the club and are now within just two points of the play-off positions.
With the top four sides out of sight, it leaves the remaining clubs scrapping for the last two top-six berths, and with it a chance of promotion to the promised land.
Doncaster H 12th April
Our away trip to Doncaster in December was one of the best results of the season, partly due to pathetic defending by our opposition (cheers lads!) with David McGoldrick netting a brace to put us in serious contention for the first time this campaign.
Since this turning point, we have been sniffing around the play-offs but Rovers have been fighting off relegation and are only four points clear of the bottom three.
It also worth mentioning that they have an away record that makes Jim Magilton's class of 2008 look like good travellers. Their danger man is one-time target Billy Sharp, and knowing our luck he will most likely silence the Portman Road crowd with a goal.
This a crucial match for both teams, but if we play well we should certainly manage the three points against a side who could well be rubbing shoulders with Gillingham and Crawley Town next term.
Watford A 19th April
Watford? Are you joking? We face our bogey team against whom we have only managed one win since 2004 (under our old mate Jewell, funny old game...) at a crucial time of the season. Great news!
I really do not know what it is with Watford, they have been an average side at best until the last few seasons. They are play-off dark horses, and will sit just two points behind providing they win their game in hand, although it will not have been played by the time we meet at Vicarage Road.
We had the misfortune of meeting them at the end in a bad run of form and under new manager Giuseppe Sannino after Gianfranco Zola could not cope without the entire Udinese squad to pick a team from (to think they sacked Sean Dyche!) and could only manage a 1-1 draw on the back of three straight wins. Unfortunately, I can see our old enemies grabbing a victory, which will ultimately mean nothing for them.
Bournemouth H 21st April
A. Must. Win. This is arguably the most important remaining fixture. Sadly, gone are the early days when Eddie Howe's men would turn up and get trounced 6-1 away, but seal a plucky home win the next week to steer clear of the relegation battle.
They now mean business. They are top of the form table, with only one defeat in their last six. They have recently secured very good victories against Reading and Queens Park Rangers. I think that it could be a magical afternoon at Portman Road, however.
I can see us giving them an early lead but grabbing an equaliser before a Cresswell cross comes off Big Frank, whilst he is doing his laces (or velcro, for that matter) to send us into delirium and giving us a chance going into our final two fixtures, and a reason for more pointless forum threads about the teams we can catch (if they lose against them and we win that...)
Burnley A 26th April
Burnley. Jammy beggars. Jay Rodriguez leaves, up steps Charlie Austin. He himself leaves, then Sam Vokes and Danny Ings suddenly become goal machines. To think we were stuck with a bunch of has-beens and a gambling addict who was sent to America on a yoga course as part of his rehab.
Anyway, back to the game. By this point we will be in an optimistic mood, in with a realistic chance of a play-off place since we were graced with legends such as Veliche Shumulikoski and Stephen Bywater in the side, playing Burnley at the right time, when they are already promoted, thinking of their sunbeds in the Caribbean, a pay rise and the Premier League. I think this should aid our cause, but they still have a strong enough squad to prevent us from taking all three points.
Predicted table going into final fixtures
Full calculated predictions.
6 Reading 69 +14
7 Ipswich. 68 +7
8 Bournemouth. 68 +2
9 Brighton. 66 +9
By this point the others are mathematically out of the running, barring Blackburn who require an unrealistic nine-goal swing and those above to all avoid winning.
Sheffield Wednesday H 3rd May
The sun shines on Portman Road as Luke Chambers leads our boys out into a cauldron of noise. The stadium is packed. At half-time, all is well, we are dominating and looking like making a breakthrough.
Just into the second half, Bournemouth take the lead at Millwall and time is running out as we need to find a winner to usurp both the Cherries and Reading.
In a blast from the past, Mick throws on Alan Lee with 20 minutes to go, who shoots past the goalkeeper to give us the lead and, as it stands, the final play-off place.
The whistle blows. However, they play on at the Madejski, and deep into stoppage time, the home team win a penalty. They convert it to give them the last place in the play-offs and it is a case of so near, yet so far for us as the pitch invasion is halted. We then go on to watch Reading win at Wembley and secure a top four finish and a place among Europe's elite
Final league position - Seventh
I may be exaggerating Reading's fate and would be amazed if the final day was as dramatic as that, but its a gripping story! I think that even a top ten finish would be superb progress for us.
Looking ahead to next season, I think we will be in a similar position. Although many are expecting a comfortable top-six finish next season, I am refusing to get carried away and trying to be more realistic (bit of a contradiction from my story but hey ho!) due to our finances.
I think Paul Taylor will be sold and Carlos Edwards will probably leave. Hopefully, Marcus Evans will give Mick McCarthy more financial backing than the mere £20,000 allowed to buy a player we had never heard of. I think the experience of a play-off race will be a vital to give us a better chance next season.
I hope you have enjoyed my blog. Although exaggerated and littered with bad jokes, the general predictions are my real opinion.
Please your thoughts below!
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