|Behind Enemy Lines|
Written by tractordownsouth on Thursday, 17th Apr 2014 21:04
With the season nearly at its end, I decided to delve into the forums of our rivals, à la HarryfromBath!
"I fully expect at least one of us, Ipswich, Reading or Bournemouth to pick up 8+ points from the remaining games, which instantly rules out Blackburn and Watford even if they win every match."
"The Albion have disappointed us plenty of times this season and our form seems to swing back and forth on an almost match-by-match basis so I'm far from certain we will deliver."
"It's quite simple - Wigan, Albion, Reading, Ipswich and Bournemouth are competing for two spots, with Wigan strong favourites for one of them."
There was a lot of talk regarding their favourable run-in, although with contrasting opinions...
"Huddersfield game worries me a lot, not won in so many games , two defenders out , players falling out with Robins... just the game we will blow it. Huddersfield also are not safe so are targeting this to clinch it."
"I am now increasingly hopeful because I guarantee that EVERY other club in the pack would love to have our fixtures. You just can't buy an opportunity like Blackpool followed by Yeovil at this stage of the season."
There was an interesting statistic which makes pleasant reading for Albion's rivals.
"We have won three league games in a row once this season. We have won two league games in a row four times. I know we are coming in to form, but do people really think we could win the next four - making six wins on the trot? Seems unlikely to me. But a run of two wins, a draw/loss and another win might be possible."
Most fans were nervy but optimistic.
"I am now just PRAYING that we go to Forest in sixth place and with our fate in our hands, because Ipswich are at home to Sheffield Wednesday on the last day and will surely win if they have to."
"Another factor is promotion/play-off experience. We have this, Reading have this, Ipswich and Bournemouth don't."
"If I had to call it now, I think this is shaping up to be a last-day decider between us and Ipswich."
Due to their position, most fans expected a comfortable finish.
"We need a maximum of 10 points to be sure of a top six berth."
"We won't need 10 points. The other teams will drop points. We'll probably need a couple of wins."
"I don't believe the run-in matters. The play-off place is firmly in our hands, all we have to do is take it a game at a time to get as many points as we can."
"We are certainly the favourites. Brighton could catch us, they have an easy run-in. If we beat Reading it could finish them. They have not won since January, I believe. There is Ipswich too but I don't see them winning their final four."
There was a more cautious poster though.
"At this stage of the season, the remaining games are impossible to predict for any side. I'm sure there will be a few 'coupon busters' before the end."
There was a thread with the rather bizarre title "Do we want to win promotion?". He also commented that "It is hogwash that the Premier League was the only place to be."
Another fan echoed his views, surprisingly: "We cannot compete at the highest level."
However, many disagreed: "The top six are out of our reach in the Premier League, but the other fourteen we would be capable of beating."
"The Premier League IS the place to be, we have great memories, including two cup finals."
There were few threads concerning the run in, partly due to their position and the Wembley excitement.
Reading fans are the least optimistic of a positive finish. They have seen their five-point gap cut to just goal difference in just a week.
"The home form is a big big worry. We were in pole position and we're now right back in the pack and you have to say our confidence just looks far too fragile to go on any sort of convincing run."
"LOL @ our run-in. Burnley to come at home - a venue where a Reading player hasn't scored from open play since January - and a nailed-on loss at Wigan."
"If Brighton don't overhaul us on that basis then Oscar Garcia will have managed to do an even worse job at Brighton than Nigel Adkins's lame effort at Reading. Ipswich were nowhere last season so they have done OK just to be involved.Bournemouth have over-achieved in their first year up. Be nice to think we could pinch Eddie Howe when Adkins goes in the summer... but that would hardly be a step up for him."
"I look at Brighton's run-in and think... if they don't make the play-offs over us... they've really messed it up!"
Although most seemed to fancy Brighton, they were not the choice of everybody.
"Ipswich are the one to worry about pinching the last place."
"Bournemouth are very dangerous. Blackburn are very much outsiders but could potentially surprise us."
Bournemouth have had a revival after sitting in mid-table for a lot of the season. Promoted just last season, this is arguably the best time in their history, with Eddie Howe voted the greatest manager in their history.
"What a surreal 18 months! 24th April, just five years ago was the night that Fletcher scored that goal to keep us in the Football League. What an absolute rollercoaster in such a short time, I keep expecting to wake up and find it was just a lovely dream!"
"Just an outstanding time for the club, wont be to upset if we don't make them but wont it be a real bummer if we miss out on goal difference. When you think only two games really did the damage Watford and Huddersfield. Still looking on the positive side of life our glass is half full at the moment!"
"Everything from this point is a bonus. Out all of the teams our players will feel the pressure the least and that might play into our hands."
Despite their relatively small stature, the Cherries have proved to be no pushovers and have been praised for their attractive play. The fans are preventing themselves from getting carried away.
"I'm a little worried that some are thinking it's a real possibility and aim, those people will only feel disappointed by what has been a remarkable season. And that will be a shame. It's been a season to shout about."
Blackburn were out of the running until seven points from nine in April propelled them to within four points of the top six. They are still very much outsiders though and this is reflected with the majority of the views of their supporters.
"Realistically, we aren't going to make the play-offs. It's an outside chance that we do, and of course we should do what we always should do - try and win every game. Realism says we aren't going to, even if we win all our remaining home games and draw our remaining away games, that points total might not be enough given that Wigan would only need to win one and draw two to beat it and Reading to win two and draw two."
The biggest problem for me is the number of teams between us and that play-off spot. Even if we do get all twelve points, are all those clubs in between going to fall short as well?"
"You can go back over the season and pick up moments where we dropped a point or two and show how we could be higher in the table. But every team above us can do the same. It's not in our hands, but strange results are common in football. We need to aim to keep picking up points and make one of those other teams need results to stay above us."
"I guess the positive is that if we do make the play-offs we're going to be in fine form for them!"
"72 points and I will be happy. We just need a bit more fight about us like when Fat Sam was about."
Another disagreed and said Big Sam was "boring and unambitious".
In a bit of off-topic humour, another fan compared him to his successor.
"And next came Steve Kean, who was full of slapstick entertainment value, and who was extremely ambitious."
It was very interesting to compare the views of other clubs to our own. There are many different viewpoints, but with so much to play for, there are many teams still in contention and it is likely to go down to the final day, which will no doubt involve drama.
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