A few weeks ago, it seemed impossible. The season was over; relegation threatened to engulf us but the 1 – 0 win over Derby County put an end to that. Follow that with another four wins and suddenly the whiff of the play-offs is in the air.
I’m all for a bit of optimism but really? Eleven points off the pace with just eight games to go makes me wonder if too much oxygen has been inhaled following the winning run! Even with all the fantastic deals they offer, footballbets.tips wouldn’t be able to find you promising odds on Villa reaching the play-offs.
Our problem is that the remaining matches only offer up two of the top six and one of them we can’t realistically catch. I’m all for taking Brighton on for the season’s final fixture full of hope but the Seagulls will probably be up by then anyway.
Which leaves just Reading as sacrificial lambs. The 2 – 0 win over Sheffield Wednesday was vital but we didn’t beat Leeds or Huddersfield, taking two points out of twelve in those fixtures. They among the many other points we dropped have ruined our promotion prospects.
At this point I could paraphrase Lassard from the Police Academy films: the many, many, many other points that we dropped…
A strong finish to the season may see us begin next year as promotion favourites but could we match this season? Not likely and more to the point, I don’t think we possess a squad which is ready to fight for its’ Premier League survival.
Roberto Di Matteo’s vision was matched by Dr Tony’s chequebook at the start of the season. Now, we’re reaping what they sowed. Good players have seen their confidence broken and it took six months to return. Experienced? Yes, but lacking proper managerial guidance, they struggled.
They even struggled when Bruce arrived. It’s picking up and that’s the main point. A strong finish to the season may influence the manager’s activity in the transfer window this summer but I’d like to see additions to the squad in every position; we could end up with 15 in, 20 out at this rate!
Encouragingly, we have some good wins recently; is there such a thing as a bad one? Beating Sheffield Wednesday and Derby tells us that the squad is capable of matching the lower reaches of the play-off places, as well as the ‘upper’ mid-table. It’s not a big jump to move into the top six in one summer.
Whether Dr Tony’s naïve enthusiasm will support Bruce’s ambitions in the transfer window is an interesting test. Moving into the top two is another matter but frankly, winning the title is nice but promotion by any means works for me.
I’m already looking forward to a genuine promotion challenge next season!