The Final Countdown
Forum member, Abel writes...
The Final Countdown
As Europe sang in their 80s 'one hit wonder`, "it`s the final countdown duh duh duh duh" etc. That`s right; there are only nine games to go until it`s finally decided who goes up, who goes down, who stays up, and perhaps most importantly of all for us Blackpool fans; who makes the playoffs.
For old and young fans alike, it`s certainly been the most exciting season for a long, long time and Mighty fans across the world will have everything crossed over the next two months, hoping that Simon Grayson`s side can at last make a return to the upper echelons of English football.
While most fans would have happily taken stability and a mid table finish this term, there will definitely be an air of disappointment around the club if we fail to make the top six; especially after Saturday`s win against fellow promotion hopefuls Yeovil.
So, can we make the playoffs and more importantly, will we make the playoffs?
The answer to the first question is 'yes'; you don`t get to be sixth in the league with nine games to go if you`re not a good side. The answer to the second question… well, if I knew that, then I`d be a very rich man!
This is the stage of the season where the form books goes out of the window; teams at the bottom battle and scrap away for the three points while teams at the top let nerves get the better of them and drop points to teams with nothing left to play for. Still, the remainder of the fixture list should give us a decent guide as to where the Pool and our rivals will pick up their remaining points from.
This week sees us face two away games in Yorkshire; Bradford and Rotherham. Both teams are struggling and battling away for points at the bottom of the table. Add in the factors that Bradford beat Bristol City last week and Rotherham won at the weekend, and suddenly these two games don`t look as easy as they do on paper. Still, we have a good away record of late and if we play to our best, then we`re more than capable of picking up two wins out of two here.
We then end the month with a home game against Crewe, whose charge towards the playoffs appears to have been halted in their last couple of games. Still, I`m told that they`re playing well at the moment, but with both Luke Varney and Nicky Maynard out, are struggling to put the ball in the back of the net. If our defence remains in the form it`s been and those two are out for said game, then this game is certainly a very winnable one.
April opens with us facing a massive game at Bloomers against our 'friends` from the Wirral, Tranmere. There is no doubt that this is going to be a huge game and one that could well dictate who makes the playoffs and who misses out. A home game against Northampton and a trip to Cheltenham then follow; two games that we really should be looking to take maximum points from, but indeed, two games where it could be very easy to drop points.
After all that though, it could well come down to the last two games of the season; Scunthorpe at home and Swansea away on the final day; a game that could well be 'win or bust`.
As we proved on their patch, we`re more than capable of beating Scunthorpe (who have been grinding out the wins since Adkins took over) and a similar performance to the one back in December coupled with home advantage will hopefully see us pick up something here. However, it is worth noting that Scunthorpe could either a) have won the league by this point and be playing a few fringe players who need matches in order to get or medal, or the more likely scenario, b) that they still need point(s) to confirm top spot and be going all out for the win.
Looking to the Swansea game, I personally hope that everything`s settled by then because I`d hate for my ticker (even at my young age!) to be put through such a game, where one mistake or one bad decision could win/cost you everything. Either way, I`m sure that they`ll be a massive following at this game from the Pool faithful, with the fans cheering the lads on whatever the result.
Although after Saturday`s win our fate is now in our own hands, it is worth looking at our rivals` remaining fixtures as well, as we could yet well rely on other teams to get results for us.
Scunthorpe have home games against Bradford, Yeovil, Huddersfield and Carlisle, whilst playing Orient, Northampton, Tranmere and of course ourselves. Personally, I think that they`ll pick up around seventeen points from their remaining eight games.
Bristol City have home games against Forest, Swansea, Yeovil and Rotherham and have to travel to Doncaster, Gillingham, Carlisle and Millwall; arguably the toughest run in of all the top teams. My prediction: around seventeen points as well.
Notts Forest have Cheltenham (H), Bristol C (A), Millwall (A), Rotherham (H), Brentford (A), Bournemouth (H), Orient (A) and Crewe (H). My prediction: around 18 points.
Yeovil face Chesterfield (H), Oldham (A), Scunthorpe (A), Orient (H), Bristol C (A), Rotherham (H), Doncaster (H) and Gillingham (A). My prediction: around 10 points.
Meanwhile, I can see Oldham picking up around seventeen points from their remaining games of Brentford (A), Yeovil (H), Huddersfield (H), Bradford (A), Cheltenham (H), Crewe (A), Brighton (A) and Chesterfield (H).
Tranmere have Bournemouth (A), Carlisle (H), ourselves away, Brighton (H), Millwall (A), Scunthorpe (H), Crewe (A) and Brentford (H). My prediction for them is about 16 points.
Swansea: Northampton (H), Millwall (A), Bristol C (A), Port Vale (H), Bournemouth (A), Brighton (H), Carlisle (A) and us on the last day. My prediction for the Swans: around 15 points.
Finally, to the last of our challengers in my opinion; Doncaster (I think it`s now too late for the likes of Millwall to gatecrash the top six). I can see them picking up around fifteen points from their remaining fixtures of Bristol City, Millwall, Brentford, Northampton (all home), Chesterfield, Brighton, Orient and Yeovil (all away).
If my maths is correct, that would leave us requiring around a further sixteen points to make the top six (with Scunthorpe finishing on around 92, Bristol C 88, Forest 85, Oldham 80, Tranmere 75, Yeovil 74, Swansea 73 and Doncaster 69); five wins and a draw from the nine remaining games. Personally, I`ve got us down to have picked up about 13 points by the time we play Scunthorpe at home; meaning that I think we`ll need a result in one of our last two matches.
Of course, these are simply one person`s predictions and other people will have their own. Remember though that predictions count for nothing, but results do.
We`ve got nine cup finals from now until the end of the season (with the potential of a further three after that) and I don`t care how we go about picking up the points as long as we do pick them up, so let`s really get behind the lads and support them all the way to Wembley hopefully; you know you want to.