There’s still all to play for, but the play offs are going to be difficult. Sunderland simply have to beat Portsmouth if we are to gain promotion and there’s been a lot of criticism of Sunderland with only a couple of wins in the last five games. If Sunderland have gone off the boil recently, so have Portsmouth and both teams have been lacklustre of late, to say the least. I suppose that gives us a bit of hope.
Let’s be Portsmouth’s Nemesis this time round.
But we have come fifth in the league this season when last year we suffered our second consecutive relegation. I thought it not beyond a possibility that we’d go down again this season, so getting into the play offs has not been such a bad result. Supporters have been glad to see 22 wins this season, but, disappointingly, we’ve had 19 draws: drawn games against teams many of which we ought to have beaten. However, we’ve only lost 5 games, the lowest number of losses in the division and that’s something to be proud of.
I think one of our troubles this season is that we’ve often got in front and not been able to kill the game, whilst letting in too many late equalisers. The team, as it stands, still has a fragile look to me and it might not be bad for us to stay in League One for another season. I really don’t know. The question is, is the present squad good enough to succeed in the Championship? Perhaps, but I have my doubts. We’d need to tidy our defence and be much more positive in attack.
If we go up, Jack Ross will have to spend the summer getting the team to play better and, hopefully, strengthening our defence and getting a high calibre striker. I wonder if Defoe fancies a return? At least, we seem to have solved the goalkeeping problem. We need, though, to give a big thank you to Jack Ross and the new owners - it would be churlish to grouse too much if we don’t bounce straight back up to the Championship. For those who continue to be very critical, just think back to the days of Ellis Short, Martin Bain, Margaret Byrne, David Moyes, Rodwell and that sizeable number of very expensive players who took the Mickey, drew their incredibly high salaries just for kicking the ball about a bit or standing watching on Saturday afternoons.
It was on Margaret Byrne’s watch that some of these spectacularly useless players who were spectacularly bad buys came to the club. At least if we don’t go up this season, we’ve put all of that behind us. The club seems calmer and better run, the players seem more committed and that, for the present, might just have to do for our rehabilitation. But promotion wouldn’t come amiss. Oh, and good luck to Luton and Barnsley. They’ve been just a bit more consistent than us and deserve their success.