Early March last year the International Bloggers were in town for our game against Preston, and we met for a beer before the game along with a number of UK based bloggers.
It was a nice occasion. Many of the bloggers already knew each other, but it enabled me to put a few faces to some names, both real and pen, and I would like to think that I have started friendships that I will keep for many years.
That was, unfortunately, the only good thing to come out of the day. We were poor. Preston were struggling (all be not as badly as we are now) and we were (honestly) still in with a chance of top two, just, (6 points off with 56 points after 36 games) and we were 5th in the table. Preston, on the other hand were 5th from bottom with 40 points from 36 games. This was a banker home win in last season's fixture. I wish we had 40 points now!
The result, for those of you that don't remember was 2-1 to Preston. We really were poor that day. Preston just wanted it more than we did.
This was an opportunity for us to establish ourselves in the play off positions with two tough away games to come. We lost those games at Burnley and Ipswich and fell out of the top six and never got back there. Had we beaten Preston we might have been able to approach those two away games with a less aggressive approach (and more confidence) and the outcome of last season could have been very different. However, I'm sure you could make a decent case for just about all of our defeats last season being instrumental.
I'm not one for revenge, nor am I one for 'football justice' but it would be poetic if we were to beat Preston on Saturday to put the brakes on their promotion challenge. I don't think we will win, of course, but right now I'm not sure we could beat a team of school boys. The side are so bereft of structure, confidence and stability that I just cannot see us facing a team with sufficient lack of talent and/or motivation again this season that we can beat.
At this point, as has been mentioned elsewhere, we are potentially only two games from it being all over. I am confident that we will lose those two games, the only really question is can Norwich or Forest pick up two wins? The truth is that it no longer matters. Save for a team going into administration we need to win four of our last eight games to avoid finishing bottom, while the team we catch would have to lose all their remaining games. We've only won 7 in 38.
I have no justification in wanting to win this game any more than any other, but for some reason (probably down to last season's debacle and the extreme cost of attendance by some of my, then, new friends) I really want to win this one.
What I want and what happens, however, are rarely the same.
Up the Addicks!