After the longest break we've had during a season that I can remember I find myself back at my keyboard looking for inspiration to produce a review of this game.
It has been so long since I watched us play I have forgotten exactly how we were playing. The results look good. We have won five and drawn four of our last nine. That would normally be Championship form, but Norwich and Colchester have been on an even better run, and Leeds seem to be the luckiest team in the history of football with their late goals this season. With the formula now looking like two from four I suspect that we are going to need to win most of our games until the end of the season - starting this Saturday.
Even as an obsessed fan I suspect that I am no more (and probably significantly less) aware of what is needed for us to secure automatic promotion. I'm not talking about the players we will need as that is a lot more subjective, but the number of points, and the specific games we must win (or not lose) must have been discussed by Parkinson and his management team.
It is, obviously, still in our hands. We have had a bit of a wobble, and had a run of draws in games that, in isolation, were not bad results. We need to win our game in hand over Norwich, we need to beat them at home and then match their results to the end of the season. I would have taken that in August. Colchester add to that stress as we pretty much need to match their results (assuming they win their game in hand) and depending on goal difference a draw at home to them may well be enough. Leeds are now nine points above us and even though they could have some issues if Beckford leaves, and/or they could easily turn their 'lucky' wins into defeats, but I'm going to stick my neck out here and predict that we will not catch them. That's ok though as we only need to finish second.
I know it is a little negative talking about only needing to finish second, but frankly there is little glamour in this division - especially after the Premier League years. I have enjoyed this season, taking big crowds to away games, playing with style and winning games against inferior opposition is good fun. However, make no mistake, should we require a second season in this division I will not find it at all exciting, and will not be looking forward to games like I have at times this season. Basically we NEED to finish in second place. The Playoffs would be exciting, but we are still considered to be a Big Club outside of the Premier League and with the current state of finances in English Football there will be a number of decent Championship players available on a free in the summer. The sooner we can guarantee our place in the Championship the sooner we can start making approaches to these players.
Anyway, all that is for another day. Saturday will be (rather like Walsall would have been) my fifth away game of the season. For someone that normally goes to one or two a season this is a significant number. I am not planning to make the trip to Walsall now so I may not make it to too many more away games this season, but it has been real fun. For the record the four games up to now have provided two wins and a draw. Seven points from a possible twelve. That's more than acceptable on the road and I have a sneaking suspicion that we will win tomorrow too.
Despite Wycombe's recent performances against Norwich and Leeds I felt that we were so much better than them back in August that we should have little trouble. Despite their two goals we had the game in the bag, and but for the hangover from the season before where we'd not been able to hold on to a win for love nor money, we looked comfortable enough to make me believe that should we be able to concentrate for a whole 90 minutes, we will run out winners.
We should have Daily back in the side, which will release Semedo into the midfield, where we really need him. I was very pleased to see Mooney signed on loan again. Originally I heard that it was for the rest of the season. I think he is likely to be very significant to our season, but I can only guess that this loan can be extended, hopefully it will be. There may, also, be some resolution to Leon McKenzie injury problems that will result in him having a run in the side before May. I'm convinced that he is the real deal, we just need to get him playing to find out. There have been suggestions about his lack of appetite. The type of player that is happy to be out injured just so long as he has a contract paying him a wage. Even if that is the case, at his age, he needs to play a few games to get himself another deal. Either way let's hope he does get fit enough to contribute.
When we played our first game of the last decade we were third and we went on to dominate the second half of the season and won the dvision at a canter in the end. History does repeat itself you know?
Up the Addicks!