What a difference a week makes…
This time seven days ago, this preview piece was full of optimism, looking forward to a tough but winnable home game against Charlton and a trip with Wigan on the horizon. To say things didn’t exactly go to plan would be something of an understatement.
We’ve gone from having our fate in our own hands and being within spitting distance of the automatics to being back where we were in early to mid-March but with a lot fewer games left. Today’s game, away to in-form Blackpool, will be the first time we’ve met this season due to Covid-induced postponements and the odd international break.
Before the last two games, I was looking forward to playing them. Sure, they’ve been hyped up, but we were ahead in both the actual and form tables. Now, we’re only ahead in one of those. Admittedly, it’s the one that matters, but it also points to this game being both tougher and more important than it looked a week ago.
Our margin for error with the teams above us has gone and we’re relying on them dropping points again. That in itself isn’t too much of an issue for me. As I mentioned last week, there is very little that worries me about either side, especially when it comes to consistency and resilience. Both have had wobbles similar to our own in the not too distant past.
The issue is the lack of games left and the number of points they are ahead of us – Sunderland have to keep winning and hope for the best. We can’t look to merely ‘take a point’ at Bloomfield Road today, as we might have been able to if we’d taken, say, four points from the Charlton and Wigan games (rather than the still slightly unbelievable zero we ended up with).
That’s not to say we won’t win this lunchtime. We have more than enough to beat this Blackpool side. It’s a massively overused cliché, but a reaction to the past two results is an absolute must. It may not be enough, but it has to happen. There’s form for the play-offs to consider if nothing else, but I also firmly believe we’ll be given another chance by one of Hull or Peterborough between now and the season’s end. We need to be in a position to take it.
Automatic promotion is not gone yet, and the road to redemption starts here. Win today and it might, just might, be back on.
HA’WAY THE LADS