Wolves- The Battle For Survival
It hardly seems worth bothering with predictions any more when you put the Wigan and West Ham results against the Manchester City and Liverpool ones but we are all scratching our heads so let`s revisit the Fight for Premiership Survival and try to make some sense of it.
18 points from 20 games leaves us bottom and the optimism we kicked off the season with has truly and rightfully vanished. You look at the likes of Birmingham and Fulham who have won 3 games all season and they are both a point above us having notched up 10 draws each. Points per game, we know it's better to win one and lose one than draw both so is this going to be the manner of our next 18 games? I`d happily, okay not 'happily` watch us lose 9 games but I`m sure we could deal with it if we won the other 9 (because it would put us on 45 points). Do I think we can or will win 9 games? No
It's hard to figure out how many points will keep teams up considering how unpredictable this season is proving so you would want to play it safe and aim for the point per game total which I think would prove more than enough, as it did last season. That would leave us needing to take 20 points from 18 games- it really shouldn`t prove that difficult should it? But that's still 7 wins, or 5 and a couple of draws (which is a bit more realistic) and I believe attainable- they can still go ahead and lose another 11 (which is also likely).
I said West Ham, Wigan & Blackpool at the start of the season. A few weeks ago, to general disagreement (!) I said Blackpool were staying up. They've since won 1-0 at Stoke, 2-0 at Sunderland and lost 1-0 to Manchester City. They've also played less games than anyone so with 25 points they have probably only got to win 3 more from their remaining 20. Their next three games see them play Birmingham, Liverpool & Albion all of which they can win. The way they are going they will most likely be safe by February and if that is the case they can give Holloway the Manager of the Year award there and then.
So, who do we think will end up in the Championship?
I`ll put my neck on the line by sticking with Wigan & West Ham which might amuse their fans considering recent results but so be it- they`ve both played us twice now (grand return of one point for us) so let`s see how many other teams are as generous as we have been.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I said that would leave us looking to finish above the likes of a Fulham or a Birmingham which was also sniffed at but they have still only won 3 games each and I think they will both struggle along to the final run in.
So, who else- Albion had put a good number of points on the board 16 games in but 4 defeats in a row drags them right back into the thick of it. Villa own this season`s classic 'too good to go' label but I don`t think you`ll find too many Villa fans taking the thought of relegation lightly considering they have won one of their last nine and have on plenty of occasions looked pretty awful. If I could have my wish however, it would be Newcastle simply for the Hughton sacking. Their plight is very similar to Albion's- they'd enjoyed a good start to the season but they have now won one from their last eight, and that was against Liverpool, everyone's new favourite team to play!
I had even mentioned Liverpool in the 'who should be worried' article although their inclusion at the time was 99% tongue in cheek. Since then Old Roy has had the wisdom to slag off the fans, as a collective, fans who didn't even like him in the first place, so in my book he is fighting what had almost from his appointment taken the look of a battle he couldn`t win. Even brighter news for Ol Roy is that United (cup) and a Mersey derby are right around the corner. It's going to get worse before it gets better, but I would say he will be on his way within a fortnight and whoever steps in can`t do much worse and they will be fine.
So, there' still 8 or 9 teams there who are not doing much better than we are and putting the disappointment of our latest defeat to one side for a minute, we are still only two points away from safety. If by some miracle we beat Chelsea, we could find ourselves as high as 15th. A win on Wednesday would eclipse the Manchester City triumph and both the manager and players will take a mighty step towards correcting the recent defeats to Wigan and West Ham.
If we are going to stay up we are certainly not doing ourselves any favour's putting ourselves in positions where we need to beat the Manchester City`s, the Liverpool`s and the Chelsea`s just to stay in sight of 17th. The West Ham`s, the Wigan`s and the Fulham`s are beating us. Birmingham, Albion, Newcastle, Villa are amongst those ahead of us, and if we carry on losing to those around us it won`t take a rocket scientist to work out at least one of the teams that will be playing Championship football next season.
This was written shortly after the West Ham defeat- there have been results since but you get the guts of the article.
We will be hearing from our relegation rival editor's soon over a short series of articles and interviews. Looking forward to hearing from them and when we do, be sure to hit up the forum to share your thoughts as the bigger picture unfolds and we are soothed to learn we aren't the only fans in the country pulling our hair out at our present plight.
Keep the Faith.
New York City Wolf.