Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Relegation fodder

It is often said that any team facing a relegation threat needs to focus on its own results and not worry about those of others. That's good advice, particularly when Charlton are facing two tough matches. However, given the pessimism that afflicts fans about their own teams, there is a risk of thinking that every team below you is invincible and will win all their remaining matches, leaving aside that some of those matches will be against other relegation threatened teams.

It's not a level playing field in the Championship because many teams either have parachute payments, becoming even more generous from next year, or wealthy owners ready to splash the cash on the Cardiff Red Dragons etc. Parachute payments were originally intended to ease the transition from a higher level, although most teams now include relegation clauses in players' contracts. However, their size and duration is now such that they have a distorting effort, creating two categories of team in the Championship, those competing for the top flight and those seeking to keep away from the dreary confines of League 1.

So what of of some of the other teams looking over their shoulder? Huddersfield are one place below us but are 8th in the form table, whereas we are 17th (which could be our final position). Blackpool, one place below us in the form table and two in the actual table, could be in some risk. They have faced managerial upheaval and I am not convinced that Paul Ince is the man to get them out of trouble. Indeed, after the 0-1 home defeat to Peterborough, Ince admitted they are in a battle to avoid the drop.

Ipswich did manage to beat Bolton 1-0 in their last game. They have not been firing on all cylinders all season. I would be surprised if they were relegated, but they could finish below us. Blackburn are bottom of the table and their troubles have been well advertised. Their fans fear a second relegation in a row and one can see why. Whether 'global adviser' Shebby Singh can pull them around remains to be seen, but somehow I think that the end of season chicken barbecue will be marked by relief at escaping the drop.

Dave Flitcroft has won 10 games out of 16 since he took over at Barnsley and they are now 7th in the form table. Just below them in the real table are Sheffield Wednesday who are in the 'too big to go down' category and probably they are. Milan Mandaric is not without resources, but even his funds are dwarfed by some of the money available in Premiership 2.

Peterborough keep plugging away and they have soared up the form table. But I still have doubts about whether they can survive. As for Wolves, it seems to me that their season shows that constant changes of manager do not bring success, although some singularly odd choices have been made at Molineux. If they had kept Mick McCarthy, they might have been in contention for promotion.

As for Bristol City, Stephen Hargreaves is a wealthy man, having set up fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown with his business partner. However, there are limits to his wealth and when you take account of his interests in egg chasing and the difficulty encountered in finding a new home for City, one suspects that they may not escape relegation.

The next five matches look tough and a lot may depend on the last three. I can remember Wolves at home being vital before and it may just be a match we can win at home. Steve Gibson has to pay a £1m a month to keep Middlesbrough afloat and it isn't looking as if they are going to make the play offs. So mid-table mediocrity may be their lot by the end of the season, giving Charlton a chance to display their away skills. I just hope it doesn't all come down to Bristol City at home, as one can imagine a scenario where Bristol City have already been relegated and we need to beat them to be sure of staying up. Such challenges have not been unknown in Charlton's history. If you support the Addicks, it is a roller coaster ride.


Blucher said...

Wednesday have lost Antonio, their best forward, for the rest of the season, whilst Wolves will be without Sako ( their best player ), Edwards and their rather unfortunate goalkeeper, Ikeme. It is going to be very tight.

Disappointing to see the Brummies moving away from danger.

Although I was too young to go to this night match, I remember an excruciatingly nervous last game of the season in 1969/70, when we had to beat Bristol City in our last game of the season at the Valley and just scraped through 2-1. As you say, Wyn, let's hope it doesn't come to that.

I think we will be ok but Saturday's game will be vital, as we are more likely than not to lose at Brighton and a poor result against the Trotters will plunge us into a dogfight.

Stand by your beds !

Chris said...

It's funny, I also have memories of a classic last game of the season involving Bristol City. It was 1977, I was at Warwick University and I went to see Coventry play Bristol City in a game which would determine who was relegated. Coventry needed to win with a draw being enough for City. A nuance was that if Sunderland lost their last game of the season at Everton a draw would see both sides survive.

The ground was packed to the rafters, but critically, as it turned out, the kick -off was delayed by 20 minutes or so to accommodate the thousands of Bristol fans that had made their way up from the South West.

The atmosphere was electric, but Bristol's dream of survival seemed over when Coventry breezed into a 2-0 lead. They were down. Then suddenly, remarkably, it was 2-2 and Coventry were down. What drama. The atmosphere was intense and the pace frenetic.

Then the news that Everton had beaten Sunderland arrived in the Stadium. At 2-2 both teams were now safe!! The two sides then brought new meaning to the phrase "playing out a draw" as they each withdrew to their own halves of the field, stopped competing and awaited for the final whistle. Extraordinary.

What a game!! What tension. I'm praying that's not what we get at the Valley on May 4th!!!

Good article by the way. I'd be surprised if either Peterborough or Bristol City survive, but it's very open obviously. I'd like to see David Flitcroft complete the job at Barnsley, but I have a feeling that Barnsley will also drop. You can only work miracles for so long and their run-in looks tricky. Tomorrow's game at Hillsbrough is massive, both for them and for Wednesday.

Wyn Grant said...

Chris, you could be right about Barnsley, I have a feeling about them, but my Blade friend insists they are in the clear now. Any game involving Wednesday qualifies as massive. Interesting that you were at Warwick when I was already there.

Chris said...

Did an MA in Economics, specialising in International Economics, in 1976/77. It's obviously a long time ago now, but I recall being taught by Professors John Williamson, Alan Kirman (I think) and a visiting Professor from the US called Fred Raines. Rational expectations ruled OK!!

Anonymous said...

What a difference a month can make! We're certainly looking up with hope for a miracle now, rather than worringly down!