After last weekend, we’re still no clearer about who will be playing in the promised land next season, but I’m going to rule out any of the sides outside the top four for automatic promotion. Derby are six points off the pace with twelve points left to play for and the situation is similar for Ipswich, Brentford and Wolves.
Of course, things could change but I don’t think they will. For what it’s worth, I’ve still got Bournemouth winning the title by a point but Norwich and Watford are practically inseperable after that.
At the bottom, the situation took an unexpected turn yesterday morning when the Football League confirmed that Rotherham loanee Farrend Rawson should not have played against Brighton on Easter Monday. Rotherham are still seven points clear of Wigan and Millwall, but it remains to be seen what punishment the Millers will receive for what appears to be an administrative oversight. I doubt very much if there’ll be a points deduction, but stranger things have happened.
It’s with much rejoicing that this is the last midweek programme of the season. I don’t like them at all; for all the talk of a ‘winter break’, one of the other aspects that is often ignored is how European club sides play fewer games anyway. There are only usually one or two catch up midweek games a month in the top divisions and the only second tier competition comparable in volume to the Championship is Serie B, which has two fewer clubs, starts in August, finishes at the end of May and has a playoff final in the middle of June. Yet if anyone introduced the idea of reducing the championship to twenty or eighteen teams the clubs would be up in arms about the loss of revenue from six fewer games.
Anyway, the only game of any real consequence this evening is between Millwall and Wigan. Two years ago yesterday, they faced each other in an FA Cup semi final that Wigan won on their way to becoming the first club to win the FA Cup and be relegated in the same season. Next season these two may be facing each other in League One – if there’s a loser team tonight, they’re as good as down.
The Lions lost again at the weekend; since Christmas they’ve lost six of their ten home games and failed to score in half of them. At this stage last season they’d won three more points and had begun the eight game undefeated streak that saw them reach safety, but it looks incredibly unlikely that Millwall’ll repeat that feat this season. All of their remaining games after this one are against sides in the top half of the table. And in that classic indicator of a poor side, so far 26 different players have featured for Millwall this season and only veteran goalkeeper David Forde has been an ever present.
Wigan’s position is even more precarious. They’ve played one more game than Millwall and despite having only lost three of their ten away games since Christmas, their home form almost defies description. Their last home victory was at the end of August: since the start of December, the Latics have lost ten of their 12 games at the DW in the Championship and failed to score in eight of those contests. Then there are these rather bleak facts; in ten visits to Millwall since the early 1980s, Wigan have only ever won once. Leading scorer James McClean has almost twice as many yellow cards (11) than he has goals (6).
Unless there’s news about a possible promotion from League One later, I’ll be back on Friday. There’s a huge game at the top plus Reading attempt to reach the FA Cup Final for the first time.
Update: Bristol City have been promoted from League One after two seasons away. I’ll cover what happened at Millwall on Friday, but a home win and three red cards made it an eventful evening in Bermondsey…