Ahead of our next cup final, think it’s worth updating the points-per-game and projected totals, just to put our position into context. We have, of late, got the results we needed to and we are for sure in the mix for a play-off place. We are still considered by the bookies not favourite to end in the top six, plenty of work still to be done. Starting tomorrow.
The midweek results were not bad for us, but they could have been better, largely because Lincoln won. Having been on a poor run of results and having had an enforced Covid-related break (including the postponement of our game against them), I was hoping they would be off the pace and fade away. They were after all the team in sixth place and our clearest target. Instead they trounced MK Dons 4-0. Others, most obviously Portsmouth, did come up short. Again, could have been worse.
Leaving aside the top three - for the record Hull are on course for 88/89 points and top spot, with Peterborough just behind on 87, Sunderland having fallen away to a projected 82 but still firmly cemented in third – Lincoln are now on course to amass 77/78 points and fourth spot, Blackpool 76/77 and fifth, with Portsmouth hanging on to sixth spot on 74/75. Our points-per-game – which had fallen as low as 1.419 at end-February – is now up to 1.590, giving a projected points total of 73 and seventh place. Others – including Lennie Lawrence it seems – have been flagging the 75 points total as the magical goal, but that number only gives you a decent chance of a play-off spot, doesn’t guarantee one.
The usual proviso: of course things are going to change with each round, still too many points up for grabs to draw any firm conclusions. But note that even if we beat Lincoln in our game that’s not sufficient to get us above them. One possible positive from Sunderland falling away from the top two is that – in an ideal world – Hull and Peterborough might be inclined to feel their job is done when we come to play them, rather than being in a three-way scrap for two automatic places. Probably wishful thinking.
One game at a time for sure. Absolutely no grounds for any complacency tomorrow just because Ipswich are on a poor run and were publicly criticised by their manager. Tomorrow’s game is pretty much last-chance saloon for them, they have to beat us. That could make them dangerous opponents.
I’ve been musing on whether we are benefiting from an ‘Adkins effect’, whether he’s just been lucky – or both (and if luck was good enough for Napoleon it’s good enough for me). It would seem clear that the change of manager has revitalised what had probably become a stale environment (I didn’t want Bowyer to go not with any thoughts about promotion this season but on him being our best bet to go up next season).
I do think Adkins has had fortune on his side, primarily with the return of Inniss. We do not have another like him and quite clearly the defence is more comfortable with him as the central element. Injuries have I think also helped to make some of Adkins’ decisions for him. If Famewo had been fit, would he be partnering Inniss or would the captain Pearce have kept the shirt? And probably more important, Washington was on a roll when he got injured. Without him, and with Schwartz not a viable option to start, that really only left Stockley and Aneke. That perhaps forced Adkins into going for one up top. Once you have that in mind, you look to what elements you can bring to make that a productive formation. Now, with Chuks probably still sidelined for tomorrow, we have to hope and pray that Stockley continues to work his socks off and doesn’t pick up a knock.
Nevertheless, if someone had told me we’d be going with one up front, one either side of him, and a midfield three, I would have expected both Shinnie and Millar to have been in the starting X1. Adkins, perhaps coming in with an open mind and deciding on what he saw on the training ground, chose Gilbey over Shinnie and Jaiyesimi over Millar. Those were big calls and so far at least they’ve paid off, even to the extent of Gilbey starting to show us what we hoped he would when he joined. Tough on the other two, but that’s the way it goes – and they are of course both still in the thick of it, rather it’s been Morgan and Smith sidelined so far.
With Maddison’s problems in the news, discussion of Schwartz’s difficulties in adjusting to his new surroundings, and Gilbey’s resurgence, it has perhaps been sobering to reflect on how a footballer’s fortunes can change, and perhaps how little sympathy is given to their troubles when things are not going well. Being paid handsomely doesn’t mean everything else is fine; and we do indeed live in strange times.
On a more upbeat note, belated congratulations to the club’s new fan adviser Lucy Bishop, and to Curbs for the well-deserved honour of having the East Stand renamed after him (I’d also like to congratulate those who won prizes in the streaming raffle but as I won nothing I’ll pass). Good of TS to respond to the campaign over the stand renaming, but perhaps now we can take up another similar cause. I think it would be great to have one of the urinals in The Valley renamed ‘the Duchatelet urinal’. As a fellow Addick pointed out, only problem would be the queue for that one.