For those looking for some quantification, however subjective, of our chances of making the play-offs, an updated points per game and projected points total, after what has been a far from perfect but largely successful March (three wins and two draws out of five), sees us currently sitting in 10th place. A projected points total of 70.3 would see us fall short of sixth by three points. For the record, on this basis Peterborough and Hull take the automatic promotion places, while Sunderland, Lincoln, Doncaster and Ipswich (in that order) go into the play-offs.
For sure the end-result is going to be different from that, too many games to be played and too many permutations for any confident forecasts. But the main conclusion has to be that to date in March we have managed to keep ourselves in the picture, averaging a touch more than the two points per game we probably need to make the top six. Now with the exception of Oxford (and that penalty) this has been against teams in the lower half of the table. If we are going to keep going what can now be called a run we are going to need to up the performance levels as we come up against the better teams. Last night, for example, in 10 minutes we might have let in four goals, did let in two, and against better opposition it could have been game over.
Given that we have a gap to close to make the top six, it might be thought that it’s an advantage to be playing a number of the teams above and around us in our final 10 games. We still have to play Doncaster, Lincoln, Sunderland, Ipswich, Peterborough and Hull. But that’s not really the case. Unless we go on an entirely unlikely blistering run and beat all-comers we are not going to make the top two, or the top four. So playing the top four only means we will be up against good teams (for this division), at least on paper making the task of getting the points more difficult. Really we want to be playing the others in contention for the final play-off spot, to close the gap, and otherwise weak teams to (hopefully) rack up the points.
In that context the games against Doncaster and especially Ipswich loom large. Goes without saying we first need to take care of business against Wimbledon on Saturday, after which we can put our feet up and (hopefully) watch some of the others drop points. (I’m not sure but if the game against Crewe scheduled for 27 March is postponed due to internationals – a fellow Addick tells me it is but the club site and others are still showing it as going ahead – we don’t play again until 2 April.)
After 30 minutes of the game last night we would all have written off any lingering thoughts of the play-offs and instead turn attention to TS’ decision over our next manager. Now surely he has a dilemma. As long as the play-offs and promotion are a realistic possibility, which they are (still well short of an even bet), does he want to risk bringing in a new man or stick with JJ to the end of the season? I’m not persuaded there would be a ‘new manager bounce’; it might work in the Premiership, but why would you get one with 10 games left and the team reliant on loan players? Not questioning their professionalism but why would they go the extra mile for a new manager in such circumstances, whereas they played for Jackson last night.
Much depends I guess on whether TS already knows who he wants and whether that person might not be available for long. If that’s not the case, surely the best decision is to confirm Jackson for the remainder of the season – assuming of course that he doesn’t get an offer to join Lee Bowyer at Birmingham and accepts it. With Curbs as either formal or informal mentor, gives us the best chance I think of giving it a real go.
Not sure anything meaningful can be gleaned from the betting on who will be our next manager. Obviously most if not all have Jackson as favourite, while the odds on Michael Laudrup shortened quickly and Skybet, unlike others, has Nigel Adkins as joint favourite. Looks like Curbs and Chris Wilder have drifted out, perhaps on the basis that if it was to be either there would have been a quick announcement, perhaps just because nobody’s putting money on them. Nothing to do but wait.