Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Seven games to save our skin....

Last night the Tricky Trees slipped back down into the doldrums of the Championship bottom three. Normally a move into the relegation zone sounds alarm bells but supporters have been hearing those ever since two limp away day performances at Vicarage Road and Turf Moor.

Like all supporters the thought of the drop fills me with dread. We've seen League One, we've struggled there before and we cannot afford to return.

The question we're all pondering now is - have we got enough to stay up? I really can't decide the answer so i've decided to map out some pros and cons.

(I'll start with the negatives because I don't want to end the post on too much doom and gloom!)

Reasons to be fearful -
*Most teams toward the bottom seem to have gone through their 'bad run' and the likes of Norwich, Watford and Blackpool are showing they can pick up results when they need them most.

*All three of those teams plus Southampton, Plymouth and Barnsley have experience at this level that our team lacks. Several were also involved in last year's dogfight and may have the know-how to see them through.

*The 5-0 thumping at Burnley showed a worrying lack of fight at the 'business' end of the season. The players may say they won't be that bad again but they said that after Wolves away, Doncaster at home and Derby at home. These results/performances keep cropping up throughout the season and are proving damaging.

*The first team has not been settled in recent weeks. Partly due to injuries, partly due to poor form and partly due to Billy's frustration but the end result of it has been two disjointed displays.

*The talk of Lewis being unfit, Garner being out of favour and the way Billy is speaking about some of the players' attitude is a worry. The squad have got to stick together - at least until the summer.

*Billy's loan signings have been good but have come late in the day. Everyone else signed players in January and have bedded them into their teams. We haven't got time for new players, who haven't played for their parent clubs for some time, to settle, we need them to perform now.

*Wolves at home, Sheffield United away could be tough and the pressure of Southampton at home would be massive for our team if it goes to a final day face off.

Reasons to be hopeful -

*As we learnt last year, timing is everything. It's not about where we are now but where we might be in 7 games. We can hope that Norwich may do the same thing as us and slip back down before the seasons out. Our recent record toward the end of seasons has been relatively decent.

*Gary McSheffrey, Chris Gunter and Isaiah Osbourne's additions have added depth and quality to the squad and should start to reach their best for the final few games.

*Robert Earnshaw does have the ability to score the goals that can keep us up. Earnie has got the firepower - we just need to give him the chances he needs.

*We still have Barnsley, Blackpool and Southampton to play. These games could be crucial and despite my perception that we play better against the top teams six of our ten wins this season have been against fellow strugglers, two against mid table teams and just two against promotion challengers.

*Billy is a battler. He won't want to go down and if he can instil his feisty spirit into the players we'll become a tougher team all round. He obviously has a vision for the future and I'm confident he could make us into a better team at this level next time around. I think he feels he can do that too and will be desperate to cling on to this division to carry his plan through.

I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons for either side of the argument and to be honest i'm still not convinced either way.

One thing is definite - it's going to be another nervous end to the season on Trentside.....