This Week in Football by Ivor Heller
I want to start today’s blog just by slam-dunking the FA Cup. I have to. What I saw this weekend is getting very close to the death Knell ringing for the competition. I’ve had enough of it. How you can blood 5 teenagers at Stamford Bridge in the 5th Round of the FA Cup is beyond me. I don’t care what the schedules are; I don’t care about any excuses. I am mourning the loss of a great competition. And I am mourning something that has been lost in football and that is a respect for the establishment in this country and what football really stands for.
In my opinion one way to deal with this and make life better for everybody involved is to implement a rule which we see each season in the Johnstone’s paint trophy. Every team should have to start 6 of their previous starting 11. In other words Manchester City should have been forced to start 6 of the team that lost to Tottenham last week against Chelsea this weekend.
It is well within living memory when a team like us would be playing a big club in the FA Cup and the only 11 players that were considered were the starting 11, it used to be so important to club seasons. The other thing that would fix this immediately, but unfortunately the bigger clubs would never agree to this, is to take the 4th Champions League place and give it to the winners of the FA Cup. You would then see a massive change in the attitude of the big clubs and you would see a real positive change to the competition.
It would be wonderful if something happened that gave something back to the real football fans that give their Saturdays week in and week out. 7200 West Ham fans went to Blackburn on Sunday; West Ham Fans still get the FA Cup. Congratulations to them for getting through.
Now, on to dear old division 2. Things are panning out the way I hoped they would… Obviously our win away at Barnet was a screamer because Barnet have one of the best home records in the league. As Martin Allen very graciously came out and said we were deserved winners.
Over the coming weeks lots of the top teams will be playing each other, if we can keep winning then this league is in our hands. If we add a couple more wins on this run then silly things can start happening. That will be funny! If this run of form can continue through our tough matches in the coming months then something silly could be on the cards. Watch this space!
Generally results panned out as expected this weekend but result of the week and team of the season, team of the century even, was Accrington winning 2–1 away at Oxford. Unbelievable how they just keep going and going, all credit to them it’s quite incredible.
So as I’ve had a crack at predicting the Championship and League 1 in past weeks it’s time for me to nail my nuts to the mast and give my predictions for League 2.
I’m going to start by saying that Northampton will go on and win the league. I also believe that Plymouth have enough points in the bag now to go on and gain promotion with them.
If there is a team from the top 3 that is going to falter it is going to be Oxford. If there is a team that will go on and win that place it is going to be Portsmouth, although they have a fair margin to make up. My gut feeling is that with Paul Cook at the helm Pompey have another very good run in them.
As for making the playoffs I am convinced that we will make the playoffs, our current form over the last few matches has been solid and I’m convinced that will continue. In an ideal world Portsmouth wouldn’t end up taking that promotion place and we would end up Playing Portsmouth in the final at Wembley. If that were to happen we would be talking about a 60,000 plus crowd with loads of money for us. If we won and got promoted the money would add a serious amount to our budget for league 1 and if we lost it would add enough money to our budget to challenge in League 2 again next season.
It’s so hard to predict but I’m going for Northampton, Plymouth and Pompey for automatic promotion. I think it’ll be us, Orient, Oxford and Accrington in the playoffs. The winner of the playoffs will be AFC Wimbledon, ha!
I’ve got to mention that I cannot bare seeing Dagenham in the position that they are in. It’s horrendous because I really like them as a club. They are the nicest, warmest most welcoming people that you could ever go to a football match with and I’d love to see them get off of the bottom. Then again York are nice, Yeovil are nice, Hartlepool are nice. They are all nice people down there. I think it’s sad but we are going to say goodbye to Dagenham this year. The other place really is still up for grabs; it could be any one of the bottom 5. Having said that I think Dagenham will be joined by York… sad times.