Another Saturday, another ‘relegation battle’. In any other division it would be too early in the season to start deciding who’s going to finish where, but it seems that the big bad world of top flight football is one place where your destiny is predetermined. Of course the media are going to believe that the season will be a struggle for us, of course the realist in all of us says the same but can we dare to dream?
On performances thus far, if one of the class of 2005 was going to stay up I’d be betting on West Ham. Their victories have come against higher ‘ranked’ teams than ours, but then again we’ve not had too much of a chance to test ourselves in the ‘mid-table’ arena. In any case, even if they escape the drop early on, there’s no need to despair.
The theory that promoted teams are more likely to go down isn’t strictly true. OK, since the 93/94 season there has only been one instance of all the promoted teams staying up, but equally only once have all of them gone down. In fact only on three occasions have two promoted sides finished in the bottom three. In 7 of those 12 seasons only one new boy has finished in a position that would see us relegated.
And so, almost immediately after back to back victories, there is no time to reflect. Instead we look to next weekend when Middlesbrough come to town. A Sunday game, not because of Sky, but because of their involvement in the UEFA cup. A position that, if we believe Dave Whelan, the Latics will be in two years time. After playing Charlton, what seems like eons back, this game presents us with a second chance to benchmark ourselves against where the chairman wants us to be; but also a chance to see if we learned anything from that game.
I don’t mean to take anything away from our two wins, but they’ve come in games that could quite easily have been First Division games. Our results in those games may have been an improvement on the last time those fixtures were played but they were close both times around. It is understandable then that there is, amongst fans at least, some apprehension about our start to the season. The are sterner tests in the coming weeks, if we pass those as well then maybe there will be cause to dream.
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