Ok, as fate invariably conspires, we lost 2 precious points yesternight. Precious? More than precious.
As much as I hate saying it, our Champions League qualification looks more difficult by the day (with every win that MCFC and THFC garner, and every point that the referees steal away from us). We are sixth by 5 points having played 2 extra games. And we are 8 points off 4th having played 1 more game. The 4th place shoot out remains a 4 horse race with Manchester City, Tottenham and Chelsea having the lead on us; we need to overtake two of these.
Even if we win all 11 remaining games, we need the teams to have at least 4 bad games each. Here is a rundown of the tricky games that our competition is yet to play:
Chelsea: MCFC (h), MUFC (h), MUFC (a), THFC (h) – apart from these, there are also a game each against Stoke, Newcastle and Blackpool who I would expect to spring a surprise or two while the Spurs game should hopefully end in a draw.
Manchester City: Chelsea (a), Liverpool (a), Sunderland (h), Spurs (h) and away games against Blackburn and Bolton. Manchester City look strongest of the lot and with the bench strength they have they look probable to end in top-4. If they are to do that, I would then expect them to beat both Chelsea and Spurs.
Tottenham: Arsenal (h), Chelsea (a), Liverpool (a), Manchester City (a) and game against Stoke.
Liverpool: Arsenal (a), Manchester United (h), Manchester City (h), Tottenham (h) – of course we have to win all…! There is also an away game at Sunderland..
Now, I don’t want to have an opinion one way or the other but this certainly looks like a task which is uphill and one with too many variables. The good part, the intangible part, is that we have Kenny leading and guiding us. And that most of our players are fit. And that the fans always sing and mean ‘..with hope in your heart…’
We’ve been superb in the last 6 games and as much as I hate pointing fingers at anyone, I know exactly what went wrong this season.
The not-so-bad thing is that we’re not playing the FA Cup or the more tasking Champions League which is not the case with the others. I hope all of their players are made to run for 90 minutes and more and for that reason I would also be hoping that these teams get into the next qualifying rounds to tire them even further. Of course, none of them should win anything.
And for us, well winning Europa than not winning Champions League definitely sounds better. For us, trophies are collectibles and as advertising campaigns go, we believe in ‘Collect them All’.