With most teams in the championship have 8 games to play, there's still plenty of points up for grabs for teams from the top to the bottom of the league. Unlike many leagues around the world, there's not many leagues where both automatic promotion, play off's and relegation places are still completely uncertain. One thing that is certain is that it is going to be a roller-coaster ride for all fans of Championship clubs.
There is only 10 points separating bottom placed 24th with 11th placed Burnley, making it potentially a 13 horse race for survival, incredible really. The three teams in the relegation places, sit on 39-42 points, bringing in the possibility a team being relegated on 50 points if the clubs in and around the relegation places keep on picking up wins on a regular basis. Recent resurgences in the form for Barnsley, 6 wins in last 9, Peterborough's steady flow of points with some erratic performances to keep the London road faithful on the edge of their seats, Bristol City now competing and in with a definite chance of safety under Sean O'Driscoll. These three teams especially looked dead and buried during certain stages of the season. Ipswich and Sheffield Wednesday are still hovering nervously over the drop zone although both picking up crucial victories when required. A collapse in form by Millwall since the turn of the year, has saw them plummet from 6th to current 14th, just 5 points from the drop with two key games in hand over most of the bottom half. The other team that has nosedived in form without a win in 7 in the league is Blackburn. I find it too difficult to resist a dig at Michael Appleton, who continues his far from positive influence on either of the three sides he has managed continues, although in truth, the consistent slide from top to 16th did start when Henning Berg took charge of the club after the ever so popular Steve Kean left the club.
The play off positions are slightly less uncertain but still remain open as ever for some late drama as some mid table teams strike up form with a hope to sneak into that desired 6th spot for a chance at the '90 million pound' match. Middlesbrough and Leeds look slightly lacking to stake a claim to challenge the teams in the play off places however the 5 wins in 6 for Dougie Freeman's Bolton finally look to have the consistency to compete with Nottingham Forest and Leicester for a place in the play off's that Bolton desperately want after a below par season on the whole. Forest also have sprung a 5 game winning streak under the savior Billy Davies allowing them to take the illusive 5th position for the time being. Gus Poyet's Brighton are certainly not out of the shout by a long way, back to back defeats has dented but not dismantled their play off push but a strong, battling last 8 games will be required to keep pace with Leicester, Forest and Bolton.
The automatic promotion and title race is really hotting up now. Zola's Watford have been playing exciting, attacking football that wouldn't look out of place in any top European league, Crystal Palaces menacing Murray, in between the deadly duo of Bolasie and Zaha along with the essential goals of the wily poacher Kevin Phillips have seen them take apart many that have come there way, Steve Bruce is working wonders down at Hull with newly signed George Boyd alongside quality of Sone Aluko, Robert Koren and Ahmed El Mohamady providing resilient and effective football that is seeing Hull pick up crucial wins at the business end of the season when the pressure is cranked up dramatically. Cardiff seemed to have the Championship title all wrapped up but a dip in form over the last 10 games has given a new breath of life to Hull, Crystal Palace and Watford to not only get into the second automatic promotion spot, but with the ability to pip the Bluebirds to the title. Whilst it seems difficult to imagine that Cardiff could drop out of the automatic places all together, the slight decline in Cardiff dominance has seen an improvement in performances of the other three challengers, as they jostle for the automatic places week in week out. The crunch time is fast approaching for the four teams at the top of the Championship and it will be fascinating to watch the twists and turns of each teams vital wins, difficult draws and disastrous defeats.
So, with a typically exciting conclusion to the championship season drawing ever closer, those of you of a neutral perspective on the Championship, sit back, relax and enjoy the chaos, to those of you with the heart racing, never dull, job of following your championship club, we know nothing is predictable in this league. Through the finger crossing, nail biting, heads in hands, lets try our hardest to enjoy the most exciting league in European football in my opinion. COME ON YOU BLUES!
Thanks for reading, would love to hear your views on the championship as a whole as well as your views on the race for promotion and survival.