Championship Play-Off’s 2011/12   Leave a comment


So the four Championship teams who will be playing in the Play off’s for the chance of moving to the promised land of the Premier League and reaping the rewards that promotion brings are decided and will see West Ham, Birmingham City, Blackpool, Cardiff City do battle but who has got the best credentials to make it through to face each other at Wembley on 19th may.

Wembley Stadium

West Ham had gambled on keeping a lot of the players who came down with them last season in the hope of making an immediate return to the Premier League after being relegated last season, but after being the bookies favourites all season to get automatic promotion how will missing out on that automatic spot affect them and where will West Ham be if they fail with Debts thought to be in the region of 90mill surely failure could spell disaster for the London club. The Hammers fans have already turned on the team and manager Sam Allardyce for his style of play this season so will the pressure be too much for them to handle will the fans have an adverse affect on the team if they do not get a decent enough result in the 1st leg. Results against fellow contenders have been decent and give them the edge on their rivals but will they be able to make that favourites tag work this time something im not sure they can achieve.

Allardyce said: “I stuck my neck out when I arrived and said we wanted promotion in the first season.

“I’ve got a two-year contract but doing it in the first season is important. We still have three games to win, and we will do it.

“We’ve had a very good season considering where we’ve come from. In the last few years 86 points has been enough.

“Our ultimate goal was not achieved, we left ourselves too much to do.We have to lick our wounds, get over our disappointment and get ready for the vital games ahead of us.”

Head to Head v Play Off rivals  : Won 3 … Drawn 2 … Lost 1

Birmingham City are in a similar position to West Ham having been relegated last season and come into the Play Off’s with an uncertain future hanging over them with Carson Yeung facing money laundering charges the fans are torn between hating what’s going on off the pitch to loving what’s happening on it. Manager Chris Hughton has performed miracles from qualifying for the group stages of the Europa League through to securing 4th place and a play off berth something many Bluenoses would have said was impossible after losing so many players at the start of the season, but the player’s who came in have done the club proud and whatever happens each one of them can hold their heads up high. The style of football being played has helped the team and fans unite in the face of the problems behind the scenes meaning that the player’s do not feel under any pressure to go on and achieve promotion something that could become an asset enabling them to concentrate on their own game more than worrying about what the fans will be saying or the media or even their opponents. The Blues will come into the Play Off’s the inform team after remaining unbeaten in their last 9 games so will be full of confidence and with the fans right behind them still after playing 60 games this season already the feeling is that they can go on and achieve the impossible and gain promotion again at the 1st attempt .

Hughton said: “At the moment the thought of playing in the two play-offs is taking up 100% of my thoughts.

“We know there is an issue but it is not on my mind at the moment.

“There is an emphasis from everyone at the club to try to get through to the final and get back into the Premier League. That will take up all of our efforts.”

Head to Head v Play Off rivals : Won 1 … Drawn 4 … Lost 1

Blackpool yet another team that was relegated last season looking for that immediate return to the Premier league but who don’t seem to have the same financial need that promotion can bring. With the club seemingly being  run well and to a budget that is manageable the players will have less pressure on them and can go into the play off’s thinking “what will be will be” but you can be sure that manager Ian Holloway will have them fighting for promotion regardless of any of that.  Blackpool will need to step up on their record against their rivals however having lost 3 of the 6 games played v’s the other promotion hopefuls, The Seasiders play a style of football that always allows them a chance of  scoring a goal or two whilst at the same time leaving themselves vulnerable at the back something that has been proven against their play off rivals this season after scoring 7 but conceding 15 in six games played so surely they will have these stats in their heads and could this affect their chances of getting the better of their rivals YES it could.

“It’s a fantastic achievement to get in the play-offs and now let’s go and take on a really good side in Birmingham. It will be interesting to see which way it goes.

“But it’s going to be tough, isn’t it? To have Birmingham and West Ham in there, and obviously Cardiff who certainly consider themselves a big club, who’s going to win? I don’t know. Said manager Ian Holloway

Head to Head v Play Off rivals :  Won 1 … Drawn 2 … Lost 3

Cardiff City the perennial play off contenders will come into the games has the outsiders of the 4 teams after picking up the tag of the nearly team in recent years reaching the play off’s for the fourth time in 4 years but failing to gain that all important promotion spot in 3 previous attempts. They have had a good season in reaching the Carling Cup final v Liverpool but failing again at the last hurdle, after that defeat their form took a slight dip but has picked up in recent weeks so they will be another team full of confidence having reached the play off’s something that was still in the balance on the last day of the regular season. Manager Malky Mackay knows they will be the underdogs and will be playing on that to hopefully put pressure on their rivals at the same time  easing the tension that will be felt around Cardiff by both team and fans in a hope to rid themselves of the hoodoo of being known has failures. Like their rivals they come into the play off’s on the back of a fine run of form unbeaten in their last 10 games and over the season have a decent record against the other play off teams so can be considered contenders.

“It’s a former club of mine and I know the pressure at that football club to do well and to impress.

“I would think that we are underdogs, in terms of the expectation on a club the size of West Ham,” Mackay said.

Head to Head v Play Off rivals :  Won 2 … Drawn 2 … Lost 2

 

           COME ON YOU BLUEBOYS … KRO

By Blues Brother (Member of  birminghamcityforum.co.uk )

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