It doesn’t make a lot of sense exactly, but there’s a considerable psychological boost from being in the Championship above any other form of promotion.
Yes, the holy grail for clubs and players alike is reaching the top table, but there’s an inevitability about facing immediate relegation when you go up unless all your ducks are in order. Landing in the Championship gives you a platform to become a big club, and in all honesty, doesn’t really feel like the Football League as it were.
It allows you to flirt with the idea of being one season away from the Premier League, regardless of the likelihood of it ever being achieved.
This year’s League One playoffs may not exactly have the tension in the grounds, but the prize is the exact same. On paper, Portsmouth look like the only club who really fit in the Championship, but I reckon that’s the glory of all this.
Wycombe are certainly all but there as of right now – they just need to finish the job, while Pompey are held to a one-all draw with Oxford. Actually, come to think of it – does anyone know exactly where Wycombe is, and if so, can they inform the other 23 Championship clubs for next season if it comes to it?
In games like this, and especially given the turnaround, squad depth is of upmost importance. What Oxford have in tactical diversity in approach, Pompey have in numbers – and Ronan Curtis.
It’s of no doubt to me that Ronan Curtis will end up playing in the Championship next year, and his ability to provide crucial goals in crucial moments on a consistent basis means that they have someone to fall back on.
There’s plenty of reason to believe the away side are the more likely, whether that be down to the fact they were the better team in the first leg, whether it’s due to the fact they’ve been robbed by the referee for not being awarded a penalty after Rob Dickie got handsy inside the box – or because the goal they conceded was one of individual quality rather than anything well-worked.
My favourite thing about Glenn Whelan is that he’s clearly struggling to keep up with the pace of games in League One (not that he hasn’t been excellent regardless), and he’s still probably in line for 30 more Ireland caps.
But a return to the Championship is probably now out of his hands after a heavy defeat in the first leg. In spite of that, there’s a probability about them winning this game anyway.
That comes from the fact that the nerves in the Wycombe camp having the prospect of this achievement staring them in the face will force them to protect a sizeable lead, particularly at home, where they’ll feel comfortable doing so.
This just smacks of a 1-0 Fleetwood win, doesn’t it?
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