Given it’s election week, and that we now have a charted path where the destination might lead us to the Premier League, I seem to have linked the two together in my head. When the top flight seemed so far away, I had an attitude of ambivalence to it – so corrupt, so unfair – so imbalanced, so uncompetitive. In some ways I was happier ‘out of it’ in the relatively level playing field that is the Football League.
In politics I remember having very idealistic values when I was a student – I believed society should be fair, that it was wrong the imbalance between rich and poor and the measures in place to maintain that inequality. As you become older you become more cynical, you realise that ultimately mainstream politics is very limited – and it’s not uncommon for people to start considering voting for more selfish reasons.
That’s how I come around to thinking about the Premier League. I still think it’s unfair and imbalanced – however, if that is the way that things are then I would rather Forest were a part of it and have a slice of that pie. It hadn’t always been so – remember watching Frank Clark get us promoted to the top flight then take us to third the following season? Now anything above third from bottom would be considered an achievement.
Of course – whilst all this talk of the Premier League is fair game for all four play-off bound teams – it wouldn’t do to count any chickens. Not only have we not managed to beat Blackpool this season, we haven’t even managed to get so much as a point from them. Ian Holloway is a canny manager with a talented squad – the semi-final will be a real challenge and make no mistake, before we even dare think about a trip to Wembley.
Having said all that – whilst I have eventually come around to desperately wanting promotion now – whatever happens this season now is a big win for Nottingham Forest and Billy Davies. To elevate ourselves from a near-relegation scrap to third in the league is a marvellous turnaround, when you consider Derby, one point better than us last season, are probably pleased to haul themselves to fourteenth.
Failing at this final hurdle would of course be heart-wrenching as we well know from past experiences – but it felt like there was so much more at stake in those other play-off encounters. Particularly against Yeovil, which of course is the perfect warning against complacency even if we manage to return from Blackpool with a positive result. Something tells me Billy Davies will be rather better equipped to deal with these games compared to Smoulderwood – bless him.
Whilst our trials are yet to come over the next few weeks, it would be ungentlemanly to not congratulate Newcastle on smashing through 100 points to finish an impressive season. West Brom too, deserving of their second place finish – and to commiserate with Wednesday who once again find themselves in the third tier. Big congratulations to Paul Hart for overcoming administration with Palace and keeping the Eagles in the Championship.
I’m sure my feelings will change over the coming week, but currently I’m approaching next week’s commencement of the play-offs with a ‘nothing to lose, everything to gain’ mentality. As we get closer and as the games are played out and we see how things start to turn out, I’m sure it will begin to feel a little more tense. However, I’m confident the lads will do us proud regardless of the outcome.
If the worst comes to the worst, the Championship looks a lot less of a daunting prospect next season – with no Newcastle, no West Brom and with one of the play-off contenders removed. Replace them with a skint Portsmouth, a skint Hull and a Burnley side not looking all that impressive and well, I would certainly hope we could compete with all of those – of course, Norwich and Leeds coming up could well ‘do a Leicester’.
Anyway, I digress (as usual!), to return to the initial parallel with politics, I’m much less confident in the would-be governments competing in the general election – again, regardless of the outcome! Still, don’t forget to vote on Thursday – regardless of the ultimately ridiculous way we are proportionally ‘represented’ – many paid a high price for your right to have your say in this way!
Perhaps marginally more importantly (sic), give your backing to Billy Davies and the boys – who have restored a good degree of the pride we’ve struggled to muster over the last few seasons. I started writing this blog hoping to chart Forest’s return from obscurity – then it was a modest ambition to establish us in the second tier… I didn’t dream in such a relatively short spell we’d be in with a shout of a crack at the top flight!
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