All season long people have been talking about how competitive and open the 2010/11 Championship has been and so it’s surprising that so many of the issues at either end of the table have been decided with a full round of fixtures still to be played next Saturday lunchtime. At the top of the league, QPR were confirmed as Champions after their 2-0 win at Watford (in our position I think we have to assume that they will not get points deducted next Friday at the disciplinary hearing looking into alleged irregularities in their signing of Alejandro Faurlin) and, barring freakish results for Nottingham Forest and Leeds next week, the identity of the top six has been settled as well.
Swansea’s win at Millwall ended any hopes the Londoners had of making it to the Play Offs and so Leeds will have to go to play at the Champion’s ground next week knowing that a win and a turn around in Forest’s goal difference advantage of six is required from them. Even then though Forest will only need a point at Selhurst Park against a Palace side now guaranteed their Championship status for next season to take that sixth spot – stranger things have happened than Leeds making into the play Offs from where they are now, but not many.
The reason Palace are safe is that Scunthorpe (stuffed 5-1 at Forest) and Sheffield United (a 2-2 home draw with Barnsley) didn’t get the wins they needed and so join Preston in being relegated. This means that City have continued what has become a pretty regular habit in recent years of dropping home points to the bottom sides – draws at Cardiff City Stadium against Sheffield United and Preston (as well as twentieth placed Palace) could end up being so damaging to us come next Saturday.
The only outstanding issue really is who is going to finish second and even that could be settled before the last round of fixtures if we were to lose against Middlesbrough in our final home game of the regular season tomorrow. However, now is not the time for such negativity and the best news for City yesterday was that Ross McCormack’s first goal for Leeds was enough to end Burnley’s hopes of an immediate return to the Premiership – so City will end their campaign at the ground of a side with nothing to play for rather than one with top six aspirations of their own.
Burnley impressed me as the best visiting side I have seen at Cardiff City Stadium this year in the 1-1 draw back in February, but they were also involved in the worst Championship game I have seen all season (a televised 0-0 draw at Scunthorpe) and their performance at Elland Road in a match that meant so much to them wasn’t much better than the one they gave at Glanford Park – they lacked desire and pace and, but for keeper Jensen, Leeds would have won by three or four. Therefore, our run in looks a little easier to me than it did twenty four hours ago – we now need a favour from Portsmouth (who have picked up good draws against promotion chasing sides in their past two games) tomorrow because I’m afraid I can’t see Coventry helping us out at Carrow Road next Saturday.