QUALITY OF TOP CLUBS IS EXTRA SPECIAL
HAS any season ever left more sides feeling hard done by? It’s certainly difficult to remember one where so many excellent sides went unrewarded.
Take the Championship. Derby went into yesterday’s round of games with 84 points and a goal difference of +34. Twelve months ago, that would not only have assured promotion but also have given them a final-day shot at the title.
This season, it was good enough only for home advantage in the play-off semis, scant reward in anyone’s book.
League One is even worse. Simon Grayson’s Preston have lost just six of their 45 games this season, a record that speaks of incredible consistency. Indeed, last season, they’d have clinched the title with a game to spare.
Now? They couldn’t even dream of automatic promotion, with Wolves clocking a century and secondplaced Brentford notching 91 points. Spare a thought, also, for Leyton Orient and Rotherham. They, too, would already have beaten Bournemouth to second spot last season.
I know it means nothing. As the saying goes, if ifs and ands were pots and pans. Excellence is measured by the team at the top and as the rest scramble to keep up their own performance is raised accordingly.
One thing, though, is certain. These should be the most high quality play-offs for many years.