Looking Forward

After our home match against West Brom, it'll be 30 down and eight to go.

After our home match against West Brom, it’ll be 30 down and eight to go. Scary how quickly we fly through the football season, isn’t it? Come Sunday, May 19 at 6pm, the 2012/2013 football season will be a memory, and already we’ll be looking ahead to the big kickoff in the summer sunshine later this year.

But the way we’ll be looking ahead will, of course, rely on what division we’ll be playing in. I’d like to think we’ll be gearing up for another season in the Premier League, but given our somewhat iffy run of form, there does remain the chance that we’ll end up in the Championship again. That would, of course, mark a major disappointment given how well our season started, not to mention another rebuilding job that would have to be done. So, what will happen with our beloved club after May 19?

Well, firstly, if the worst happens, we need the personnel in place to get us back to the Premier League as soon as we can. Some of our fans would say that being in the Championship is great fun, we have better away days, we win more matches and so on. But the truth of the matter is that football is a business, and we’d be losing out on an a lot of money by not being in the Premier League. It’s interesting to note that in our last full season in the top division (when we finished bottom), we still earnt £40m — significantly more than we could achieve in the Championship.

Would the owners, given the new stadium on the horizon, give Sam Allardyce more time? My suspicion is no. Sam’s brief is to keep the team in the Premier League. Given that, if we’re being honest, we really struggled to get promoted in the first place, the owners could opt for someone else, with a certain former Italian player high on many people’s wishlist.

If we stay in the Premier League, it’d be surprising if Sam wasn’t around next season. After all, he would have completed his key objectives in both seasons of him being here — “get promoted” and “stay in the Premier League”. But the owners would certainly be looking for an improvement next season, particularly in our away form as nine away goals in 15 games is shocking. As for the players, well, it’ll be certain that we’ll be linked with a host of them. It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the lack of goals is a concern and has been a problem all season.

Signing someone who will actually put the ball into the back of the net will be essential, no matter what league we are in. The defence also needs looking at — we’ve given away too many soft goals this season. Finally, a note of caution. It’s very easy to sit back and make predictions about what might happen, but there are two things that you can virtually guarantee: there will be surprises once the season ends, no matter where we find ourselves; and we will always have the best fans in the world.

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