Everything's pointing to an East End knees up
Chris LakeyWho, what, when, where, why and how? They're the six basic principles basics of information gathering and giving, the bread and butter, if you like, of what the blokes in the press box do.Chris Lakey
Who, what, when, where, why and how?
They're the six basic principles basics of information gathering and giving, the bread and butter, if you like, of what the blokes in the press box do.
The who is easy: Norwich City.
The what is simple: League One promotion and possibly the title.
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When and where are less easy.
Why? Because they are the best team in the league.
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How? Because they got a major decision right last year and have been rewarded in bucketfuls.
That leaves when and where - the identity of the opponents and thus the location when City will clinch promotion and, maybe at the same time, maybe not, the League One title.
Starting with the basics: If City win at Tranmere on Friday and Huddersfield lose at Wycombe, then the Canaries are guaranteed a play-off place.
The bookies know that's going to happen, which is why their odds are 1-500 ON.
The next stage is a lot more difficult and requires lots of pieces of paper, a pen and the ability to get upwards of a couple of dozen predictions spot on. Either that, or you use the handy predictor on the BBC's website.
There are targets to go for, but once a surprise result pops up they can go out of the window. Like Leeds losing at home to Millwall, which gave the cat free entry into the pigeon coop.
There's a general feeling that perhaps 94 points will do it. The question is, when will City hit that figure?
The earliest opportunity to clinch promotion would be at home a week on Saturday, against MK Dons: but it depends on a lot of ifs, buts and maybes. City need to win at Tranmere and then beat bottom side Stockport on Monday and then the Dons at Carrow Road. Without being over-confident, you'd have to reckon there is a pretty good chance of that happening.
Then comes the complicated stuff and all the variables: will Millwall drop all the points available from a home game against Brentford on Friday, at Colchester and then at home to Gillingham. Doubtful.
What about Leeds? What will happen between them and Swindon at Elland Road this weekend? And will they then slip up ay Yeovil and at home to Southend?
Swindon are right there in the mix and after the Leeds game have Tranmere at home and Colchester away.
Follow the theory through - that City win all their games and their main rivals lose all of theirs - then City's celebrations against MK Dons would be followed by a title-winning party after the game at Leyton Orient three days later.
However, it's almost certain that Leeds, Millwall and Swindon will still be in the picture in a fortnight's time, leaving the trip to Orient the one where promotion is more likely to be sealed.
From the realms of almost-fantasy to something a little more realistic: that after the Easter weekend Norwich's closest rivals will be Millwall.
Let's be realistic: no one is going to prevent Norwich from being promoted, they can only delay the inevitable. Millwall can quite easily continue their good form of late and overtake Leeds, but it will have little bearing on City's whereabouts next season - always assuming City maintain their own form, and there has been little sign of them doing otherwise since, what, last September?
There are too few games remaining for there to be major shifts in the balance of power. Without being too presumptuous, the only question is whether or not City will win the title.
If Millwall win their three games, if Leeds draw with Swindon and win their other two, and if Swindon also get two wins out of three, then City head to Leyton Orient with their 11-point lead intact with five to play.
Win at the Matchroom Stadium and it's a minimum of 11 with four to play, meaning Millwall would have to win at Yeovil the same night to keep it interesting. Draw and them and Leeds would be 13 points behind, Swindon 14.
If Leeds beat Swindon, it could still be undecided, although it could leave City needing just two points from their last four games.
See what I mean about complications and variables? It's why betting on football is so difficult.
If you are tempted, how about a look at all four divisions and try to work out in which order the major movements will occur: relegation and promotion.
Portsmouth could go down this weekend, when Newcastle could pick up their return ticket to the Championship and Peterborough could be relegated to League One.
But who will be next? Will Norwich go up before Rochdale in League Two, or will Stockport be relegated before both?
All far too complicated.
t REMAINING GAMES
Friday April 3Tranmere away
Mon April 5Stockporthome
Sat April 10MK Donshome
Tues April 13Leyton Orient away
Sat April 17Charlton away
Sat April 24Gillinghamhome
Sat May 1Bristol Rovers away
Sat May 8Carlislehome