BBC and ESPN are reporting the schedules for the upcoming Football League play-offs. They’re telling you the dates, times and teams involved in the entertaining post-season tradition, and there will be a few other fun anecdotes thrown in there in between. However, what they’ll fail to divulge (properly) is the overwhelming importance and emphasis that goes into these next few weeks of games.
The twelve teams that are going to embark on this journey are going into it knowing that the gap between success and failure is so unbelievably thin. At this stage one moment of madness could completely change the trajectory of your season, and there’s just no way of getting around that. Of course, without showing too much disrespect to the teams in League One and League Two, there’s no real way of comparing the importance of the three divisions without noting a substantial increase in importance for the Championship.
The big time
The Championship Play-Off Final, which is set to go down at Wembley in just a few short weeks time, serves as the pinnacle of expensive football games. What do we mean by that? We mean that the winner will be, essentially, earning the equivalent of well over £100 million due to the benefits that come with promotion to the top flight. That’s no small amount, and it’s worth taking into consideration when you think about who to pick in the predictions for these next few games.
All four teams are equally as intriguing, and when it comes to their stature, they’re almost equally as rich in history. Some have a few more titles and trophies in their cabinet than others, but we aren’t talking about that. The fanbases are all pretty similar, the stadium sizes are all pretty similar, and they’ve all enjoyed a lot of success in the Premier League during their respective stays there. It’s almost odd to think that only one of them will be heading up, but then again, Norwich and Sheffield United are also very worthy members of the division.
Who will it be?
When it comes to the Aston Villa vs West Brom semi-final it’s hard to look past Villa, because they’ve been able to build up so much momentum over the course of the last few months. Sure, the Baggies have the edge when it comes to their most recent meetings, but none of that matters at this stage.
Leeds vs Derby is a fascinating clash, and one that immediately gets us thinking about Brian Clough. He’d almost certainly be backing Derby County to get the job done in this one, but to be blunt, we aren’t sure they’re capable of taking that next step. They’ve been able to get to this point time and time again in the last few years, but they always seem to fall short. We think Lampard is going to do some pretty big things with them in the years to come, but this just isn’t their time.
Either way we’re expecting some fun games, so if you’re a neutral, sit back and enjoy the show.