Date:Friday May 8 2009
They say 'a week in football is a long time', as they do for many other things, but if that is the case a year must seem like an eternity!
A little over a year ago we were preparing for, and then indeed winning the FA cup - we had a side, that on paper, genuinely looked good enough to really mount an assault on the top 6, maybe even the top 4, but we all know how that ended up, and where so many of those players have gone - and where more are likely to go. We also know where the mercenary manager swanned off to and why, and how his successor came and went. So, that year back along seems a million miles away... however, we carry on, as we always have, and always will!
The same can be said, about how fortunes have changed, for plenty of other sides around the English game, some of which have taken turns for the worse on a financial matter, but that is not what I am looking at here...
Look at Preston, who tonight face Sheffield United on the play-offs - they spanked our cup final opponents Cardiff 6-0 towards the end of the season before nipping in ahead of them to make the final play-off spot on goals scored, but just a year ago they had narrowly avoided relegation!
Alan Irvine came to take over the side that were once managed by David Moyes, who he was the then assistant to at Everton, and they were in deep trouble. They ended the season just below mid table, some 6pts from the drop and look at them now, 3 games away from the top flight. 'If' they returned I wonder if Nugent may well make that return journey?
The lot down the road escaped relegation on the final day of the season last time round and look at them now, they... well... they, erm... got relegated with a 10pt penalty - so a bad example. Sorry, Saints fans, that was a low blow. I do wish you the best for the future though, in as much as I want your club saved...
Carlisle missed out in last seasons league one play-offs and were embroiled in a relegation battle this season, a battle that saw them avoid relegation to league two at Northampton's expense on the final day of the season by a solitary point...
For Peterborough and MK Dons however it is a story of pretty much 'as you were'... Both had gained promotion from league two into league one the season before and Peterborough went up to the championship again this season as runners-up to Leicester, who had come down from the championship the year before, whereas MK Dons are now fighting for a second successive promotion too via the play-offs!
Speaking of Peterborough, I cannot see us doing it, nor can I see them allowing it, but it would be interesting to see what would happen if we sounded out Darren Ferguson?
He seems to be a chip off the old block - that said ideally I think another year, seeing how he does in the championship, is something that most would look at before 'a chance' was taken - that said, as an outside bet I would be tempted, but we all know who is going to get the job as our next manager anyway...
Although never seriously threatened by relegation Brentford did not have the best of seasons, and finished below mid table. The ship has been steadied big time and they end this season as league two champions, with a manager in Andy Scott that 'could' become hot property too down the line...
Likewise Bury, who really struggled in the early-mid months of last season before finishing just above Brentford, have, on a shoestring budget made the play-offs this season, and currently hold a 1-0 lead over Shrewsbury in their 1st leg. They missed out on promotion on goal difference, something we know all about, missing out to Wycombe by a single goal!
Like Peterborough and MK Dons in the league above, Exeter though continue to also go from strength to strength! They followed up their promotion from non-league to league two with another promotion from league two to league one, this time as runners-up to Brentford under another promising young manager, a manager with connections to the lot down the road Paul Tisdale.
So, a lot really can happen in a year...
We proved this a few years back when we went from near certainties for relegation from the premier league to challengers for a uefa cup place in this 12-month period, before carrying on moving forward to eventually become FA cup winners - and until the end of game on May 30th we will remain cup holders!
In all honesty the signs of a 'decline' for us were evident some time before we won the FA cup, this just 'papered over the cracks' to a degree, not that I am ungrateful for this. But maybe, just maybe this time next year we will again be thinking 'what a difference a year makes', but in a positive light.
It might not seem like it now, but stranger things have happened and anything is possible, as the topsy-turvy world of football often proves...
PLAY UP POMPEY!
Date:Friday May 8 2009
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