Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Out of time?

Blackburn's win over a predictably understrength Chelsea side last night simply confirmed what we'd feared following Saturday's results, Rovers securing sixth place in the league and a UEFA Cup spot ahead of us.

I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the champions, but I was cheering them on last night, and as upset as Jose that none of what looked like three blatant penalties were awarded to his side. Blackburn, though, did probably play well enough to deserve the points.

So, who will be appearing in which competition remains uncertain owing to Arsenal and Middlesbrough's presence in the Champions League and UEFA Cup finals respectively, but we do know that seventh won't be enough for automatic qualification - and we face a real fight to hang on to that too.

Bolton, three points adrift of us, face a no doubt exhausted Smoggie side with their eyes on bigger things at home tonight, and then already relegated Birmingham on Sunday. A win for the Trotters tonight, and their superior goal difference, will mean we will have to better their result on Sunday in our game against Chelsea - no easy task, no matter who the champions put out. If we relinquish seventh, then the Intertoto looks like a lost hope too, and we can put our passports away for another season - worrying, given our desire to retain key players as well as strengthen in the summer.

Aside from the four game blip in March when we met Man Utd, Liverpool and Chelsea, we've been a changed side under Roeder, putting in some much improved performances, but it seems as though the headlong charge for European qualification is going to fall just short.


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