The end of the domestic season is upon us, and a result, it’s time to get down to business where the play-offs are concerned. Everyone knows and loves the concept of the post-season tournament, as four clubs in each of the Football League divisions wage war in an attempt to gain promotion. Some will succeed and some will obviously fail, but along the way, they’ll learn a lot about themselves. That sounds a little bit cliché, but if you haven’t experienced either the joy or disappointment of playing at Wembley in a game of this magnitude, then you’ll never truly understand the ramifications of it all.
The Championship has been incredibly competitive this season, but in the end, Norwich City and Sheffield United were the two sides who managed to confirm their places in the top flight. They both deserved their spots, and now, it’s time to determine who the third and final team that joins them will be.
They’re all big names and they’re all incredibly hungry, but as we all know, there can only be one.
It has certainly been a rollercoaster ride of a season for Villa, who initially seemed like a club that would mingle around mid-table. In the end, though, they dusted themselves off, pulled themselves up, and went on a phenomenal run to ensure they’d be playing in the play-offs. They’ve got the momentum on their side and they’ve certainly got a good enough team to get the job done, so you could argue they’re the favourites.
West Bromwich Albion
Despite sacking Darren Moore, West Brom have been able to avoid capitulation (for the most part) in recent weeks. They do kind of just seem like a team that are there to make up the numbers, but when there are only four teams in a tournament like this, it’s kind of dangerous to think like that. The passion of their semi-final against Villa could create a few unusual moments, which would likely be the key for them to gain an advantage.
The argument has been that Leeds have ‘bottled it’ in the last few weeks, but to be honest, none of that really matters now. All that matters is that they can turn up when it matters the most – and their fans are going to have to play a huge role in that. They’ve got an incredibly passionate fanbase that feels like they belong back in the big time, but Derby is no easy game.
Frank Lampard’s men have been fortunate to break into the top six this season, given some of their poor results throughout the course of the campaign. However, the fact that they were able to pull a win over West Brom out of the bag should give them a lot of confidence prior to the tie against Leeds.
The bookmakers have it as a toss-up between Leeds and Aston Villa regarding who they think will gain promotion, but if we had to put money on it, we’d back Villa.