Monday, 11 February 2013

Chasing Cherries could become the chased very soon

There is now a distinct possibility that the Cherries could reach the summit of League One within the next few days or weeks if they can continue on their latest winning run. While Eddie Howe has been saying for weeks that the club is playing catch up and that it hoped to sneak up almost unnoticed into a position where it was in contention, there is no doubt that the club is now threatening a raid on the top two automatic League One promotion places.

Pessimists may wonder would we be we hitting the front too early? Will the team run out of steam just when the ultimate goal of promotion is in sight? In the past I may have had similar concerns, but AFCB is a club that has been dealing with the pressure of being the big spenders in League One and has got to grips with that expectancy of both the home supporters and the fact that opponents see the Cherries as a big scalp these days.

Another factor that gives me optimism is that this team will not be happy to hang in for just a play-off place. They have been doing well against the top teams. A look at page 62 of this weekends' programme for the Pompey game shows that AFCB are ranked No 1 against the top half of the League teams - W6 D5 L5 and when scoring first they are ranked 7 - W13 D3 L1 and even ninth when conceding first W1 D6 L5. You can see why Eddie Howe says the first goal is so important - most games in this league are won by those who score first!
This team is not like the Cherries team that had to hang on to a top six place two seasons ago for a play-off place. They have the ability to push on and make this league theirs in my opinion. The coming weeks will see if they achieve this.

BBC Radio Solent were also asking John Williams on Saturday whether not to finish in the top two places this season and go up automatically would be a failure? Willo replied that he didn't think it would be a disaster if the Cherries did not get promoted this year as the investors had planned for either going up this season or next season. Ten games into this campaign it was hard to imagine that the Cherries could even make the top half or play-offs but they are well in the mix for top honours now.

Certainly a switch in mentality will be required if AFCB do start to sit at the top of the league. They will no longer be the chasers but the chased. It comes with its own pressure as we can see in Tranmere Rover's recent results. Doncaster Rovers too are finding it hard to get away at the top and it remains to be seen if AFCB can get there and focus on keeping a winning run of games.

Make sure you log your predictions as to which three teams you think will win promotion out of League One this season - see poll on the side panel. 

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