One of the reasons why we needed a win on Saturday was to restore some confidence ahead of the international break. Instead, we again lost and have to face 2 weeks before the next challenge, at Hull. And what a sad defeat at Bolton it was, with the Icelander not appearing to be too happy with the Icelandic playing conditions. Albert seemed to get iced up as the game wore on in somewhat different playing conditions to those in Africa, I’m sure!
For me, it was not so much that we played badly but that Bolton seemed to adapt to the conditions rather better, with their defence settling down to give our favourites few opportunities. However, the opportunities we did have, if converted, would have been sufficient to have handsomely carried the match. There were two very good opportunities in the first half (Albert put wide a header from Grabban’s excellent centre, and then Grabban getting a save out of their keeper (when he would have been expected to bulge the back of the net). On top of that, Jack tried a wonderful speculative half-volley which required the keeper to tip over. The second half saw substitute Hogan forcing a fortunate clearance when, again, it really should perhaps have been in the back of the net. And then, at the death, James Bree with a fine diving header that their keeper somehow kept out. RHM might have done better with the one opportunity he did have, but c’est la vie.
Apart from their goal (handed to them by a frozen Villa defence) Bolton only had (I believe) one other real chance, a second-half opportunity which went wide.
So, after two successive defeats, and the top two looking somewhat adrift from us now, what chance do we have for automatic promotion?
What I will say is that if Bruce gets his best motivational theories into operation, the Villa will be out there and striving hard in these last eight matches. But to turn effort into triumphs our midfield has to be more dominant than they’ve shown of late.
To try to raise my own spirits (not only yours!), here’s my forecast for our remaining matches:
30-03-2018 Away Hull City Forecast: 3 points
03-04-2018 Home Reading: Forecast: 3 points
07-04-2018 Away Norwich City: Forecast: 1 point
10-04-2018 Home Cardiff City: Forecast: 3 points (or maybe 1 point)
13-04-2018 Home Leeds United: Forecast: 3 points
21-04-2018 Away Ipswich Town: Forecast: 3 points
28-04-2018 Home Derby County: Forecast: 3 points
06-05-2018 Away Millwall: Forecast: 3 points (or maybe 1 point)
It would be nice to finish with eight straight wins as we did in 1974-75, but I feel that would be hoping for too much.
So, the prediction shows a final points tally prediction (worst scenario): 69 + 18 = 87. That might gain an auto-promotion slot but is probably likely to fall shy, hence our probable fate is likely to be determined in the playoffs, where, frankly, Fulham will be a hard act to crack. If we do beat Cardiff, though, the final league placings could be very close.
What do you think?