After a few unsatisfactory performances and results from Rovers – for example, Oldham, Plymouth, Fleetwood and so on – I’ve noticed a few fans start to question whether automatic promotion is still a high possibility for Rovers this season.
It’s no secret that we’ve been rather underwhelming at times. But, is it too early to start saying automatic promotion could be out of reach?
There’s still a long way to go in the season, of course. However, if we want to gain promotion and bounce straight back to the Championship, our form will need to improve.
Currently, we’re in 6th place, 11 points from Wigan in 2nd and 12 points from Shrewsbury at the top (1 game in hand on Wigan and on Shrewsbury). This is noticeably big for so early on in the season, especially with a few Rovers fans that expected us to be walking through this league and easily in 1st place by now.
But, as what seems to be a repeating pattern with Rovers, things are never as simple as they could be. We’ve gone about this league as we have always done throughout our history, which is turn up to the bigger matches and win comfortably, but then slip up in the smaller matches which on paper, which we should be winning no problem.
An example of this would be on the 19th of April 2014 back in the Championship. We were in with a chance of the playoffs and we had what seemed to be a fairly easy game against rock bottom of the table, Yeovil Town. But as Rovers would do, they held us to a 0-0 draw at Ewood, and that proved to be one of the reasons for us agonisingly just missing out on the playoffs that year.
And similar scenarios can be seen this year with us losing to Oldham, Wimbledon, Doncaster, etc, and this can’t continue if we are looking for promotion after getting 25 points out of a possible 45 compared to a team like Wigan who have got 36 points out of a possible 48.
Even though it is very early on in the season, it is quite clear to see the gap appearing between Rovers and the league leaders.
But there is still hope for us Rovers fans.
Wigan, in their 15/16 campaign in League One where they ended up finishing champions, had 24 points at this stage in the season – and didn’t actually make the automatic promotion spots until their 32nd game of the season.
You can see how Rovers have fared compared to Wigan in their title-winning season – 2015/16.
Rovers are the blue line whilst Wigan Athletic (2015/16 season) are in yellow.
Another big talking point is our previously postponed games – Blackpool away on the 28th of November 2017, and Walsall at home on the 30th of January 2018.
These could also play a part in closing the gap between Wigan and Shrewsbury – if our gap with the league leaders is similar then to how it is now. A win in both those games could take Rovers into a very good position in terms of being in with a chance of promotion back to the Championship.
I believe that Rovers will need to improve if they hope to go up automatically this season. If we don’t, we could end up stuck in this league for years to come, and potentially falling even lower down the ranks.
It’s not a secret that we cannot afford to keep slipping up in games we should be winning. It could prove costly towards the end of the season.
Automatic promotion is still realistic, but Rovers will need to go on a winning run. Whether we will actually do this is another question.
What are your thoughts on this? Are we still in with a big chance of the title/automatic promotion or should we should start aiming for a place lower down the table?
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Thanks for reading.