I want to write with confidence that we will win today. Not because we are so much better than Swansea, because we all know that with this manager we are on a par with teams like Swansea, but because I should be able to write that about Aston Villa playing Swansea.
Chances are we will get a draw today. This manager is the draw specialist and he has mastered the art. We all know why and I'm not going into detail about setting the team up to not lose - I even wrote about it when he was managing the clowns - he is just an average manager punching above his weight.
The thing is, there is nothing he can do now apart from win the next ten games to save his job. If he wont the next ten games, even I'd have to re-evaluate what I've said about him. But he wont. The sooner the club let him go the better and every day he stays now is just making it a little worse for everyone involved.
I'm sorry about the depressing start to the post but the club did this wrong from the very start. It doesn't matter what happens today and we all know the type of football we are going to get.
We will start off with a little something about us but soon enough we'll start to sit back. Then, we will either get lucky or not. If we get lucky and get a goal, probably created by Gabby down the left or Bannan in the middle and scored by Bent, we will sit back and try to defend that lead for the rest of the game.
We could get a bit of double luck and manage it. If we do leave with a point, don't be surprised if you see nobody backing this manager with the usual 'is a hard place to go' comment. Taking three points at Swansea is what we should all be expecting.
The thing is, again, we might not get lucky. Swansea might play their game and they might be quite good at it. We should have enough about us and the way they play and the level their players are at should be good for us. We should be able to contain everything they have and we should be able to counter. I'm predicting three points for us, because three points is the minimum we should expect and it is my default position when playing promoted teams.
I say the minimum we should expect, because come on, Aston Villa should beat Swansea, but also because Paul Faulkner has set the target of European football and if we are expecting European football from this manager then we should expect to be able to beat Swansea away.
What happens if we don't win?
The thing is, it doesn't matter if we don't win today. If we win, we go back to eighth place, four or five points from the team in seventh. A point will mean we go back to eighth but with a six or seven point gap. Those gaps don't look that big and they're not to a team like Manchester United sitting second, because they will consistently win matches.
This manager will not and the teams above us will win more and both sets of teams will go through patches, but it is safe to say that we will not catch the two teams above us; Arsenal and Liverpool. There is a chance Newcastle will drop out, so in theory we are playing for a place but this is where the numbers come in to play.
Newcastle are currently 11 points better off than us, so for us to get 12 points, to move ahead of them without them even kicking a ball, would take, based on what we know about this manager, ten games.
But because in those ten games the chances are that Newcastle will pick up at minimum, eight points, we have to go to the last game of the season and assume that Newcastle only win five more games for the season, draw five and lose every other one.
So, it doesn't matter if we don't win. All that happens if we lose is he is a step closer to getting the inevitable sacking that everyone but the owner and CEO saw coming the day they hired him.
And, regardless of the result, don't be surprised to see banners next time out and if one references his comment about circus defending, I will applaud you.
But we will win today and without McLeish
Team news and banter as we get it. The odds are good for us us today and I really can not see us losing. Just by random football results we should win today. Odds below.
The shaken up team
Given, Hutton, Collins, Dunne, Warnock, Herd, Delph, N’Zogbia, Heskey, Bent and Gabby. On the bench is Guzan, Bannan, Albrighton, Clark, Cuellar, Delfouneso and Jenas.