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Offline frazzle

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If we don’t go up
« on: February 09, 2019, 08:05:56 AM »
Now don’t get me wrong - I’m desperate for us to win every game and get promoted. But what if we don’t?

Having seen the youth players I’m quite excited at the prospect of not going up and basing our squad around our youth. Failure to go up would mean we would lose a big chunk of the squad I think, but with some decent youth players already in the team, if we didn’t go up I’d be quite excited to see what sort of a team we could put together, built around our youth. We could easily see 4 or 5 youth players in our starting 11 every week.

So for me, not going up wouldn’t necessarily be doomsday. 

Offline iwastherein68

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2019, 08:13:54 AM »
Pretty much summed up my feelings. In fact as I have previously stated, when we went down i hoped for a clearout of the old brigade and the building of a new young team.
I cannot see how we can survive in the Prem with our current group (our own players) and limited funds to reinforce the squad. Better surely to build a team with a fighting chance of survival and progression.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2019, 08:28:49 AM by iwastherein68 »
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Offline mulliganstired

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2019, 08:22:54 AM »
I put this on the Moore thread 45 secs before this one was started -

We must have a plan for not going up, and Moore taking the young players forward with a few careful signings assuming we lose Rodriguez, Gibbs and Dawson and all the loan players would be my preference.

Offline frazzle

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2019, 09:09:49 AM »
I put this on the Moore thread 45 secs before this one was started -

We must have a plan for not going up, and Moore taking the young players forward with a few careful signings assuming we lose Rodriguez, Gibbs and Dawson and all the loan players would be my preference.

I saw that after I’d posted. At my age it takes me longer than 45 secs to post :). I do think we have a good nucleus to build around for next year, but we would still need a lot of players.

Offline wba_1996

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2019, 09:36:10 AM »
We'd really struggle, make no mistake. We've chosen the short-term option in virtually every decision since appointing Pulis. The squad is getting broken up next summer regardless of what league we're in. It's why I'm so critical of Moore, all our eggs are in this season's basket.

We're off the pace as it is, and that's with the best squad in the league full of PL experience.

Offline mulliganstired

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2019, 09:51:13 AM »
I saw that after I’d posted. At my age it takes me longer than 45 secs to post :). I do think we have a good nucleus to build around for next year, but we would still need a lot of players.
I think our chances of going up are about 50/50 now, we might go on a fantastic run if the new signings click and get in the automatic places, but a play off place could also slip out of our hands if we keep conceding 3 goals at home.  The play offs themselves are basically a lottery anyway.  So we have got have a contingency plan that could involve settling in the champ for a few seasons, building on the academy and hopefully being regular contenders like Derby/Norwich - the alternative could be Bolton's dire predicament, and how will Stoke/Swansea/Villa cope financially if they don't go back up this season?


Offline LiamTheBaggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2019, 09:57:40 AM »
The only positive to not going up is that next season we can build a squad around the likes of Harper, Field, Fitzwater and other promising graduates. No more reliance and contracts to the likes of Brunt, Barry and Morrison

The likes of Dawson, Hegazi, Rodriguez, Livermore, Gibbs would be sold to make some money for Moore to utilise to rebuild a squad.

Will be a real test of Luke Dowling and his abilities because we would undoubtedly need some smart recruitment. I guess it will be reminiscent of Mowbrays second season where we rebuilt wisely with clever recruitment once the big earners had been shipped out.
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Offline Standaman

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2019, 10:35:50 AM »
I think regardless of the Division we find ourselves there is going to be a lot of decisions to be made on players and fairly significant rebuild is on the cards.

In the scenario where we don't get promoted I think a lot of the Senior Pro's move on although not everyone that you might expect and the loanees return to their clubs.

Obviously the younger players will be pushed forward. We will also return to the loan market and while I know lots of posters on here don't like it there is a source of talent that we cannot afford to ignore because our rivals won't that is for sure. 

I am far from dismayed at this prospect. Given that we would be recruiting to a clear shape and pattern of play I would hope that we end up with a better balanced squad even if we don't have quite the same level of individual talent. Norwich are doing well on the back of this even though their squad on paper is less strong than it was last year, although finding a Pukki (remember you would have been underwhelmed had we signed him at the start of the season) would certainly help.

I think our chances of going up are about 50/50 now, we might go on a fantastic run if the new signings click and get in the automatic places, but a play off place could also slip out of our hands if we keep conceding 3 goals at home.  The play offs themselves are basically a lottery anyway.  So we have got have a contingency plan that could involve settling in the champ for a few seasons, building on the academy and hopefully being regular contenders like Derby/Norwich - the alternative could be Bolton's dire predicament, and how will Stoke/Swansea/Villa cope financially if they don't go back up this season?



Without knowing the detail of the other club's financial position I would generally rather be in our position i.e. 40% chance of promotion this year compared to less than 10% and our financial position is okay going forward.

 Bolton is a whole different class of mess but then again they were relegated with substantial debt and never were able to balance the books. Stoke are in a similar position to Villa a couple of seasons ago. They have gambled on promotion and lost the question is do they stick or twist? Sooner or latter they have to take drastic action on that squad and it's wage bill.

Villa gambled and lost. Twisted ,lost, doubled down and lost again, they are now pretty much broke it's 4am the Casino closes in an hour and they have their taxi fare on the table hoping to get out of it. They will have to make some player sales to balance the books otherwise they will be in all sorts of bother with FFP.

Swansea were losing £400k a week in the Premier League some of the contracts they gave players were truly horrendous and they didn't have relegation clauses in them. To some degree they have taken the hit this season out of necessity but overall if I were not in the mix for promotion I would rather be in their position than Stokes but I would rather be in contention for promotion.
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Offline OldburyWBA

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2019, 11:09:28 AM »
The only positive to not going up is that next season we can build a squad around the likes of Harper, Field, Fitzwater and other promising graduates. No more reliance and contracts to the likes of Brunt, Barry and Morrison

The likes of Dawson, Hegazi, Rodriguez, Livermore, Gibbs would be sold to make some money for Moore to utilise to rebuild a squad.

Will be a real test of Luke Dowling and his abilities because we would undoubtedly need some smart recruitment. I guess it will be reminiscent of Mowbrays second season where we rebuilt wisely with clever recruitment once the big earners had been shipped out.

Guarantee Brunt will be given a new deal, Morrison will take up the 2nd year of his but Barry the one of the 3 who we would be better keeping to help the young kids through will go and they will not have that central midfield experience to guide them.
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Offline silver surfer

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2019, 11:20:47 AM »
Villa gambled and lost. Twisted ,lost, doubled down and lost again, they are now pretty much broke it's 4am the Casino closes in an hour and they have their taxi fare on the table hoping to get out of it.
Great analogy made me chuckle.
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Offline TheJacko2000

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2019, 02:46:11 PM »
The only one of our youngsters currently capable of playing regularly in a team at the top end of this division is Harper, who isn't contracted to the club next year. Disaster if we don't go up and we're left to rely on these lads.
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Offline OldburyWBA

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2019, 02:52:19 PM »
Field now they've stopped the messing around with him as a centre half and put him back in the middle is showing he is capable of being in a side at the top of this division just as much as Harper just as he showed when called upon last season (Pardew time apart when he was hung out to dry) that he is capable at the higher level, natural central midfielder who can tackle and pass a ball who also has an excellent player with the experience of Barry to learn from.

Barry, Harper and Field have done well recently along with Hoolahan in his cameos and now with Livermore and Johansen the midfield looks better than it has done all season.
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Offline WBAinDEVON

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2019, 02:53:24 PM »
we will be in this league for many seasons to come
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Offline Fritzl Palace

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2019, 02:53:30 PM »
The only one of our youngsters currently capable of playing regularly in a team at the top end of this division is Harper, who isn't contracted to the club next year. Disaster if we don't go up and we're left to rely on these lads.

You occasionally absolutely nail it, and have done here. I agree with you entirely. I am all for playing the kids...if they are good enough, but of the current crop, I would only have faith in Harper to be in that bracket. Field has regressed, Fitzwater was recalled and I am guessing no one higher than Walsall wanted him, Leko has no end product, Edwards burns brightly and fades just as quickly, the two lads that came on the other night are pure potential.

We need promotion this season

Offline Nice1Cyrille

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2019, 02:58:04 PM »
The only one of our youngsters currently capable of playing regularly in a team at the top end of this division is Harper, who isn't contracted to the club next year. Disaster if we don't go up and we're left to rely on these lads.
Have to agree, if we are left with these youngsters as the backbone or our team then I see us in this division for many seasons to come. Without the cash injection of the PL we will just become a mediocre team like so many before us.

Offline gazberg

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2019, 02:58:39 PM »
Yep we are proper screwed if we don't go up. The squad isn't good enough once all our 'PL' players leave. I also fear our board will resort to try to holding onto the likes of Brunt and Mozza who are not value for money anymore even in the champo.

Offline Albion79

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2019, 03:24:14 PM »
Its a tough one as i know for the clubs benefit they need to go up ASAP for financial reasons.

However as a fan i would be quite happy to stay in this league for another year or two after this, be entertained, build a new younger squad if thats what it takes and then hopefully go up.

I know quite a few Villa fans and the first season they were down they enjoyed it, it was a new experience, last season the same, however this season they are desperate to get back up, not only for financial reasons but they also want the buzz of playing the big games again.

I feel like that now, i am bored stupid of the premier league after largely 8 seasons of making up the numbers, i want some excitement and enjoyment because that is partly what football is supposed to  involve (plus all the other emotions) and i have started to get that buzz back again a bit this season.

If we got promoted this season i would not be the least big excited, the premier league good memories are few and combined with no effort to do well in the cups (despite their being no excuse when you are comfortable mid table premier league) the whole thing still p****s me off, however i would hope in a couple of years time, similar to the Villa fans, i would be desperate to get back up again.

Of course the above is all very idealistic and you cant pick and choose when you get promoted, the risk of the above is you do never make it back and become a graveyard club in the championship like a Ipswich, Sheffield Wednesday, Forest, etc never really look like going up or down and you become a nothing championship club instead of a nothing premier league club (though Ipswich may break that trend this year!)

However being in the premier league made me bored of the Albion and also start to get fedup of football in general and i didnt like that feeling so i would happily take the risk of not being promoted so if we dont go up, thats fine with me! 

Offline AlbionFan

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2019, 03:33:02 PM »
Much as I like the fact we are competitive in this league, I fear that if we don't get promoted, not only will we lose some of our better more experienced player, but I think the vultures will be circling round our better younger players also. And a major rebuild that could take years to bear fruit
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Offline TheJacko2000

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2019, 03:36:37 PM »
Much as I like the fact we are competitive in this league, I fear that if we don't get promoted, not only will we lose some of our better more experienced player, but I think the vultures will be circling round our better younger players also. And a major rebuild that could take years to bear fruit


Correct, we won't be competitive in this division next season.
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Offline Adamstv

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2019, 03:54:59 PM »

Correct, we won't be competitive in this division next season.

Agree with this 100%. I don’t mind going up and coming down again - at least we would have some cash to build again. Enjoying the championship but need to go back to the greed league even for 1 season

Online overseas baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2019, 09:25:28 PM »

Correct, we won't be competitive in this division next season.

Our parachute payment next season is only £8m lower than this season. Why are people panicking? Sell Rondon and half his fee covers the income reduction. It’s the season after that when everything changes.

Offline TheJacko2000

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2019, 09:26:22 PM »
Our parachute payment next season is only £8m lower than this season. Why are people panicking? Sell Rondon and half his fee covers the income reduction. It’s the season after that when everything changes.


Lai will not spend ANY money, our parachute payments go on our wages.
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Offline Adder

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2019, 10:13:18 PM »

Lai will not spend ANY money, our parachute payments go on our wages.
Lai wants us to be self financing and hopefully that doesn't mean he (that is we) won't spend anything. If we sell 3,4 or more of Rondon, Phillips, Rodriguez, Livermore, Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs, I would expect us to have some options lined up to replace them ...less high profile players yes but targeted replacements and loans to supplement the younger players and any others that remain.

Online overseas baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2019, 10:26:50 PM »

Lai will not spend ANY money, our parachute payments go on our wages.

My point is that Lai doesn’t need to. We will simply have £8m
less income compared with this year and that shortfall will be covered twice over by selling Rondon.  Nothing else changes.

Offline TheJacko2000

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2019, 10:28:56 PM »
My point is that Lai doesn’t need to. We will simply have £8m
less income compared with this year and that shortfall will be covered twice over by selling Rondon.  Nothing else changes.


But we haven't spent anything this year (really). Selling Rondon, not to mention Rodriguez, Livermore, Dawson, Gibbs and Hegazi won't bring in anything that will be passed on to Darren to spend.
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Offline Adder

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2019, 10:43:53 PM »

But we haven't spent anything this year (really). Selling Rondon, not to mention Rodriguez, Livermore, Dawson, Gibbs and Hegazi won't bring in anything that will be passed on to Darren to spend.
We can't be sure of that though. I think we know he's not going to give his own money to Darren to spend but other than that we can still hope that the club hierarchy wants us to stay in the upper reaches of the Championship with a chance of going back up and that would include some sort of reinvestment in replacements.

Online overseas baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2019, 10:47:25 PM »

But we haven't spent anything this year (really). Selling Rondon, not to mention Rodriguez, Livermore, Dawson, Gibbs and Hegazi won't bring in anything that will be passed on to Darren to spend.

If we sell players then there’s money to spend on replacements without Lai needing to put money in.  If we don’t sell players then there’s no need to buy replacements and so Lai won’t need to put money in.  If we sell Rondon for £15m  and use £8m of it to cover the reduced parachute funding then we’ve still got £7m of that left to spend without Lai putting in extra money.  We won’t miss Rondon as we don’t have him now. We can still pay the current wages without selling anybody else.

Why is this so complicated to understand?  It is the following season when we’d be having to sell to hugely reduce the wage bill.

Offline TheJacko2000

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #27 on: February 09, 2019, 10:49:21 PM »
We can't be sure of that though. I think we know he's not going to give his own money to Darren to spend but other than that we can still hope that the club hierarchy wants us to stay in the upper reaches of the Championship with a chance of going back up and that would include some sort of reinvestment in replacements.


Agree we can't be sure, but we can probaby surmise it to be true.


If we sell players then there’s money to spend on replacements without Lai needing to put money in.  If we don’t sell players then there’s no need to buy replacements and so Lai won’t need to put money in.  If we sell Rondon for £15m  and use £8m of it to cover the reduced parachute funding then we’ve still got £7m of that left to spend without Lai putting in extra money.  We won’t miss Rondon as we don’t have him now. We can still pay the current wages without selling anybody else.

Why is this so complicated to understand?  It is the following season when we’d be having to sell to hugely reduce the wage bill.


I don't think we'll be in any financial danger. I just don't think we'll re-invest transfer fees into the playing squad.
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Online overseas baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #28 on: February 09, 2019, 10:56:55 PM »

Agree we can't be sure, but we can probaby surmise it to be true.



I don't think we'll be in any financial danger. I just don't think we'll re-invest transfer fees into the playing squad.

We’ll find out if and when the time comes.  In the meantime there’s no need and no point in panicking.

Offline TheJacko2000

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #29 on: February 09, 2019, 11:03:06 PM »
We’ll find out if and when the time comes.  In the meantime there’s no need and no point in panicking.


Who's panicking?
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Offline geoff

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #30 on: February 10, 2019, 12:37:31 AM »
If we don't go up i would 100% keep the management team together has i be-leave that they could put together a younger squad to play fast free 1 & 2 touch football & another season would help achieve that & help big Dave to. Having said that i think we will win automatic promotion this season, just hope big Dave keeps learning his trade has he is doing now.

Offline Adder

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #31 on: February 10, 2019, 09:14:46 AM »
If we don't go up i would 100% keep the management team together has i be-leave that they could put together a younger squad to play fast free 1 & 2 touch football & another season would help achieve that & help big Dave to. Having said that i think we will win automatic promotion this season, just hope big Dave keeps learning his trade has he is doing now.
Yes agreed re keeping the management team together if possible - (Jones is in demand and could be in further demand in the summer). It's enjoyable to watch and evolving a younger squad should make us more suited to playing this way.

Lai has said he wants the club to be self financing. That's the way we operated under Peace anyway, as far as I know. Peace used to take some stick but there are far worse ways to run a football club. Under him we developed the academy and improved the training facilities.

Offline Standaman

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #32 on: February 10, 2019, 11:49:18 AM »
The TV income for this season and the following 3 years the final one is the standard payment under the current Championship deal.

Year 1 £42m
Year 2 £34m
Year 3 £17m
Year 4 £7.6m

These numbers will be what dictates the club's strategy. I take self sustaining to mean the club spends what it earns and if it don't earn it then it don't spend it. This is entirely reasonable and football would be a better and sainer if that applied equally to all football clubs.

The key here is while we could afford to keep the current wage bill next year and the sale of Rondon alone could plug the gap what we cannot do is commit to paying those wages the following year and the year after. At some point we have to start paying Championship level wages.

The other dynamic is that the club cannot afford to let players leave on frees if a player can generate a fee and we cannot afford to offer them an extention on existing terms (we can't) then we need to sell. This summer is probably the optimum point for selling on those players that came down with us while they still have time on their contracts. Equally a lot of those players are of an age where if they don't get a Premier League contract in the next couple of seasons they won't be getting one. The club needs to sell and the players want to leave.

Looking at the contracts only 3 players are contracted to 2022 Johnstone, Hegazi and Field. Everyone else has two years or less on their contracts a lot with big wages and no sensible offer could be turned down.

We do need to secure our better youngsters on long-term deals particularly Harper and we do need to make every penny we do have count. It is a tough job for the DoF and the Management team but there is no need to be too dispondent if we don't make it back this this year.
 


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Offline zippyandbungle

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #33 on: February 10, 2019, 11:53:07 AM »
Yes agreed re keeping the management team together if possible - (Jones is in demand and could be in further demand in the summer). It's enjoyable to watch and evolving a younger squad should make us more suited to playing this way.

Lai has said he wants the club to be self financing. That's the way we operated under Peace anyway, as far as I know. Peace used to take some stick but there are far worse ways to run a football club. Under him we developed the academy and improved the training facilities.
Jones was in demand.....Luton, to my knowledge the only club that asked ?
If we don't go up surely (with this squad) that is failure? So I'm not sure it will be as cut and dry as keeping DM, in fact I think he is in a difficult position and would not be totally surprised that if we got up through the play offs , he would be replaced anyway

Not saying I want or would do this, but I can see why the owners would
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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #34 on: February 10, 2019, 12:12:11 PM »
Jones was in demand.....Luton, to my knowledge the only club that asked ?
If we don't go up surely (with this squad) that is failure? So I'm not sure it will be as cut and dry as keeping DM, in fact I think he is in a difficult position and would not be totally surprised that if we got up through the play offs , he would be replaced anyway

Not saying I want or would do this, but I can see why the owners would

I truly despair.

It would be insane to get rid of DM. The job that he has done in stabilising and galvanizing the club over the past 12 months after the sh*tstorm that had developed, plus his massive future role in bringing this superb crop of youngsters through, means that he’ll be going nowhere even if we failed to reach the playoffs.

It’s true that he is learning on the job, and that his in-game management must improve, but the best way to learn is by experience, and the only way to get experience is to get experience! Yes, we could have appointed a more experienced manager, but not one who could be doing what DM is doing to rebuild the club, which was essential.




Online overseas baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #35 on: February 10, 2019, 12:25:42 PM »
The TV income for this season and the following 3 years the final one is the standard payment under the current Championship deal.

Year 1 £42m
Year 2 £34m
Year 3 £17m
Year 4 £7.6m

These numbers will be what dictates the club's strategy. I take self sustaining to mean the club spends what it earns and if it don't earn it then it don't spend it. This is entirely reasonable and football would be a better and sainer if that applied equally to all football clubs.

The key here is while we could afford to keep the current wage bill next year and the sale of Rondon alone could plug the gap what we cannot do is commit to paying those wages the following year and the year after. At some point we have to start paying Championship level wages.

The other dynamic is that the club cannot afford to let players leave on frees if a player can generate a fee and we cannot afford to offer them an extention on existing terms (we can't) then we need to sell. This summer is probably the optimum point for selling on those players that came down with us while they still have time on their contracts. Equally a lot of those players are of an age where if they don't get a Premier League contract in the next couple of seasons they won't be getting one. The club needs to sell and the players want to leave.

Looking at the contracts only 3 players are contracted to 2022 Johnstone, Hegazi and Field. Everyone else has two years or less on their contracts a lot with big wages and no sensible offer could be turned down.

We do need to secure our better youngsters on long-term deals particularly Harper and we do need to make every penny we do have count. It is a tough job for the DoF and the Management team but there is no need to be too dispondent if we don't make it back this this year.

Some excellent points there, but a few questions.

After the relegation flexdowns on the wage contracts, surely the whole squad is now on Championship-level wages, albeit at the top end of the scale? Or are you saying that we’d still have far too many at the top end of that scale once the parachute payments really drop away after 2019/2020?  I fully agree with you that we can’t afford to be left with too many high earners who we can’t afford to pay if we haven’t gone up by the end of next season.  The balancing act to get us up next year (if required) will be to retain enough quality to ensure that we are strong, whilst selling some. 

A lot will come down to how quickly our youngsters develop (might we still be asking too much of them next season?) and how successful Dowling is at reinvigorating our re recruitment system after the ineptness of the past 3-4 years.  The right blend of retained experience plus outstanding youngsters plus new purchases of young exciting talent with resale potential plus Premier loanees should still see us very well placed next season.

Clearly Morrison, Brunt and Myhill would be going, and probably Barry, Hoolahan and HRK. Lots of wages saved there (probably more than £150k/week!) plus Rondon.  The Premier loanees wage bill would need to be matched with new Premier loanees, and we’d need to be paying out youngsters more.   That’s all before we actually sell any players (except Rondon). A couple of sales may well be enough.

Offline Westie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #36 on: February 10, 2019, 09:23:52 PM »
If we go up, then suffer another relegation from the Premier League, the Club may well sack DM, which would be terrible. Go up or stay in the Championship, there will be difficult issues. The best scenario would be for us to get promoted and then for Lai to sell up quickly to someone who is prepared to put some real money into the team. Getting rid of Lai is top of my wish list.

Offline zippyandbungle

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #37 on: February 10, 2019, 10:02:20 PM »
I truly despair.

It would be insane to get rid of DM. The job that he has done in stabilising and galvanizing the club over the past 12 months after the sh*tstorm that had developed, plus his massive future role in bringing this superb crop of youngsters through, means that he’ll be going nowhere even if we failed to reach the playoffs.

It’s true that he is learning on the job, and that his in-game management must improve, but the best way to learn is by experience, and the only way to get experience is to get experience! Yes, we could have appointed a more experienced manager, but not one who could be doing what DM is doing to rebuild the club, which was essential.
What are you despairing at?
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Offline Standaman

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #38 on: February 10, 2019, 11:58:47 PM »
Some excellent points there, but a few questions.

After the relegation flexdowns on the wage contracts, surely the whole squad is now on Championship-level wages, albeit at the top end of the scale? Or are you saying that we’d still have far too many at the top end of that scale once the parachute payments really drop away after 2019/2020?  I fully agree with you that we can’t afford to be left with too many high earners who we can’t afford to pay if we haven’t gone up by the end of next season.  The balancing act to get us up next year (if required) will be to retain enough quality to ensure that we are strong, whilst selling some. 

A lot will come down to how quickly our youngsters develop (might we still be asking too much of them next season?) and how successful Dowling is at reinvigorating our re recruitment system after the ineptness of the past 3-4 years.  The right blend of retained experience plus outstanding youngsters plus new purchases of young exciting talent with resale potential plus Premier loanees should still see us very well placed next season.

Clearly Morrison, Brunt and Myhill would be going, and probably Barry, Hoolahan and HRK. Lots of wages saved there (probably more than £150k/week!) plus Rondon.  The Premier loanees wage bill would need to be matched with new Premier loanees, and we’d need to be paying out youngsters more.   That’s all before we actually sell any players (except Rondon). A couple of sales may well be enough.

There are two slightly different dynamics in play. There is managing the wage bill down to a Championship norm which as you say will happen as players contracts expire. To quantify this our current wage bill is reported as being £38m. I understand that Barry and Gayle our top earners on £30k a week but there is a host of players earning between £20k and 30k a week. By year 4 (season 21/22) to be sustainable the wage bill has to be less than half than it is now that implies a top earner at a stretch of £20k a week and that would have to be balanced out by a lot of players earning considerably less.

We will continue to utilise the Premier League loan market and it is important to understand it is not a cheap option in terms of wages I doubt if any of our current loanees is costing less than £20k a week in wages and some considerably more. These players or their future replacements won't get any cheaper.

The second part of this is fees. Where we have players who we might get a fee for we cannot afford not to cash in. Typically our players are on short contracts and those that are saleable are in their late 20's time is not on our side.

That does not mean everyone we might sell is sold far from it but what is absolutely certain is that this squad is quite likely to be largely broken up at the end of the season. 










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Online overseas baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #39 on: February 11, 2019, 06:55:48 AM »
What are you despairing at?
I said I wouldn't do it....but I think that he chairman could consider it

I despair at the mere thought of it, after what DM has achieved and is currently achieving. I appreciate that you wouldn’t do it, but there are quite a few out there who have the knives out for DM for whatever reason. Probably the same sorts who would welcome the likes of Mark Hughes as manager!

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #40 on: February 11, 2019, 07:03:20 AM »
There are two slightly different dynamics in play. There is managing the wage bill down to a Championship norm which as you say will happen as players contracts expire. To quantify this our current wage bill is reported as being £38m. I understand that Barry and Gayle our top earners on £30k a week but there is a host of players earning between £20k and 30k a week. By year 4 (season 21/22) to be sustainable the wage bill has to be less than half than it is now that implies a top earner at a stretch of £20k a week and that would have to be balanced out by a lot of players earning considerably less.

We will continue to utilise the Premier League loan market and it is important to understand it is not a cheap option in terms of wages I doubt if any of our current loanees is costing less than £20k a week in wages and some considerably more. These players or their future replacements won't get any cheaper.

The second part of this is fees. Where we have players who we might get a fee for we cannot afford not to cash in. Typically our players are on short contracts and those that are saleable are in their late 20's time is not on our side.

That does not mean everyone we might sell is sold far from it but what is absolutely certain is that this squad is quite likely to be largely broken up at the end of the season.

Yes that all makes sense.  All a question of balance.  I just hope that we can get rid of the “right” ones and don’t get left with the “wrong” ones.  I also hope that if we do generate decent player sales money then we buy wisely in the market. We need to find the equivalents of Dack and Lolley 18 months ago before they became what they are worth today after Forest and Blackburn bought them.   Loanee wages can be managed season by season and of course there is a cap on only having 5 in the squad on match day. Am sure we would use all those up in 2019/20 (if we don’t go up) but could probably only afford one of them on 2020/21 if we are still down.

But let’s get up and eradicate the conundrums!

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #41 on: February 11, 2019, 07:04:35 AM »
If we go up, then suffer another relegation from the Premier League, the Club may well sack DM, which would be terrible. Go up or stay in the Championship, there will be difficult issues. The best scenario would be for us to get promoted and then for Lai to sell up quickly to someone who is prepared to put some real money into the team. Getting rid of Lai is top of my wish list.

Hard to disagree re Lai.  And selling after being promoted has to be his one way out.

Offline seteefeet

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #42 on: February 11, 2019, 09:16:02 AM »
I still think we will be in a strong position if we don't go up, as we have a lot of sellable assets. The likes of Rondon, Rodriguez, Dawson, Gibbs, Livermore, Hegazi, Phillips will all command a price, so that fits the self sufficiency model.
Yes, they will have to be replaced, and yes it will be with younger, cheaper options, but that doesn't necessarily mean worse. We don't have to sell them all though, dependant on contracts, we only sell if it's right for the club.
We don't have a lot of expensive deadwood draining the wage bill, like the Villa did, so our destiny should still be in our own hands and I'd be more than happy to let Moore and Jones oversee this transition. Better that than someone like Moyes, Hughes or Allardyce anyway.

Offline Mister AT

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #43 on: February 11, 2019, 10:21:58 AM »
It would all depend on the owners plans in the summer.

Holgate, Tosin, Montero, Johansen, Murphy, Gayle would all be going back to their clubs.

Mears, Hoolahan will be out of contract.

Brunt, Morrison, Myhill should be leaving in the summer regardless of the division.
Barry hasn't got much longer left.

Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs, Livermore, Rodriguez, Phillips, Rondon would all go for a reasonable sum of money, but it would depend what was done with that money.

The team with all those out would look like this:

Johnstone

Wilson
Fitzwater
Bartley
Townsend

Barry
Field
Harper

Leko
HRK
Edwards

That squad would need some serious additions to challenge for promotion.
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Offline Oldbury24

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #44 on: February 11, 2019, 10:51:48 AM »
I still think we will be in a strong position if we don't go up, as we have a lot of sellable assets. The likes of Rondon, Rodriguez, Dawson, Gibbs, Livermore, Hegazi, Phillips will all command a price, so that fits the self sufficiency model.
Yes, they will have to be replaced, and yes it will be with younger, cheaper options, but that doesn't necessarily mean worse. We don't have to sell them all though, dependant on contracts, we only sell if it's right for the club.
We don't have a lot of expensive deadwood draining the wage bill, like the Villa did, so our destiny should still be in our own hands and I'd be more than happy to let Moore and Jones oversee this transition. Better that than someone like Moyes, Hughes or Allardyce anyway.

Either iehter for me.....

If we do go up it will be interesting to see what Darren Moore can do with those players mentioned above in the PL.  No doubt we would struggle as most of these players do sit in the zone of "too good for the Championship, not quite good enough to impact the PL" but hopefully we could continue to play the right way and not in the desperate, strangulating way we did at the end under TP and then Pardew.   We would need to utilise the loan market again as purse strings will be tight at PL level, however it would allow us to keep the majority of players we want and cherry pick from the best of the younger players in the lower divisions and B list abroad, which will set us up to challenge again if we do go down. 

If we don't go up this year then the new recruitment team will really need to start earning their money as the squad will likely go through the complete over-hall that will be due sooner or later anyway. We should be there or there abouts this year, so these players should be trading at the mid-top end of their price range so there will be some money to re-invest and wages should be easier to meet for players outside of the PL experience bracket.   Another year in the division will also tell us just how good our Academy graduates are - the warning is that none of the previous graduates who flew the coop have actually gone on to show themselves as top players yet.   But what if some of those players had come through as a group?  Might it have made a difference?   

My best days as a fan have been dependent on being proud of the team no matter what division.  Yes, the mid table PL years gave real highlights - Uncle Roy's occasional number on one of the big boys were great at the time and those early golden months of Clarke's tenure taking us near the top 6 and ending with the Beast's goals in Fergies 5-5 swan song. However, i've got equally fond memories outside of the PL, including Ossies ridiculous footballing principles on the way to Wembley in the old div 2, SGM making a quality signing for every position we were weak and setting up teams to score first then defend a lead in the Champ, TM's team without any defenders that got us promoted with some great football and came straight back down in a blaze of glory.  Rose tinted possibly......but i have no rose tint associated with just playing to survive and giving up at 40 points.

   

Offline Albion79

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #45 on: February 11, 2019, 11:19:06 AM »
Not sure if this is the right topic but obviously we dont know what Lai's intentions really are.

However, the season we got relegated we had the 7th highest net spend in the premier league, the january window before that we spent £10m on Livermore (unheard of at Albion in January) we broke our transfer records and were paying players over £100k a week so i think we have spent a lot of money for our position, we obviously didnt spend it wisely though.

I am not sure what people expect when they say real money, look at now established premier league clubs - Burnley, Watford, Brighton, Bournemouth to give examples, all doing in the premier league what we were doing for years before them and they spent a lot of money to get to the level they are now and where we were, they havent achieved anything that we didnt, in fact us finishing 8th was better than a lot of what they have done (I know finishing 8th isnt a celebration but with how football is, nowadays thats our realistic aim as rubbish as that is)

Now because the last two seasons the incomes have been better because of the tv money, so the transfer fees and wages have increased, the same as if we went up i think we probably wont be far off signing our first £20m player (certainly 2nd season if we stayed up) because thats how we were heading anyway, signing Ideye, Livermore, Rondon, Chadli for big fees. We may see more players on £100k a week, again thats where we were heading by big wages for Fletcher, Evans then Greg and Sturridge.

Personally i would rather not go that route but thats the way money in football is heading and i think its a myth that we didnt spend good money, we did for our resources, we just didnt spend it well.

Club owners of similar size to us tend to spend their own money in getting clubs the premier league, but once they get promoted they will use mainly the incomes they receive from being in the premier league and then take a return on their investment, pretty much what we did for years until we got relegated. This season we kept most of our big names, especially at this level (and with that comes big wages) instead of having a mass firesale when that would of been the quick way for Lai to recoup his money, if we dont go up that will probably happen.

Wolves may be one of the exceptions to most clubs outside the top 6, their owners are saying the right stuff and they have a system that is working with Mendes, so far so good, but the time to judge them will be in a few years when the players they currently have - Neves, Jota, Jonny, etc , they likely will be sold, ie - Fosun and Mendes get returns on their investments.

If Wolves break into the top 4 or go on to become a football giant then fair play to them but i think the reality is they will become an established premier league club (ie - Albion upto 2017-2018, Watford, Burnley, etc) and they have just gone a different route to become that via the Mendes link, they may do well in the cups which is something i do think Albion have badly let themselves down with over the years.

Sadly i dont think many billionaires will be rushing to buy the Albion and waste money, if Lai goes we will likely get owners who will come and in and do what Peace did, Lai himself has done and majority of other premier league clubs outside the top 6 do.

Offline Oldbury24

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #46 on: February 11, 2019, 11:21:18 AM »
If we go up, then suffer another relegation from the Premier League, the Club may well sack DM, which would be terrible. Go up or stay in the Championship, there will be difficult issues. The best scenario would be for us to get promoted and then for Lai to sell up quickly to someone who is prepared to put some real money into the team. Getting rid of Lai is top of my wish list.

We have been awaiting our sugar daddy for a long time.....but this just seems very unlikely to me.  We have a proud and solid history but have not won a trophy for 50 years.  We do not have the big city (or one club city) location or potential growth in fan base to attract real money, and we would need a BIG spender not a Randy Seal or potential bankrupt to come in.  Unless you were a fan, why would anybody be prepared to put real money into the team when even a spend of £100 million plus does not guarantee success.    From Places 13 down anyone could go, even the likes of Palace who did spend big at one point (can you imagine the Albion spurting £35million on Benteke) and obs Fulham.    Watford and Wolves have done well without spending big, but their success is based around some very shady international relationships between multiple clubs and agents rather than up front investment.

Offline SmethDan

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #47 on: February 11, 2019, 12:43:46 PM »
Now don’t get me wrong - I’m desperate for us to win every game and get promoted. But what if we don’t? .................

I predict a mass outbreak of whining, wailing, hand wringing and teeth gnashing as the Albion's Tw@tter and Facefk accounts go into meltdown. As for this and other forums I'd advise staying away from them for a while before marking all posts as read once you've logged back in. Here to help  ;D .
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Offline Jeremy Roland Peace

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #48 on: February 11, 2019, 01:02:05 PM »
one of our best seasons in recent times was the season after we failed to go up, sold most of the existing squad and rebuilt the team that gave us excitment and enjoyment pretty much every week of the following season.

Online overseas baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #49 on: February 11, 2019, 02:14:38 PM »
It would all depend on the owners plans in the summer.

Holgate, Tosin, Montero, Johansen, Murphy, Gayle would all be going back to their clubs.

Mears, Hoolahan will be out of contract.

Brunt, Morrison, Myhill should be leaving in the summer regardless of the division.
Barry hasn't got much longer left.

Dawson, Hegazi, Gibbs, Livermore, Rodriguez, Phillips, Rondon would all go for a reasonable sum of money, but it would depend what was done with that money.

The team with all those out would look like this:

Johnstone

Wilson
Fitzwater
Bartley
Townsend

Barry
Field
Harper

Leko
HRK
Edwards

That squad would need some serious additions to challenge for promotion.


Well if you sold those 7 (you forgot Burke by the way) then there’s c£80m of transfer fees to fund the squad enhancement.  Spend £50m of it on young hungry new signings plus £8m-£10m on wages for next season’s loanees and there’s still maybe a spare £20m to put towards the following season’s drop in funding.

With good scouting and good development of our youngsters we’d be in good shape.

Online overseas baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #50 on: February 11, 2019, 02:20:19 PM »
Either iehter for me.....

If we do go up it will be interesting to see what Darren Moore can do with those players mentioned above in the PL.  No doubt we would struggle as most of these players do sit in the zone of "too good for the Championship, not quite good enough to impact the PL" but hopefully we could continue to play the right way and not in the desperate, strangulating way we did at the end under TP and then Pardew.   We would need to utilise the loan market again as purse strings will be tight at PL level, however it would allow us to keep the majority of players we want and cherry pick from the best of the younger players in the lower divisions and B list abroad, which will set us up to challenge again if we do go down. 

If we don't go up this year then the new recruitment team will really need to start earning their money as the squad will likely go through the complete over-hall that will be due sooner or later anyway. We should be there or there abouts this year, so these players should be trading at the mid-top end of their price range so there will be some money to re-invest and wages should be easier to meet for players outside of the PL experience bracket.   Another year in the division will also tell us just how good our Academy graduates are - the warning is that none of the previous graduates who flew the coop have actually gone on to show themselves as top players yet.   But what if some of those players had come through as a group?  Might it have made a difference?   

My best days as a fan have been dependent on being proud of the team no matter what division.  Yes, the mid table PL years gave real highlights - Uncle Roy's occasional number on one of the big boys were great at the time and those early golden months of Clarke's tenure taking us near the top 6 and ending with the Beast's goals in Fergies 5-5 swan song. However, i've got equally fond memories outside of the PL, including Ossies ridiculous footballing principles on the way to Wembley in the old div 2, SGM making a quality signing for every position we were weak and setting up teams to score first then defend a lead in the Champ, TM's team without any defenders that got us promoted with some great football and came straight back down in a blaze of glory.  Rose tinted possibly......but i have no rose tint associated with just playing to survive and giving up at 40 points.

   

Spot on.  I’d rather be a yo-yo club and enjoy the swings than just stagnate in the PL trying to limp to 40 points. 

Offline Standaman

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #51 on: February 11, 2019, 09:20:25 PM »
Striking the balance between stripping the squad down but at the same time ensuring it is competitive next year is going to be tricky but not impossible however between the inevitable sales and the parachute payments there should be a sufficent budget to achieve it and a lot more money than most Championship clubs.

The alternative scenario of promotion with this squad might be as much of a challenge. Obviously the club benefits from the Premier League money which could help secure some of the loanees and retain some of the players we would otherwise sell but we could quite easily double the wage bill without any real improvement to the squad.



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Offline paulosull

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #52 on: February 13, 2019, 12:55:55 AM »
Striking the balance between stripping the squad down but at the same time ensuring it is competitive next year is going to be tricky but not impossible however between the inevitable sales and the parachute payments there should be a sufficent budget to achieve it and a lot more money than most Championship clubs.

The alternative scenario of promotion with this squad might be as much of a challenge. Obviously the club benefits from the Premier League money which could help secure some of the loanees and retain some of the players we would otherwise sell but we could quite easily double the wage bill without any real improvement to the squad.
think no matter what league we are in squad needs to be broken up too many players who think just because someone was foolish enough to pay them Premier league salaries that there Premier league footballers.

Offline TheJacko2000

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #53 on: February 13, 2019, 12:58:12 AM »
It would almost be worth the pain of not going up if it means Jake Livermore leaves the club.
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Offline beechyboy90

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #54 on: February 13, 2019, 04:50:08 AM »
It would almost be worth the pain of not going up if it means Jake Livermore leaves the club.

If anybody stupid enough to take him off our hands. If we get Harper tied down for next year I would be happy with him and field being our cm and building from there
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Offline mikehy

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #55 on: February 13, 2019, 06:30:13 AM »
Can we change the name of this thread to when we do not go up? No chance of the top 2 with our home form and would not fancy us in the play offs against more experienced managers like Pulis, Wilder etc.

Offline ex coseley kid

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #56 on: February 13, 2019, 09:54:18 AM »
Can we change the name of this thread to when we do not go up? No chance of the top 2 with our home form and would not fancy us in the play offs against more experienced managers like Pulis, Wilder etc.

For me that sealed it last night. I'd be amazed if we made the playoffs and indeed succeeded in winning them. Work to be done we are just naive defensively and lessons are not being learned week in, month out...
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Offline OldburyWBA

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #57 on: February 13, 2019, 02:14:40 PM »
For me that sealed it last night. I'd be amazed if we made the playoffs and indeed succeeded in winning them. Work to be done we are just naive defensively and lessons are not being learned week in, month out...

Said at the start we will scrape play offs, nothing has changed for me, can't see us getting top two. If we get through to a play off final with a big pitch at Wembley then maybe it would suit us.
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Offline beechyboy90

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #58 on: February 13, 2019, 07:38:37 PM »
Said at the start we will scrape play offs, nothing has changed for me, can't see us getting top two. If we get through to a play off final with a big pitch at Wembley then maybe it would suit us.

I don't want to see us bottle another playoff final, that derby game still makes me feel physically sick.

if we failed to get up we would have one hell of an overhaul. gibbs hegazi dawson we would be losing surely. Probably Rodriguez & Livermore (wouldn't be as concerned if either of these left).

we have 2 keepers. we would need a whole new front line. I doubt we could convince gayle to stay on the money we would be able to afford for championship.
whilst I would be happy starting with a field harper axis and even having leko Edwards being more involved and we might see Fitzwater. it would need some work
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Offline elkiellis

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #59 on: February 13, 2019, 11:09:59 PM »
and we finish in play offs,Dave deserves another chance but only just as in my opinion any tactically astute manager would run away with the league with this lot,just look at our home record ,if we finish outside playoffs he has to go,as he does not have the faith in the younger players,that we are going to need nor does he appear to have the tactically nous and I am not sure what goes on in training,re passing etc

Offline Standaman

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #60 on: February 14, 2019, 02:19:47 AM »
If we don't go up on the back of a series of performances like last night I think the assumption that there would be a mass exodus of the old guard might need to be revisited because I doubt whether any Premier League club would be interested in them.

Although I am never surprised at how inept and poorly researched football recruitment can be. I would go out on a limb and say not a single one of our players would be a good buy for a Premier League club particularly when you factor in their likely wage demands and the fees we would be looking for. 
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 06:19:25 AM by Standaman »
Standaman - Born to be a Baggie.

Online overseas baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #61 on: February 14, 2019, 06:38:34 AM »
If we don't go up on the back of a series of performances like last night I think the assumption that there would be a mass exodus of the old guard might need to be revisited because I doubt whether any Premier League club would be interested in them.

Although I am never surprised at how inept and poorly researched football recruitment can be. I would go out on a limb and say not a single one of our players would be a good buy for a Premier League club particularly when you factor in their likely wage demands and the fees we would be looking for.

Gibbs would probably be a worthy buy. And Rondon.

Harper would be a bargain as a free as we still haven’t signed him up....

Offline mulliganstired

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #62 on: February 14, 2019, 09:31:38 AM »
Starting to feel like the Mowbray playoff season, we just can't string decent results together

Offline seteefeet

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #63 on: February 14, 2019, 11:24:18 AM »
Starting to feel like the Mowbray playoff season, we just can't string decent results together
Of the top 10, only Norwich (10 points) and Bristol City (an incredible 15 points, still below us though) have a better points total over the last 5 games.
Yes results could be better but we are more than holding our own.

Offline Albionic

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #64 on: February 14, 2019, 12:32:27 PM »
Of the top 10, only Norwich (10 points) and Bristol City (an incredible 15 points, still below us though) have a better points total over the last 5 games.
Yes results could be better but we are more than holding our own.

its remarkable that we are maintaining our position while not performing well, Is this a measure of the quality in the league ??
Lovin the championship, just lovin it !

Offline SmethDan

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #65 on: February 14, 2019, 12:40:32 PM »
its remarkable that we are maintaining our position while not performing well, Is this a measure of the quality in the league ??

Given that Boro' are only three points behind us I'd say it very well could be.
It doesn't matter how many resources you have.
If you don't know how to use them, they will never be enough.
Oh, and always remember to defecate on those Vile chaps in claret and spew.

Offline seteefeet

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #66 on: February 14, 2019, 01:11:32 PM »
its remarkable that we are maintaining our position while not performing well, Is this a measure of the quality in the league ??
Regardless of quality, the league is just more competitive. Of the total points available in the Prem, to date, 21% have been won by the top 6, compared to just 15% in the Champ.

Offline Albionic

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #67 on: February 14, 2019, 01:21:58 PM »
Regardless of quality, the league is just more competitive. Of the total points available in the Prem, to date, 21% have been won by the top 6, compared to just 15% in the Champ.

Good stat !   very illuminating that is.
That said more clubs in chumps to share the points between, would surely dilute that number.
Lovin the championship, just lovin it !

Offline seteefeet

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #68 on: February 14, 2019, 01:30:35 PM »
Good stat !   very illuminating that is.
That said more clubs in chumps to share the points between, would surely dilute that number.
Fair point. If you go down to 7th in Champ, still only 17% though.

Offline Hunnington Baggie

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #69 on: February 14, 2019, 01:38:17 PM »
Given that Boro' are only three points behind us I'd say it very well could be.
we know that Tony’s system works, when he can be bothered to make it work.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 05:25:54 PM by OldburyWBA »

Offline SmethDan

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #70 on: February 14, 2019, 01:46:19 PM »
we know that Tony’s system works, when he can be bothered to make it work.

Yep, feel the points never mind the quality.
« Last Edit: February 14, 2019, 05:26:04 PM by OldburyWBA »
It doesn't matter how many resources you have.
If you don't know how to use them, they will never be enough.
Oh, and always remember to defecate on those Vile chaps in claret and spew.

Offline chipperclark

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #71 on: February 14, 2019, 11:34:32 PM »
 >:( Wouldnt mind the Play off final, at this point, cannot see a top 2 for us. May be rather ironic we play Derby or Boro at Wembley....sods law says it will be one of these 2 ??

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Re: If we don’t go up
« Reply #72 on: February 15, 2019, 05:22:15 AM »
It’s still wide open.  For example Leeds have got to play Bristol City and Sheffield United just before they play us.  Any of the top 7 putting a decent run together between now and May can make the automatics.