Season run-ins have not been a Addicks speciality in recent years. Apart from the epic Lennie escape act in 1987 and the Curbs-lead charges in both 1998 and 2000 its all been pretty desperate stuff. And everyone can remember the fear that seemed to affect everyone during the Curbishley years as soon as March arrived.
But this is 2012 and with March dawning we can't let the current situation go un-noticed or uncelebrated, even if there are still 13 games left to play. We are top of the Division with 75 points from 33 games, an average of 2.27 per game. There's a gap of 13 massive points before second placed Sheffield United appear on the horizon while the team in 3rd, Wednesday, are 15 points behind us. We have an enormous goal difference of plus 40 (forty), 11 more than the next best, Huddersfield. We have scored the most goals, 63, and conceded the least with 23. We have the most wins, 22 and the fewest defeats, 2, in the Division.
We have the most clean sheets with 14 out of 33 games and the fewest no-score games with just 2. While we have easily the best away record with our Addicks record equalling 12 wins, we don't have the best Home Record on points with both Sheffield clubs winning more games at home than we have, and with United winning more home points but both have lost twice at home whereas, of course, we haven't, so I personally prefer our record to theirs.
But are we chanting victory too early? There's still 13 games and 39 points to play for and who knows? They may talk of Champions Elect but this is the Addicks we are talking about and we will always fear the worst. So lets try to reassure ourselves a bit. Automatic promotion is clearly the number one target for everyone. Let's get out of this poxy place, three years is quite long enough. Huddersfield Town are currently our nearest challengers that can deny us that goal. They are currently 4th but have a game in hand on Wednesday in 3rd and are only 1 point behind them so their maximum points haul is greater than the Massives. Huddersfield currently have 59 points from 32 games, 16 points behind us.
Looking at the current form table over the last 8 games, they are notching an average of 1.87 points per game. But new manager Simon Grayson has had a win and a draw in his two games in charge so is currently achieving 2 points per game. So what exactly am I getting at? Well, if Huddersfield continue on 2 points per game over their remaining 14 games they will reach the heady total of 87 points for the season. So for me that's our target, just 12 more points, 4 more wins to ensure the goal of Automatic Promotion.
The month of March brings us: Bournemouth (A), Colchester (H), Notts County (H), Scunthorpe (A), Yeovil (H), Huddersfield (A) and Orient (H). Of course, we still can't celebrate even when we reach 87 points because its just possible that Huddersfield, or even Wednesday, could go berserk and win every game they have left. After their game against the Addicks, Huddersfield have only 8 games remaining so even then, on March 24th, we would need a gap of 24 points to be certain of an automatic spot.
So maybe that should really be our aim - forget the 87 points total but increase the gap over Huddersfield in the next 5 games from 16 to 24 and a trip to Huddersfield to win the point that would ensure promotion on the ground of our nearest challengers. But that's a tough call for even if we win all 5, 15 points, Huddersfield would need to get only 7 for us to be 24 in front come March 24th. And Huddersfield's next 5 games all look winnable with home games against Hartlepool and Rochdale and away against Bury, Colchester and Chesterfield especially when you see their recent record of only 1 defeat in their last 12. One thing working against the Terriers can be understood when you look at one of the few tables that we are not top of; the score first table. Only Huddersfield have scored first in games more times than we have, their 24 to our 23 but a more damning statistic could not be brought up in front of Lee Clark for whereas the Addicks have won no less than 20 of our 23 games having scored first, the Terriers have only won 14 and drawn 10.
So all in all we may have to win at the Galpharm to force the issue and reach that 24 point gap and here we come to another happy statistic. Not only have we already beaten Huddersfield 2-0 at the valley, ending their record breaking run, but the Addicks are currently the best, the very best, in games against the top half of the table in League One. An amazing 13 wins in 16 games, an astonishing 41 points against the cream, with 30 goals scored and only 5 conceded and the only blot being that defeat at Stevenage on October 15th.
And if we can win all the next 5 and Huddersfield kept to their 2 points per game we'll be 21points in front when we play them and a win there on March 24th will move us to the magic 24 with them only having 8 games left and leave Promotion almost assured.
Ah, but wait a minute - you clearly haven't noticed ( points out my brother, Hardy ) that only 2 of our next 5 opponents are in the top half of the table.........
Once an Addick, always an Addick.......