Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe Championship play-off race: Who will clinch their place? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The Championship play-off race: Who will clinch their place? - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The Championship play-off race: Who will clinch their place?

On the eve of March, it’s now time to hear that clichéd phrase ‘Squeaky Bum Time’. The Football League tables are starting to take shape and gaps between promotion places and relegation slots are substantially forming. The Championship, however, is living up to its ‘unpredictable’ reputation. The potential candidates for play-off places could realistically be anybody between Watford in 2nd place and anywhere down to as low as Bolton in 11th place.

A brief look at the candidates:

Watford, 62 Points: Gianfranco Zola’s Watford have been in great form this season, winning 19 out of a possible 34. Watford with their impressive loan signings from abroad, and in particular Udinese and Granada, will be looking to stay in their current position in 2nd and with the impressive Matej Vydra on their books, they have every chance of doing so.

Hull, 62 Points: Hull, like Watford, sit on 62 points and are only in 3rd place by goal difference. They too have won 19 out of a possible 34 and will be looking to snatch the last automatic place up, but may have to settle for a play-off place.

Crystal Palace, 58 Points: 4 points lower sit Crystal Palace, who themselves will feel they have a good chance of securing an automatic place. Palace boast the top scorer in England Glenn Murray, who has 28 goals in 32 appearances for the Eagles and the loaned-back Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha. The Eagles’ away form has dipped somewhat lately, not winning an away game this year. A play-off place looks certain for Palace but automatic looking a step too far.

Leicester, 57 Points: Unlike the previous 3 teams, Leicester have played a game less. Although Leicester had been somewhat off-form until their impressive 3-0 home win against Blackburn, they are nicely placed with their game in hand to make a push for the last automatic place, if not, almost certain to make a play-off place.

Brighton, 52 Points: Brighton, who hold the last play-off place in 6th, have been in good form lately. The wins against top placed Cardiff away and Hull stand out. Like Leicester, the Seagulls also have a game in hand on the rest of the hunting pack, although opening up a gap between the teams below Brighton will be their priority. Brighton can be a bit inconsistent and like to draw games, but at this stage of the season wins will be needed. ‘The Spanish contingent’ including former Valencia star, Vicente, certainly have enough quality about them to get positive results. The game in hand may be key to opening up a bigger gap between themselves and the play-off chasers below.

Middlesbrough, 51 Points: Middlesbrough dropped out of the play-off places after their home defeat to Millwall, on Saturday evening. Although Middlesbrough only sit a point below Brighton in 6th, they have only won 1 in their last 9 games in the league and will have to significantly up their form to clinch a play-off place.

Nottingham Forest, 48 Points: Forest have quietly gone about their business and have snuck up to 8th place.  They have in my view one of the best squads in the championship with a good selection of prolific strikers to choose from and the ever-impressive Radoslaw Majewski. With a slight rise in form for Forest and a manager, in Billy Davies, who has a habit of achieving play-off cementation with clubs he has managed, Forest may feel they can sneak into the play-off mix.

Dark Horse – Bolton: From the remainder of the play-off chasers, I have selected Bolton as the team who can continue the good form they have shown of late and knock on the play-offs door. Although they are 7 points off Brighton in 6th place, the Trotters are unbeaten in 5 games and with Dougie Freedman at the helm, who I regard as a top manager and a squad which boasts Premier League quality all over, Bolton may yet have a say on the play-off mix up.