Hatters Health Check: Can we seriously chase play-offs following Burnley loss?
We're nearly in March. We currently sit in fourth place, and with just fourteen games to go Luton Town look in good shape. But with only one win in the last five, including the embarrasing 3-0 defeat away to Grimsby in the FA Cup Fourth Round Replay, we need to step back a moment, especially considering that Blackburn, Millwall, Norwich and Sunderland play tonight, and are all directly beneath us in the Championship table. Are we seriously going for the play-offs again this year?
Let's compare our current form to our memorable run last year. Kal Naismith's phenomenal strike to beat Bournemouth in January was the spark that led to our charge to the top six. We went on to get results against Swansea, West Brom, Nottingham Forest and Cardiff, securing our play-off berth with the 1-0 win at home against Reading thanks to Harry Cornick's quick thinking.
This time round, whilst we were somewhat unfortunate to lose to Vincent Kompany's Clarets, we still have to play the likes of Millwall, Sheffield United, Middlesbrough and the scum from down the road. While we currently hold a game in hand over the clubs around us, a run of wins for Rob Edwards will certainly put us in a good position. Five points currently separate the Hatters in fourth and Coventry in 11th place, with a gap ahead of us to Middlesbrough, Sheffield United and Burnley.
But would missing out on the play-offs this season be such a bad thing? Considering we lost Nathan Jones in December, including a wave of changes on the pitch, we have still fared well this season. Missing out will still allow Edwards and his team to continue to restructure the squad ahead of next season, which may see us go one further and look to go up automatically to the promised land. Personally, I'm sitting on the fence. Although we lost convincingly against Huddersfield in the Play-off semi final, it gave us the experience of being in that position for the very first time, especially as the firm underdogs. The more times we continue to push for results to climb up the table, the more credible the club becomes in being challengers for promotion to the Premier League, especially in a pre-Power Court era. But missing out and allowing the rebuild to continue is a healthy change after six consistently strong years accumulatively under Nathan Jones and his backroom team.
One things for sure: we are Luton Town. We are competing with Premier League quality with the fraction of the budgets. We are continuing to hold our own and prove the doubters wrong, and Twitter that #TeamsLikeLuton is more than just a trend. This is form that we have missed for nearly twenty years. I'm here for the ride, and backing this team all the way.