In just over six days time the drama, nerves and chaos of the playoff final will be over along with the season.
The prize of Premier League football is becoming increasingly important both on and off the pitch and the margins of the playoff final will determine a cavern in terms of the outcomes of both Aston Villa and Fulham.
Steve Bruce faces a difficult task in taking on a Fulham side that have amassed 17 wins in their 23 games since the turn of the year, losing only twice.
Manager Slavisa Jokanovic has built an impressive side, capable of turning on attacking football instantly and players of the likes of Aleksandar Mitrovic and Ryan Sessegnon have caught the eye of many a football fan with their individual performances.
In the first of the many countdowns this week I’m looking at the reasons to be optimistic and why the current bookies odds may be slightly harsh.
Firstly, Fulham’s two defeats in 2018 have come in their last two games away from Craven Cottage.
Defeats at Birmingham when they had an opportunity to push for automatic promotion and at Derby in the first leg of the playoff semi-final have shown that Fulham can be got at and also the question is how do they respond to pressure away from home?
Secondly, although it must said that Fulham have vastly improved since we played them at home, we have beaten them this season and in the return fixture we looked pretty solid until a disappointing second half saw us eventually lose 2-0.
Fantastic performances against Wolverhampton Wanderers (4-1), Bristol City (5-0) have shown the capability of the team when they click. Further big wins away from Villa Park such as Sheffield Wednesday (2-4) and Ipswich (0-4) have reinforced the ability to score within the side.
The recent form of the likes of Mile Jedinak, John Terry and James Chester, all seasoned professionals have given the team an experienced head on top of shoulders heaped with pressure and expectancy.
There is also the question of how Fulham play on bigger pitches, which Wembley certainly is. I don’t know how I feel about that judging their record this calendar year but possibly there is some substance in those defeats of late.
The side have a real togetherness, something the club has crucially lacked in recent years and Steve Bruce has been here before, masterminding playoff wins in the past. In what has been a truly horrific year for him personally, his commitment to the cause and constant presence shows how much he wants to succeed and I truly believe the players think the world of him too.
The likes of Terry, would they have joined had the manager been of a less experienced nature?
It’s going to be a long week of waiting, questioning, dreaming and hoping but I’ve been there before against Manchester United and more recently against Liverpool and we were underdogs then. It can be done and it will take everything from everyone on and off the pitch to achieve the dream of promotion.