MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: County fans should not get despondent - promotion is still a real possibility
7:19am Tuesday 18th February 2014 in Sport
NEWPORT County aren't in crisis, they can get promoted this season and there is no cause for doom and gloom merchants to be spewing negativity all over the internet.
However, perhaps I should clarify that none of the above is fact. It's conjecture. Opinion, in this instance that of myself, my genuine thoughts ahead of a thrilling League Two run-in that I'm very, very excited about.
Show me a football writer who wouldn't be excited to have almost a 75% ratio of home games remaining and I'll show you a liar, fun as these 600 mile round-trips in the car are.
But it is my belief that Newport can still reach the top seven that gives me the most cause for excitement.
However, I will not, much to the chagrin of those who apparently want to paint me as a borderline lunatic who never sees the negative in the County - despite criticising them only seven days ago - be having a go at those who currently only see doom and gloom.
Frankly, away from the day job of covering the County, I am you.
When it comes to my own club, I'm as pessimistic as the next person.
Expecting the worst is my default setting. As if I've watched in person six successive FA Cup semi final defeats, seen my club get the most Premier League points ever and not qualify for CL (last season, 72), and seen my team finish in the top four and still end up playing FC Youhaveneverheardofus on Thursday night's at 11pm on ITV7.
But success and failure is all relative isn't it?
For those of you who support County only, even a single season in the Premier League, even if you didn't win a point, would be manna from heaven. Ditto an FA Cup semi final. To a Wrexham fan, Newport's current 'crisis' would be most welcome indeed. Whisper it very quietly, but many clubs would also love Newport's current problems at Rodney Parade.... Coventry City for one.
So I'm loathed to hammer Newport fans in the pit of despair because they think the season has stalled to the point that County's promotion bid is doomed. Like I say, when it comes to my club, I am you. Because frankly, it is the hope that kills you.
However, your stance isn't warranted and hopefully I can convince you of that here and now.
Let's deal with the numbers.
Newport County have accrued 39 points in 27 games. They have 19 games left to play, six of which, SIX! are away. They have 13 more home clashes. Thirteen might be unlucky for some, but it's a delicious statistic for the Exiles who are much better at home.
County have played the fewest home games in the division - by a distance - but only three teams have won more at their own grounds. Only Rochdale have a greater win percentage at home.
However, I know the easy counter argument to this. Newport County have left themselves too much to do.... But the statistics don't back that up.
In the past ten season, no team has needed more than 74 points to reach the playoffs. In 2007/8 seventh placed Wycombe got a whopping 78 points, but 71 would've achieved the same thing. And since then, no team has needed more than 72 points. Lincoln (2005/6, 66), Shrewsbury (2008/9 69), Torquay (2010/11 68) and Bradford last term (69) all didn't even bother reaching the magic marker of 70 points and still finished seventh.
So let's be pessimistic and state Newport will be unlucky on the past ten years and need more. Let's set the target at 75 points for the play-offs. A margin to satisfy those whose glass is always half empty.
So 12 wins from the remaining 19 games. Maybe nine or ten wins and a couple of draws would be enough.
In other words, County ONLY have to match their home form so far this season and they'll make the playoffs. According to Maths. Even if they lose all their remaining away games, which I don't think they will, they could make the playoffs by winning a dozen home games - 10 could be enough. Two away wins from six games and they'd only need 9 or 10 home triumphs. Seven or eight away points and the margin for error at home increases further.
Why am I so fussed about trying to convert those who have given up on County's promotion prospects? Because I honestly believe you are the ones who can make or break the season.
Put simply, this is the time to become Millwall and pull together in a 'no one likes us and we don't care' sense.
People are laughing about Newport's run of postponements. Gateshead fans are loving it. And lord knows, we could still be playing the Gatesheads and the Eastleighs of this world if it wasn't for the current regime at Rodney Parade.
But at the same time, no one is looking forward to their trip to Newport. None of the 13 sides still to visit this term are excited to play on that pitch in front of 3,000+ who are so close to the action and such a vocal, passionate bunch.
Rodney Parade is built for noise. Ask any regional rugby fan where the best atmosphere is under the lights with a full house and they'll tell you the same thing; Newport.
Newport County have earned this thrilling run-in when consolidation would've been enough for all of us and despite the recent blip, magnified as it is by a lack of games, there is cause for optimism.
Nearly everyone fit. County's fate is to be decided almost exclusively at home where the snarl from the Amber Army can help to win a game before it even starts.
You can make the difference. So please, don't give up.
Believe County can still get promoted. Because with your help, they very well might.