It appears a matter of when, not if, Albion rightfully claim their place in the Premier League, with favourable results leaving us so close to a promotion that has been five years in the making. The hardly-fought 2-1 win at QPR on Friday night certainly illustrated the fighting spirit and desire to make it over the finish line, but while Sebastian Pocognoli’s sublime freekick was a moment to savour, picking up the three points was the best thing to take away from Loftus Road. When you consider that Newcastle, Huddersfield and Reading all lost, we are in a wonderful position to not only claim automatic promotion, but also win a title that would be richly deserved after all the hard work that has been put in to make Albion a Premier League club.
We can only be grateful for the teams behind us dropping points as another play-off clash would be too much for fans to handle, even if the win against Birmingham secured our place in the top six. Albion have to keep picking up the results that make automatic promotion a mathematic certainty, as complacency at such a crucial stage of the season is simply not an option. Five wins from our last six games would certainly indicate that Chris Hughton has the team firmly focused on the task in hand, and with Albion holding a twelve point lead over third-placed Huddersfield with just five games to go, it may take just one or two more wins to finally reach the promised land. Bookmaker Ratings believe that we have every chance of beating Newcastle to the title, and while there may be some fans out there who would settle for second after the heartache of 2013, 2014 and 2016, Albion have a fantastic opportunity to bring the trophy back to the Amex.
Being so close to the Premier League has created real excitement throughout the club and the fanbase, with promotion likely to do wonders for the local economy. Tony Bloom has been instrumental in creating an infrastructure that has not only taken Albion to another level that is far and beyond the days of struggling in the lower leagues, but also improves our chances of progressing at a higher level. His ambition to turn Albion into a Premier League club is so close to becoming a reality; Hughton also has to take considerable credit for what he has done since taking over from what was a precarious position during the 2014/2015 campaign in which Sami Hyypia almost destroyed us, with his ability to get the very best from the players reaping dividends. Although the champagne remains on ice for the time being, you can almost sense the sheer relief and delight that will greet the team when they finally get over the line and make their considerable advantage at the top count.
Newcastle cannot keep leaving the door open for Albion to take advantage and pip them to the title, and with just five games to go, their latest slip-up could prove to be the most costly. We have to take the bull by the horns and run away with the Championship, but the only way this will happen is if Albion extend their strong run of form and do not trip over themselves when it really matters. This will not be easy, given we are well aware that there are no easy games in this league, with three of our five remaining opponents fighting for their lives at the wrong end at the table and need the points as much as we do. Punters may back Albion to come out on top in our upcoming trip to Wolves on any free tipster contest listed on Bookmaker Ratings, but it will only be a Good Friday if we pick up three points and start the Easter weekend on a high. It could be the result that secures promotion if Huddersfield, Reading and Leeds fail to win, and with Albion set to face Wigan, Norwich, Bristol City and Aston Villa, the euphoria of securing Premier League football next season could be accompanied by the Championship title.