Sheffield Wednesday: Play-off veteran Humphreys says form doesn’t count

Ritchie Humphreys (right)
Ritchie Humphreys (right)
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Does form matter heading into the Play-Offs?

How important is momentum? Do teams need to be full of confidence and belief heading into the end of season knock-out shootout?

Wednesday old boy Ritchie Humphreys believes it doesn’t matter whether you limp over the line or finish the regular season with a flourish.

“You would, of course, like to go into them in good form, but it is not necessarily the team who finishes third who goes up,” said Chesterfield’s development coach. “It just comes down to who performs the best in the games, which are almost like cup finals.”

History is stacked against the Owls. Since the end-of-season shootout was introduced in the 1988/89 campaign, the team which has finished third in the second-tier has gained promotion 10 times via the Play-Offs, representing a 37 per cent success rate.

The sides who have ended up fifth have emerged victorious 26 per cent of the time while fourth and sixth have each triumphed on five occasions, meaning they have prevailed 18.50 per cent of the time.

The Play-Offs can be a cruel, unpredictable format, but Humphreys loves them.

“I have been in a few Play-Off campaigns and they are tremendous things to be part of,” said Humphreys, who made 82 appearances in all competition for the Owls. “I’m a big fan of them.

“Even if you don’t have a great first half to the season, you can still make a charge in there and end up with an appearance at Wembley or get promoted at the end of it.

“I played in the Play-Offs last year with Chesterfield and 11 years ago for Hartlepool against Wednesday at Cardiff. That final for Hartlepool was my 60th game of the season. It is a long season physically and the demands of the game are even greater now. Everyone in the squad will be important.

“The build-up to the games are incredible and, as we know, there is so much at stake in the Championship Play-Off Final.”

n Championship Play-Off promotion winners - Third place: Ten promotions (37 per cent); Fifth place: Seven (26); Fourth place: Five (18.50); Sixth place: Five (18.50)