“WHAT’S it going to be, then?”
It’s a question that I’ve been asked by Wednesdayites more and more often, and I don’t have to reply: “What do you mean?”
Play-offs or automatic promotion? That is the question.
Well, I don’t claim to be a genius when I say that United have to be fancied to take second place at the moment because they have a two-point lead and a goal-difference advantage of 11.
It has been handy for them to have a striker who has scored 34 goals, and they have shown form and character after picking up the gauntlet whenever it has been thrown down by the Owls over these last three games.
But that is not to say that they will not slip up over the final four and Wednesday cannot overtake them again.
Both clubs have been facing and will continue to face a test of nerve.
Wednesday passed a big test with flying colours at Huddersfield, and it has underlined the strength of their challenge. They pressured United by winning their early kick-off games against Preston, Huddersfield and Oldham; but the Blades beat Hartlepool, Bournemouth and Rochdale.
It was no surprise to me that United enjoyed a six-point Easter against the Cherries and Dale.
After seeing the way Wednesday won at Leyton Orient three weeks ago, it is logical to expect a Bramall Lane defeat for the O’s.
Knowledge that United are at home to a side who are fourth from bottom and have lost their last four games puts the pressure on the Owls tomorrow, in a way.
They will know that the Blades could well win again. If that happens and Wednesday were to lose, then the Owls would be five points behind with only three games left, and they would be really up against it.
You could say that if results go with the form book then both Sheffield clubs will win, for Colchester have not won for nine games.
At the Weston Homes Community Stadium, the U’s do not score many but they do not concede many either, and that recent run includes 1-1 draws with United, Huddersfield, Carlisle and Hartlepool.
Trying to work out whether one team’s run-in is easier or harder than another’s is an uncertain business, because surprise results can never be ruled out.
Hardly anyone will have expected Wigan to beat Manchester United, but I was not one of those saying the title race was all over, when there were six games left and the Manchester clubs have to play each other.
I would not like to predict the outcome of all four of Wednesday’s games - Colchester away, Carlisle at home, Brentford away and Wycombe at home - or United’s: Leyton Orient at home, MK Dons away, Stevenage at home and Exeter away.
I’d be more confident in saying Charlton will win the title, though I realise that is hardly profound insight.
The major wobble for which the Addicks’ rivals hoped has never really happened, and they remain six and eight points clear of United and Wednesday respectively. For the record, their run-in is Carlisle away, Wycombe at home, Preston away and Hartlepool at home.