The open-top bus tours are probably already arranged and no doubt Elton John and Harry Redknapp are booked to join in with the bunting hanging and champagne popping.
Before the top two is a giant chasm on whose other side lie the Premier League’s giants and not-so-giants. But right now Watford and Bournemouth fans could not give a gnat’s chuff about that, and rightly so.
Personally, I think it’s sad that the first ‘English’ Championship team to cross the line are owned by Italians, managed by a Serb – their fourth manager of the season – and whose playing squad has just a 25 per cent British feel to it. And that figure is only likely to drop as they attempt to strengthen for the bigger challenges to come.
While Bournemouth do have a Russian pulling their financial strings, their structure and story – certainly compared to Watford’s – is much more admirable and ‘Roy of the Rovers’ in style. Consequently I genuinely wish them good luck and best wishes.
Behind them lie City plus six others – all left in limbo. All still in with a sniff of promotion and desperate to join them on their journey to the big boys’ league.
The disappointing draw at Rotherham summed up in the proverbial nutshell why we are play-off bound and not preparing to beat off a bunch of Cottagers in a ‘promotion already-wrapped-up’ style celebration.
Despite being down to ten men early doors, we got our noses in front but couldn’t hang on against a team fighting tooth and claw – or headlock and grapple to be more accurate – at the bottom end of the table.
The nutshell is that we’ve dropped way too many points to bottom-half teams. The list is a long one and we all know the details.
Therein lies a Championship lesson that Watford can provide: be ruthless with the minnows and you give yourself a strong chance of promotion.
From Watford’s 88 points, 68 were accrued from the sides below tenth place. City have taken just 50 points from those same sides. That’s a huge difference.
Similarly for goals scored. Watford’s 90 goal haul is made up of 69 against teams placed 11th to 24th. Norwich have found the back of the net just 55 times against those sides.
Conversely, of course, is the comparison of results against the other sides who have been battling at the top end – first to tenth. The Canaries are perched on top in that mini-table with ten wins, three draws and five defeats out of the eighteen games. That’s 33 points out of 54 from the other nine top-ten sides.
Watford? They sit in eighth place with just 20 points out of 54. That too is a huge difference. Similarly Bournemouth, with Charlton still to play, have taken only 25 from 51 points – and are sixth in the mini-league – but have cracked in 73 out of their 95 goals against the Championship’s ‘also-rans’.
So both promoted sides have turned it on against the lesser sides but, more often than not, have been found wanting against the better sides. City, of course, didn’t lose to either.
So, how does that bode for their survival chances next season?
Well, Leicester and Burnley cruised it last season in the Championship but have had a torrid time in the Premier League’s bottom three this time round after not making too many squad additions.
In 2013/14, Leicester took 28 points from a possible 54 from the top ten and a whopping 74 from the rest, while Burnley took just 26; both more than Bournemouth and certainly Watford. Surely a bad omen for their chances next season?
In 2010/11, Norwich got 35 points against fellow top ten teams and went on to comfortably cope with the bigger clubs in the top division.
My theory therefore is that if you can’t break the 30 point barrier from the best teams in the Championship but still get promoted, you’re going to have one hell of a struggle unless you can buy in real quality or experience, or both.
And that all puts us in a good place if we can negotiate the minefield of the play-offs and strengthen wisely.
As Fulham prepare to head to Norfolk on the back of a spirit-raising win over Middlesbrough, good luck to the Hornets and the Cherries next season, the sting in the tale being that I fear for their chances of survival despite the bullish comments of respective chairmen and managers.
I reckon ‘Ol Reg Dwight will be back at his LA poolside while his beloved team’s chances flicker and fade like a candle in a hurricane-force wind.
Not sure Bournemouth have any celebrity fans – apart from one or two ex-managers – but expect some B-list pop and soap stars to pop up and pledge lifelong allegiance now they are in the big time.
Despite all the ‘what ifs’ that spring to mind for our team from a bruising campaign – the tightest and toughest ever – with more ups and downs than a hyperactive yoyo, the play-offs are not such a bad place to end up.
It all makes for an exciting if nerve-shredding extra time, add-on feature in which we’ll have a fighting chance of emerging with smiling faces, and are better equipped than others for a first season back where we belong.