The future's bright, the future is still Lilywhite

What's that now? 68 games away from home against top 4 sides leaving us with a bitter taste of regret in mouth? Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I'm thinking I should embrace the fact that Wilson has not been great this season and we should have shown balls and kept the same line-up without having to shuffle players for the sake of over-cleverness. Even though I did think we'd be 'ok' if we did just that.

BAE at right-back, uncomfortable and out of sorts. Bale at left-back, almost felt like he'd been gagged and tied to a chair. Safe to say that Hudd/Moddle in the middle with BAE left-back and Bale left-wing should be our line-up for the remaining games. But don't fret, I'm not about to knee-jerk. We got it wrong. But take away two stupid clumsy defending errors (the two pens) and the roll-out of the red carpet for Nani (three errors then) and things might have been different. Even with the changes in line-up.

Though I still feel we didn't show half as much guile as we should of. Not disgraced, but all a bit of a limp effort in the end. We didn't give the occasion the swagger it deserved. But then it was by no means looking (from either side) to shape up into the classic game most (wanted) expected. On the bright side, Azza is back amongst us. King is a frigging freak of nature. And Bale is best played offensively.

We should have played football, taken the game to them. To dare is to f*cking do, right? I cited state of mind in my match preview. But perspective please. It was United. Perhaps not a storming version of Ferguson's men what with Rooney up in a box, but if you're going to make mistakes, you don't make them in their patch - especially when they have a title at stake.

So, six points from nine then? You simply cannot be disappointed with that, considering that few expected us to win even one of the three, let alone two of them. Makes you think that before we entered the month of April, only the insane (me) would have stated 'we will finish 4th' - considering our fixture list compared to others.

City drew at the Emirates (Zzzzz). Villa and Liverpool both won. This chase for fourth spot continues to twist and turn. Although nothing much has changed this past weekend other than the important footnote for all sides involved; that one more defeat will spell the end.

City v Villa will be the one to watch as it will no doubt shape the tension for our visit there. We first need to avoid the banana skin of complacency when Bolton visit the Lane.

So what next?

Spurs - Bolton home, City away, Burnley away
Villa - City away, Blackburn home
City - Villa home, Spurs home, West Ham away
Liverpool - Chelsea home, Hull away

Spurs 35 played, 64 points - 3 games max 9 points - 73 pts max
Villa 36 played, 64 points - 2 games max 6 points - 70 pts max
City 35 played, 63 points - 3 games max 9 points - 72 pts max
Liverpool 36 played, 62 points - 2 games max 6 points - 68 pts max

We may have failed to conquer our Old Trafford demons, but redemption awaits. It's in our hands. We have shown grit and heart and style through-out the season to continually remain up top in the mix. With every hiccup, we down a glass of cold water, and crow.

Bolton (H) - We need to be professional. Focused. The Lane has to rock in the same manner it did against the red and blue scum. We simply have to dismantle them and apply the pressure on the other contenders. As noted, pick up and bin that banana skin.

City (A) - Cup final day. The £30M+ game. Potentially. The irony that things might work out that City have to win at West Ham on the final day of the season to finish 4th is tinged with the type of irony that would see a new statue built outside Upton Park to commemorate the occasion. Tevez scoring the winner would have the home support cheering louder than the travelling City fans. And then there's the irony of us playing away to Burnley (same colours as WH). Shades of 2006 all over again. If City and Villa score-draw (if if if), a win at City's patch and it's done and dusted (as long as another 3 points is collected).

Burnley (A) - Relegated. If we failed to win here (no disrespect to their club and fans) we don't deserve to finish 4th.

So all this is easily simplified... Just beat Bolton and City and it wouldn't matter what the other sides do, it wouldn't be enough for them.

So all you crazies, keep the faith.

And keep on believing.