No team has a divine right to win a competition and in most cases, only sheer arrogance would bring a supporter to believe so. What is clear is the likelihood of certain clubs winning, especially in League championships, including Celtic here in Scotland. While a one-off Cup exit is always possible, the quality and depth of Celtic's squad and their financial advantage over their rivals would make it almost impossible for them not to win the Premiership this season.
Not so in the Championship, which was set to become the most open for several seasons, with previous winners Hearts, Hibs and Rangers back in the top flight, leaving a more even collection of clubs to challenge for the title. Dunfermline topped the table in the opening quarter but have fallen away drastically, now occupying fifth place and with clubs circling round us. Seventh - or heaven forbid, eighth (meaning Falkirk overtaking us) place is a distinct possibility. There was certainly no divine right to expect the Pars to win this division but the lack of any sustained challenge, which included a period of one win in ten League games between the end of September and mid December, ended any hopes of automatic promotion. Realistically, only the final promotion play-off place of fourth in a target now, given the points gap between ourselves and the teams in the top 3, and the fact that we have played more games than some of our rivals. Here is the current table:
As I have stated many times in match reports and other articles this season, the failure to address an immobile midfield has cost us dearly over the course of the season and although there was hope with the performance of the new midfield 3 (Tom Beadling, James Craigen and James Vincent) in their first game together at Livingston, it may have come too late. Will Allan Johnston be given a chance to rebuild over the summer and try again next season, if we miss out on a play-off place? Can we even be confident if we do finish fourth, given that we have not beaten a full time team away from home all season?
Failure to achieve a top 4 place, in this most open of divisions, should see a new manager appointed at EEP this summer. That's not arrogance - it's a fair and realistic expectation for our club and if we are to progress we will require a new approach. In 1999, Dick Campbell was fired when Dunfermline were second in what is now the Championship. Almost 20 years later, mid table should not be acceptable and while we have no right to win the division, we can surely expect to put up a challenge to do so. If we accept mediocrity, that is what we will be served up with.