What Portsmouth's promotion rivals Coventry, Sunderland, Ipswich, Peterborough and the rest are saying about the League One promotion battle
It’s a League One promotion race that even a clairvoyant would find difficult to predict the outcome of.
If you gave a fan a tenner to pop into the bookies and have a flutter on who they think will go up, there'd be a few slips scrunched up and rewritten before their mind was made up.
Even after the bet was processed, there’d still be doubts cast.
But it underlines how close the battle is, with nine point separating the top nine in the third tier.
Pompey are well within the mix, with the 3-1 win over MK Dons on Tuesday moving them back into the play-off places.
But Rotherham, Coventry, Wycombe, Sunderland, Fleetwood, Peterborough, Ipswich and Oxford also have designs on reaching the Championship.
Kenny Jackett has admitted the Blues are going to have to take a high percentage of points from their remaining games if his side are to go up.
And here’s what the managers of their respective clubs aiming for promotion have said about the intriguing scramble for the second tier...
Rotherham boss Paul Warne via The Yorkshire Post
‘It’s nice to be driving into work thinking you’re top of the league.
‘You then become the hunted a little bit but I think the lads enjoy it and it’s nice that if you win you know you stay top of the league.
;If you’re in seventh and trying to get to sixth you can win and think it’s brilliant but then everyone else wins.’
Mark Robins told Coventry Live
‘Out of the last eight games we’ve won 20 points which is absolutely phenomenal. Now we will look at it in blocks of four games and let’s have a look and see where we go.
‘We’re looking at two points a game and if we can do that then we won’t be too far away.
‘But everyone else has to play each other and it will be an interesting run in, that’s for sure.’
Wycombe chief Gareth Ainsworth via Bucks Free Press
‘The fans, the staff - everyone who comes to the place, you get this mental advantage when you turn up at Wycombe Wanderers and it’s brilliant.
‘The boys are really together in there and I have said all along that we have done what we have set out to do, with half or even a quarter of the resources some of the teams have got in our league.
‘Yet we are still wedged in the middle of this promotion hunt which is absolutely fabulous. The boys are under no pressure to get promoted.
‘I know Rob and Pete (Couhig) might say don’t say that as we want you up there! And of course, I want us to be up there too, but, realistically, we are punching above our weight and I’m really proud.’
Phil Parkinson told the Sunderland Echo
‘When you come off the pitch at the top end of the division, you expect the top teams to have won.
‘It is important we keep doing our job and making sure our run lasts longer than everybody else’s.
‘There is not let-up, we can’t take our foot off the gas and the lads are driving themselves on. There is a sense of desire amongst the group and they are a good team to work with.’
Posh boss Darren Ferguson via the Peterborough Telegraph
‘We have no more scope for error as far as automatic promotion is concerned, but we have just shown we are capable of a long winning run so we will try and win as many games as we can and see where it takes us.
‘When we went up the last time from League One through the play-offs the top two had flown clear, but that’s not the case here and with everyone playing everyone else it’s a very hard league to predict.’
Speaking after the 1-1 draw at Sunderland, Fleetwood’s Joey Barton told his club’s website
‘We are the real deal. We’ve known that and we’ve been trying hard to get the results to validate that and I believe they have come in recent weeks.
‘At the end of the day, we have done enough yet. We are in the mix, we should be above Sunderland tonight. If we meet Sunderland in the play-offs, would we be worried? I don’t think so.’
Paul Lambert via the East Anglian Daily Times
‘We'll need to win a lot of games, which is possible because the way we are dominating games. It's not as if we're thinking 'where's it coming from?' That's not the case.
‘Every time we start the game, every time we have the ball we look like we can score.
‘It's just about that little bit of composure in the box. Hopefully that will come.’
Karl Robinson told Oxford’s website
‘We are breaking it down into three game blocks now and this is the start of a new one.
‘The last one was good –could have been better – but we have to just stay calm and remember what it is we are trying to achieve. We have so much football to play and we have to be ready and raring to go.”