To me the answer to the question posed in the title is, to put it bluntly, no.
Getting 5th place is beyond us for me as I think Chelsea have more quality than us and that will show in the final few weeks of the season. However we are faced with with the possibility of getting it, which is an achievement in itself.
I’ve spoke about perception before, especially when it came to the perception that the Mackems are doing well and may catch us up while the perception of us is that we were, or are, stuttering. Whatever caused that, whether it be media massaging or something else, the fact is that the perception was wrong and we’ve done better than them over any amount of games you wish to look back upon. Doesn’t feel like it though does it?
As it happens, they have tailed off in recent weeks and it now looks unlikely that they will catch us. The same can be said of Everton who need to do exactly the same as Sunderland to catch us and overhaul us. Liverpool are still touch and go in terms of catching us. The gap is five points which isn’t a great deal, but if we can beat them at St James’ Park at the start of next month it will help us.
Then we have Chelsea above us, only two points above us no less. They have quality in depth compared to us, and a much shorter injury list to contend with, but however unlikely it is actually still possible that we could finish above them and pip them to 5th place.
As I said though, it’s unlikely, or I think it is anyway personally. My money is on 6th or at the very worst 7th, which is still a fantastic achievement lets not forget. However, league position will feel hollow if there is no European spot for us at the end of it.
The ironic thing, despite my feelings that we are pretty much nailed on for a 6th or 7th placed finish, is that we could yet miss out on Europe through results in the FA Cup. Don’t get me wrong, all the ingredients are there for the final to be played between two teams that have already qualified for Europe, but there is still a lurking presence of a team or two that haven’t yet qualified and are unlikely to do so through league position.
And wouldn’t that just be a kick in the teeth after what, in the main, has been a very good season?