If football is religion, then it is a faith — like so many faiths — that loves its miracles. For those who want to believe, even the smallest scrap of conjecture can turn into hard evidence, like being born again after seeing Jesus in a tortilla. So you can forgive me if I got a little over-excited about Preston North End’s recent run.
After an extended run of bad results left them at the foot of the Championship table for most of the season, their new-found winning ways had a whiff of near-impossible. They beat struggling Coventry City and Scunthorpe United, and then put a dent in Swansea City’s promotion hopes. Was it the sign that Lilywhite fans were hoping for? Could they overcome a massive deficit and pull themselves out of the relegation zone? Might they find redemption that would wash away the sins of this season?
Sadly, the answer looks a likely “No”. A 2-1 loss to Reading, followed by a draw to Portsmouth has them seven points from safety with only six games left. If you take Lanthier’s Law (sort of like Coughlin’s Law, only without Elisabeth Shue and the cool boat) that any club seven points or more above the relegation zone is safe, the only team that PNE could hope to catch is Crystal Palace. But the Lancashire side is not known for having divine intervention on their side.
Preston is not a clutch club. They’ve made the promotion playoffs four times in the last ten seasons, but each time they have been denied entry. They remain in second-tier Purgatory… and now they may pay for their transgressions by being cast down into the depths below. Yet still, Preston fans seek salvation, looking for someone to answer their prayers.