Millwall manager Gary Rowett is looking forward to the club’s D-day at Bournemouth on Saturday.
The Cherries are already Premier League-bound after their 1-0 win over Forest on Tuesday. And the South Londoners still have hopes of joining them, via the play-offs, but are not in pole position to finish in the top six.
Millwall have to beat Scott Parker’s side and then hope Middlesbrough and Luton both drop points. Sheffield United are also catchable but that needs more of a goal swing.
“We’re playing against a very good team and it’s hard to predict how Bournemouth might line up,” said Rowett. “Will they give some of the players who haven’t played some minutes? Will they play the same team? Whatever happens it’s hard for us to predict that. As usual we have to concentrate on what we do.
“We’re in a position where other teams are holding on. We’ve got something to get. We’ve got everything to gain and nothing to lose. I know sometimes that is a bit cliche and players will still feel they have an opportunity that could be missed. But genuinely, again, it is out of our hands.
“Once again we’ll have a way of starting the game and results will dictate what we do within the game. We’ll plan for every eventuality – how do we chase it? How do we keep it? How do we stay in the game? How do we chase the game with more possession? There are so many different variables that we’ll try to be ready for.
“Ultimately it will come down to how we handle the last game and how Bournemouth handle the last game. If they play like they did against Forest, with the same quality and energy, then any team would find it hard to beat them. We’ll certainly have a good go – I’m looking forward to it.”
So does the old adage ‘the table never lies’ apply at this stage?
Rowett said: “When you get down to this stage of the season, and everything is fairly equal, then the last day – and moments within it – can have a big effect.
“A poor refereeing decision, an offside that isn’t an offside – or whatever it is – these are the things that will potentially dictate some of these games and some of these moments in the last game.
“I think to get to this point, you have played 45 games and there is a relative amount of fairness in where you are because there is a big data pool.
“It’s probably about right for us in certain ways, because we had the potential to be in the top six at this point – but just in some of the games there are things we needed to do a little bit better. I have to say that at all the teams I’ve been at, this feels the closest in terms of playing against some of the top teams, the consistency in how mobile the team has been and in terms of the quality of the squad.
“I wouldn’t disagree that the table doesn’t lie but the last game can skew the final standings just because things can be out of your own hands.”