Season 1: February and March
On the field
So you know when i stupidly said the Europa League could be on the cards. Well forget that as i clearly hadn't seen our fixture list. In February we had Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City whilst March also saw Arsenal in what was a tough run of fixtures.
A run that saw us lose our first three games in February against Chelsea (2-1), Everton (3-2) and Manchester United (2-0). It was a horrible run of games that could have pulled us back into the relegation places but luckily the teams below us also went on a woeful run of form to keep our cushion intact. To be fair we were unlucky in defeat againt Chelsea as we largely outplayed them and we fought valiantly against Everton coming back from 2-0 down to level it before Moise Kean scored a hat trick goal whilst Utd was the only poor game where we were weirdly beaten at set pieces on both occasions.
Finishing the month against Man City was not what i would have hoped for but we raced into a 2-0 lead thanks to Chris Wood again before we conceded not one but two goals in the 85th minute to annoyingly get pegged back to 2-2 and pick up just a point.
Still the run of defeats was over but we had now gone 5 games without victory and i was conscious that i didn't want to slip. Then along came Brighton who were struggling and it showed as we pushed them aside with ease in a 3-1 victory before the shock result of the save so far. High flying Arsenal (that in itself is a shock) were on a long undefeated run at the top of the table but they couldnt deal with us as we came back from 1-0 behind to score a late late goal to win the tie 2-1 and give us the most unlikely of victories. A 1-1 draw with Bournemouth ended the month as March proved to be the complete opposite to February
So there you have it. Premiership safety all but guaranteed as our gap has now increased to 14 points with just 21 to play for. In fact we shouldn't finish below 15th based on the current table. In reality i think the best we can hope for is around 11th and 12th, with 11th perfectly matching Alex Ferguson's achievements with United so that will be the goal for the season.
So how are we doing this? Well the answer is Chris Wood, Dwight McNeil and James Rodriguez as a front three with all three performing well and getting on the scoresheet on a regular basis. Without these three we can be quite toothless at times. Maitland Niles has looked pretty good in midfield showing real hustle and drive and Jack has been ok without setting the world alight. So not a complete disaster there from him and he will likely stay in the squad next season and get shifted on after his first full season for hopefully similar money to what i paid for him.
Is the man to replace him going to come from this first batch of youth players? In all honesty. No
No Superstars there for the time being. Once the season is over i will do a full staff revamp which is going to be needed as bloody Sean Dyche has stolen 3 staff members and taken them to Aston Villa. Anyway... See you for the end of the season