I was going to start this with a fairy tale beginning. Something along the lines of, “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin” but it sounded a bit creepy as I read it in my head so I’ve ditched that one. Then I thought of a Max Bygraves sort of intro, “I wanna tell you a story” but there are all sorts of risks with any sort of reference to a seventies star. Not that I accuse Bygraves of any impropriety, simply that there are risks which override the rewards.
What I will say is that this is something of a fairy tale compared to the past year or two. Honestly, I never thought there would be a day when I welcomed a 1 – 0 win over Fulham with the joy previously reserved for the likes of Liverpool, Manchester United and frankly everyone else in the Premier League. I miss the rapacious greed.
Well, I don’t actually but there’s something infinitely worse about watching from the outside with your nose pressed against the window than looking out from the inside.
And the prospect of being on the inside looking out is always better. This weekend’s win is three without defeat, two wins and a point. The Bruce ‘Bounce’ or a Brucie Bonus, whatever you want to call it, that’s seven points in three games, more than double the rate we were previously winning them at.
Blackburn are ‘top’ of the bottom three and whilst we’re not out of sight, it’s definitely more fun looking up than down. The nervousness of the immediate past isn’t forgotten but it’s less, well, prevalent in my thoughts. Bruce, according to Pierluigi Gollini, has the players brimming with confidence once more. Curiously, I hadn’t noticed they were brimming with confidence beforehand but let’s not get picky here.
I wonder if Roberto Di Matteo wonders where this sudden energy and pride in their performance has come from. The team is more cohesive so there’s an element of managerial change benefitting the club. It’s widely held footballing wisdom that once a manager loses a dressing room there’s no way back but you have to wonder if the Italian had it in the first place.
Bruce has them defending well, better than before and the problem of conceding late goals is largely solved. For three games anyway. Points are being picked up with regularity and you wonder if Bruce’s record of getting teams promoted from this division is set to continue.
With some fine goals as well. OK, Jonathan Kodjia’s was. Almost wasted on the Championship, it was a finish which deserved a bigger stage. Albert Adomah’s cross was another fine piece wing play, with Bruce’s task simple: keep this partnership forging ahead and bring others along.
The problems haven’t miraculously solved themselves and it’s too soon to declare promotion as a reality. However, six points behind Bristol City is almost dreamlike territory compared to the slump we were enduring. A new manager making a difference? Question is why it didn’t happen before.