Sitting fifth in the table, with over half the season played, and recently into the 4th round of the FA cup for the first time in a few years – what do Town fans now see as a successful season?
Just hours prior to the first game of the season, against Brentford, while attending the fans’ Q&A forum, I asked Dean Hoyle what he saw as success in 2016-17.
He replied that a top half finish would be deemed successful, whilst acknowledging David Wagner didn’t necessarily share this view as he saw other factors as more important; from this I inferred that Hoyle understood Wagner was concentrating on the playing style initially, which should allow results to follow.
As for the fans: you will always have the unrealistic ones – those who were citing that only promotion would be good enough this season.
At the other end of the spectrum were the overly pessimistic fans believing we’d be battling relegation again. I, on the other hand, along with a number of fans I spoke to pre-season, agreed that a mid-table finish, in a higher position than last season having accumulated more points, would be a successful first season in charge for Wagner and a good foundation to build on.
However, now placed in fifth, having established an ‘identity’ safe in the knowledge we can do more than match the majority of the teams in this division, would anything less than playoffs be an unsuccessful season?
Although it’s only human nature for expectations to change according to circumstance, I wouldn't categorise it as an unsuccessful season if we were to finish outside the top six, but would be hugely disappointing taking into account the start to the season and what we’ve achieved to date.
This is why I think it’s imperative that we take advantage of the lofty position in which we find ourselves. We need at least one striker – not some forward, utility player who is categorised as an attacking midfielder, winger who can also play as a forward – a proper, specialist striker, who feels at home spearheading the team; someone who can score goals and make his presence felt at the same time.
With the games, including a very winnable 4th round FA cup tie, coming thick and fast over the next few weeks, not only will this allow Town to have a ‘Plan B’, that doesn’t include throwing on central defenders as makeshift strikers, but it will also take the pressure off Nahki Wells and the other attacking players- physically and mentally.
This is the best opportunity we’ve had in my lifetime to reach the promised land of the Premier League. With some special talents on loan – like Mooy and Palmer, who won’t be easy to replace if we can’t retain their services beyond this season – we need to take full advantage of our position and make a concerted effort to cement our place in the playoffs.
A result that I'm sure any Town fan would agree represents a very successful season.
Mark Habergham is a 31-year-old Online Acquisition Manager at The Yorkshire Building Society.
Mark first fell in love with Town when his Dad took him to Leeds Road at the age of eight-years-old and has been a dedicated season ticket holder ever since.