We’re at the halfway mark. And 60 is the number of points we would have if we exactly duplicate our results from the first half. It’s a respectable haul of points. The following numbers, 6, 4, 5, 6, 7, 6, 6, 7, 6, 5 are where 60 points would land us in the table at the conclusion of the season in each of the last ten seasons, in Europa, with maybe one or two exceptions (I don’t remember if 7th was a Europa spot in those years, probably).
A spot in Europa is about where most of us predicted and hoped for with tempered optimism at the outset of the season. Relative to last season’s paltry total of 50 points and 9th place finish, landing on 60 points and 6th place is a clear upgrade. But I wonder if, having watched this team over the last few months, we’d be as happy with that outcome now.
Its been an interesting first half, to say the least. Remember, way back to the beginning of the season when Kondogbia was still on the team? That saga of his transfer undoubtedly only distracted the new players (and there were many of them) from settling in to their positions. Layered onto that was the team somehow managing to have about 17 injuries in the CB/DM positions leaving us forced to start Navarro there for a game or two.
We had incredible turnover during the off season and, unsurprisingly, this team took some time to gel. We were collectively horrified when our team broke the year mark (and then the 13 month mark) of futility away from the Sanchez Pizjuan. And we were dead last in the table after five weeks of play. Some were beginning to ask for Emery’s head. After a few glimpses I think most of us were ready to loan Iborra to a team in Madagascar and Vitolo to a team in Siberia. And yet, both of those guys have since proven their quality. After our historic run of disgraceful away performance, we now have a four game undefeated streak away from home in La Liga (which goes longer if you include Copa and Europa matches). And the team has vaulted into European places, very comfortably in 7th place and within drooling distance of 4th.
To me, its hard not to be optimistic. The trajectory of this team seems clearly pointed upwards. There are blips of inconsistency (that abomination of a match against Elche comes to mind), but on the whole the team seems to be improving. No longer being in the Copa is a disappointment, but one which may help our Liga form. However, I’ll breathe easier when the winter transfer window has closed and Rakitic and Moreno are still here. I believe they will be… But you can never know. And finally, there is all of this chaos with club management. To be honest, my Spanish is too crappy to fully follow the latest developments. Maybe someone else can fill me in in the comments or write a post of the site. But I’m hoping its just some transitional pains that will not affect the team on the field, Monchi’s role as sporting director, or the team’s overall ambition going forward.
One more thing. Let’s remember that the beginning of this schedule is savagely difficult. This match away at Atletico is arguably the hardest remaining match on our schedule. So let’s enjoy it, and not feel like the sky is falling if we don’t like the result. I would not be surprised if we see our position/results slip a bit in the next month. But afterwards, we will be well positioned for another long winning streak as we push to the end of the season. I know I’m looking forward to the ride.
Anyone want to update their predictions? Point total and final position in the table?