Since we absolutely hammered Man Utd 3-0 at St James' on 4th January, we haven't had a full decent 90 mins to speak of. How we are still 6th in the league at this stage is purely down to how impressive our results were in the first half of the season. Mixed with some battling qualities.
Since the Manure hammering we lumbered to a 1-0 win v QPR, got hammered for 5 in 45 mins at Fulham, got dumped out the FA Cup by Brighton, got dominated at Blackburn but somehow won 2-0, got outplayed for 45 mins by Villa but hung on to a 2-1 win, got totally demolished at Spurs 5-0, threw away a 2-0 half time lead against the worst team in the league in Wolves, had to rely on the Mackem Slayer to salvage a draw against the enemy, gave away a ridiculous last minute goal to lose at Arsenal after doing so well and then on Sunday afternoon laboured to a un-impressive 1-0 win over Norwich.
What we have seen since the turn of the year is the team most of us and the footballing world expected to see at the start of the season. It's hardly been top 6 football.
Some of our players look knackered at times recently and yet again yesterday. Demba Ba looks a different man since he came back from the ACoN, whats up with him? Has he ran out of Strawberry Syrup? Danny Guthrie's race was ran after 70 mins. Ben Arfa looked like he couldn't get out of 3rd gear. Cabaye doesn't look fresh at all. Jonas always seems to look knackered so I can't judge him properly. Tiote, Raylor and Obertan weren't in the squad due to injury. Are we running out of steam?
If we are, then it must be down to the monumental effort our relatively small squad put into the first half of the season and that Man Utd massacre. We had realistic ambitions of Champions League football next season due to the heriocs of the lads, which have now just fell short with out seeming lack of energy.
Looking at the table, we look to be totally reliant on which 2 teams will contest the FA Cup final to see whether we will be on Channel 5 and ITV4 next season on Thursday nights. Top 7 seems a certainty. So with Liverpool already in Europe because of the Carling Cup win, we don't need to finish above them. As it happens, due to the FA Cup draw, we are relying on the 'bin dippers' once again as they will have to beat either Everton or the mackems to give us the opportunity of qualifying for the Europa League....unless we finish 5th. However, judging by our form this calendar year and Chelsea turn in fortune, it's not gonna happen.
We go to the Hawthorns next on Sunday for another 4pm Live to the nation kick off. Hopefully we will have some players back and energy injected into the squad for the 9 game run-in everyone seems to be talking about.
Let's not end the season in a wimper, you've got all summer to rest up.
Howay The Lads!