It's been a pretty lousy three years for anyone wearing a white and black kit. I can't believe we're actually talking about relegation - again. But I'm a glass-half full kind of person. So, even with all the gloom and doom I see on Twitter, Facebook, and read in the newspapers, I'm confident we'll stay up again this year. And here's why.
Last year at this time, we were sitting on 39 points. Today we're parked just below that, at 37. However, last year our squad was significantly weaker than our present one, and if you'd like proof of that, I'll be happy to toss out a few names to jog your memory. Just tell me to stop when you've suffered enough:
Today's squad is better - they're not great, but they are better. We have the most potent strike force in the Championship in Ross and Moussa. We've got an improving and creative midfield with Tom Cairney, Jaimie O'Hara, Chris Baird, and a rejuvenated Scott Parker. Our defense is...not as bad as it used to be, but still needs some hefty shoring up over the summer, and a good place to start would be picking up Michael Madl's contract schnell. Lastly, some of our long-term injuries, such as Cauley Woodrow and Marcus Bettinelli, could be back in the first team this week.
Not only that, but I think it's a fair to say that Slavisa Jokanovic is a better manager than his recent predecessors. He's significantly savvier, more creative, and has a refreshing habit of telling it like it is. Has he gotten everything right since he started pacing the technical area? No, but at least I don't wince in pain and cover my eyes each time we concede a corner kick or set play. And with the exception of the Blackburn match, the losses we've suffered since Slavisa took over haven't been so lopsided and, frankly, embarrassing.
Still unconvinced we'll survive the drop? Okay. Let's do the math.
As I said before, we're currently at 37 points, and the standard assumption is that we'll need 50 to be assured of safety. We've got eleven matches left, and three of those teams are, amazingly enough, below us in the table. From our last eleven matches we earned ten points. I wouldn't bet my house on it, but I feel pretty certain that we can pick up at least 12 or 13 more points from the remaining games. Don't forget - Bristol City, MK Dons, and Bolton are all home at the Cottage, which should equate to at least seven points. We really should have the backbone to pick up at least a few more wins and ties along the way, pushing us up over the top.
And when we're there, when we're safe and sound, then I'll hoist my glass half-full, and we can drink to next season.