And so, just as quickly as we were saying hello to the Premier League, inclusion on Match of the Day and getting excited to visit Anfield, Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, so we might or might not be saying goodbye to it.
The adrenaline rush of purely being in the top-flight seems to have made this season even more of a whirlwind than last season was. The fewer number of games has also certainly played its part.
When we looked at the fixture list before the season starts, we saw this run of games as vital to our survival. With three of the top six facing us in the last three fixtures including two away games, the run of games that has seen us and will see us play Swansea (h), Crystal Palace (h), Newcastle (a), Brighton (a), Watford (h) and Everton (a) was always going to be pivotal.
The results we got and will get from these fixtures would go a long way to deciding if we are to survive relegation or not. Unfortunately, so far, we have failed to gain the necessary points to give us breathing space.
After a frustrating goalless draw at home to Swansea, we followed this up with two hugely disappointing defeats to Crystal Palace and Newcastle. In the case of the former, by all accounts, we failed to turn up. We had no penetration, no attacking threat and a team who seemed wracked with nerves after promising to go out and fight in the build-up to the game all week.
In the case of the latter, a 1-0 defeat, in all honesty, flattered us and we could have been 3-0 down at half-time quite easily. Most of us were baffled by Wagner’s defensive tactics against a mediocre Newcastle team who would have been dead and buried already if it wasn’t for manager Rafa Benitez’s miracle work. Although the late goal was very disappointing, it wasn’t unexpected.
We bounced back from this defeat with a hard-fought draw at the Amex Stadium against Brighton. However, it was another game that Town could have quite easily lost, with Brighton spurning several guilt-edged chances.
On the other hand, it was also a game Town could and perhaps should have won, with Brighton going down to 10 men for the last 20 minutes of the game and Collin Quaner somehow failing to convert from four yards out, in the final moments of the game.
This brings us nicely onto the Watford game this Saturday. I cannot emphasise enough how massive a game this is.
If we can get 4 points from these next two home games, I think it would almost seal our survival. I say this because of the dearth of quality the teams around us are showing (as well as us) and the fact that no one can seem to buy a win, let alone earn one.
Stoke and Southampton’s run-in is almost, if not worse than ours and neither teams seem to be able to summon the requisite quality they need to drag themselves out of the mess they have found themselves in.
We cannot get to the end of this season and have any regrets about how we approached certain games. If we are to get relegated, it must be an outcome determined only by ourselves.
Wagner must set out his team on Saturday with a positive, attack-minded approach with a willingness and desire to score goals. Pritchard and Mounié must link-up better than they have done at times this season and our wingers must deliver. Mooy must gamble in the box and support our forwards when chances are presented and we must commit more bodies in the box than we have done in previous games.
Defensively, we must show character, leadership and return to the solidity which served us so well at the start of the season. Our full-backs must be brave on the ball but also be careful when shadowing their respective Watford wingers. There must be no rash challenges, diving in or rush of blood when Watford is in the ascendency.
The players should take great positives from the outstanding performance they put in at Vicarage Road earlier in the season when it’s arguable that Aaron Mooy’s last great performance came in the 4-1 victory.
We might also be lucky in playing Watford at a time when they are comfortably safe and their players might already be thinking about their beach holidays to the Algarve.
We must capitalise on any complacency they show and be utterly ruthless in our finishing. Town players need to take risks and actively want the ball if we are to cause Watford any real damage.
This is not the game for caution; we must demonstrate the full force of the ‘gegenpressen’ Terrier identity when it comes down to the crunch.
As fans, we need to get behind the team, leave the groans at home and remain patient. Equally, the players must give the fans excitement and not take the easy option of cutting back and passing sideways.
I hope Wagner’s team selection reflects this. We cannot have passengers or players unwilling to make a difference. If we fulfill all the objectives I’ve outlined here and the crowd bring the noise, then Saturday could be a day to savour, not forget.