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If wed only kept Howie..

Top two target

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Yup. I’ve never considered that we’re not big favourites for the top two, and can’t put up a good argument against. We weren’t far off survival last year (23 points from first 20 matches pre-strengthening…..1 penalty v 10 against; Cameron Jerome’s first of many vs Palace; Klose’s injury, massive decisions going for Sam Allardyce not just against us but all season), invested loads in keeping the majority of the squad together, and most importantly, the opposition aren’t on the same level. Okay, so I think Newcastle will win it and second is between us and Villa who were awful last year and a work in progress. As for the others who weren’t good enough to go up last year, I don’t rate anyone. Possibly Wolves, but they have the potential to be another basket case. Derby, Brighton, Sheffield Wednesday, Birmingham, Fulham, who else Ips**t? Nearly all of our bench would get into these sides’ starting line-up. We’re probably just as strong as two seasons ago, don’t have a novice manager so needn’t give others a ten point head start at Christmas.

It may not happen of course, but I’d be surprised if we finish below any non-relegated sides.

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I watched the Birmingham victory on Sky yesterday and it was easy to see how their lively forwards were able to take our defence by surprise and they had enough in their own defence to easily cope with Stephen Naismith as main attacking opponent.

They have gradually risen from the ashes and have a very decent young, powerful and enthusiastic squad who play to their strengths.

They will have some famous moments this season, but I doubt if one of them will be at Carrow Road for the return as there''s not quite enough quality there and they probably lack strength in depth which is one of our stronger cards.

Outsiders for play-offs, IMO.

Villa are already giving themselves a lot to do and might well be out of it by Christmas unless they string together some form games.

Huddersfield and Barnsley should fade due to the squad strength factor, and either could lose better players in the next window, whilst 1p5wich play dreadful football and can''t score and the only reason they are mentioned in the context of rivals here is because of McCarthy''s resolve and the usual over-optimism of those on TWTD. Derby continue to create more problems than they solve whilst Wednesday and Wolves are probably a season away from threatening the automatic spots.

Brighton are my (not so) dark horses. The Hoots is doing well there and with tactics usually far removed from those he employed at Carrow Road.

As things are panning out, and with lesser sides able to make the early running, this league doesn''t seem to be quite as strong as I expected it to be this season.

It''s still no pushover though and I would hope the Brum game emphasises the fact that no team, no game, no result can be taken for granted. This includes Burton at home next time out.

Newcastle are clearly the main threat, but they seem brittle, inconsistent and prone to being weighed down by the level of expectation that they have created for themselves.

Get a point up there and we will be well on track for top spot by Xmas and all our doubts about wee Alex might be dispelled.

(Then I woke up.)

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