Starting raging favourites at home against a club in crisis who'd just enjoyed the biggest selection turnover since the days where Ross Lyon could deliberately choose second rate sides instead of having them thrust upon him. What could possibly go wrong? At least after two debacles against Essendon and one against Carlton during the last calendar year our fans learnt their lesson and settled down on outrageous claims about leaving the opposition sobbing in a heap by the final siren after a triple figure win. The only people left talking about thrashings were neutrals and psychologically battered Brisbane fans.
The Lions sent out a side so anonymous that it would be surprising if their own fans recognised half of them. Even when we were at our lowest ebb surely semi-interested neutral fans would have picked more of our players from a line-up. Most of them were probably there on a work for the dole scheme, and that's just the kind of side we were likely to either lose against or beat in such an unconvincing fashion that four points were the only benefit. Thank god we've reached the stage where the latter exists as an option instead of every victory being treated like gold. Did anyone send you a congratulatory text today? No, that era is over and we're much for the better for it.
It was obvious from very early that we weren't going to lose, but we were heading squarely for an uninspiring victory before finally beating them into submission in the last quarter. If we were a horse it wouldn't be treated as a top trial for a big race, but our form against the garbage of the competition has finally reached the stage where we don't have to face them in fear. I'm not getting too excited yet, maybe we've just got the wood on Queensland sides. Besides, if we were a horse they'd have put the white screen up and dispatched us years ago.
It's a good thing the Lions are bobbins because we'd never have gotten away with half the stuff we did against a side who were in any way competent. It wasn't like watching us at our worst, because we played like them on our best days under Neeld, but they weren't far away. To their credit they held back the tide for as long as possible by turning the game into a slopfest which we were unable to bust through. I remember us doing the same against plenty of mid-table teams and it usually ended in the same way, with a heavy but not fatal defeat.
All the chat during the week about how we weren't taking them lightly only heightened my suspicions of an impending cock-up. I was desperate for us not to let them get their hopes up at the start, so when they crashed out of the middle at the first bounce and kicked to a mark almost directly in front with Sizzle Jr. despairingly lunging at his opponent's outstretched arms the only reaction that seemed appropriate was laughter.
Other than winning free kicks by ducking into tackles and congesting the play in a way that must have had Roos secretly nodding in approval the only thing they did successfully all day was spurn good chances, and with a dodgy wind blowing across the ground he mercifully hit the post.
Even with some of our best players well held the game was rarely in doubt from that point. It didn't mean we always looked convincing, but once we got out to a reasonable lead it would have been nearly impossible to go sour long enough for the Lions to take advantage while simultaneously launching their assault on the Guinness World Record for 'most botched chances'. As the afternoon went on we made our own bid for the title, but in a phrase you don't readily associate with the Melbourne Football Club class won out.
In the first quarter with the game still there to be won their kicking was reaching Melbourne-esque levels of disarray. You couldn't help but beat a team who turned several attacking opportunities with multiple players running free into turnovers. Thank god we did because even more importantly than being ahead of the ledger after nine games for the first time since 2006 it means we don't have to hear people using the phrase "arousal levels" in an attempt to sound knowledgeable.
For once playing under a roof might have us helped, anyone who says there are no winds at Etihad Stadium has never been there but knocking out some of the tricky sideways breeze would have done us wonders. Given the way it was going across the ground we were reasonable from set shots, it was mostly wild snaps that were missing. It might have helped the Lions kick more accurately for goal, but at the same time would probably have generated dozens more shots down our end.
The first goal demonstrated why letting the game be played in the open could only end in disaster for the Lions as we gave them a taste of what the Dogs did to us last week by bouncing from end to the other unchallenged. Two of the keys in the chain were Kennedy and Petracca who both had wonderful first quarters. BK (Burger King? Pair him with The Hamburglar and make a fortune) was good but didn't stretch it across four quarters, and while Truck faded away late in the game he was immense early. Officially he kicked 0.4, morally he kicked 1.3 (more on that later) but arguably better than his attacks were his brutal tackles. Quality of opposition notwithstanding forward pressure is back with a vengeance, and we will all watch endless repeats of his absolute burial of Allen Christensen which generated the second goal.
Garlett was on the end of the lightning fast transition, and even though his eyes were shiftily darting everywhere to find somebody to pass to he was better off kicking from the boundary line than 20 metres out directly in front. That settled us down, and the second from Kennedy provided a decent buffer against my nerves.
Hooray also for Pearce Hanley giving away the most obvious deliberately rushed behind of all time. Justin Leppitsch got a bit sooky about it after the match, but if that had been one of our players I'd have been horrified if the coach tried to argue that it wouldn't have been paid under any interpretation since the rule was introduced. They were spectacularly good at cheating when tackled (something which we are conversely no good at due to retaining some morality and will probably only perfect a week before the rules are changed) but this was so blatant he should have interchanged himself in shame after. Australia's ambassador to Mars Dwayne Russell responded with the classic line "I know he's from Ireland but he's been around long enough..."
Defence has been thrown out the window this season but I'm still concerned about ours. This is mainly because I'm still not used to us having kicked the third most points in the competition and still expect goals to be drip-fed throughout the day so we're lucky to get 8.12.60. Even as goals from a metre out have become footy's next big thing (stats boffins - what's the difference in goals kicked from 10m or less this year compared to other seasons?) I'm still concerned we'll never kick enough to counter decent teams.
Sizzle Sr is a given (albeit an unsigned one), but with Sizzle Jr still bright green and the sudden drop in popularity of Garland and Dunn we're lacking one tall. Hot rumours have us pursuing either Michael Hurley or Steven May, and while one bashed a taxi driver and one bashed the SME we're suddenly seeing success on the horizon so this is no time to be putting recruits through a fit and proper persons test.
One defender I'll say no thanks to is Daniel Merrett. Remember when we tried to trade for him a couple of years ago? He played a good first 20 minutes on Hogan before dying in the arse in spectacular fashion. First came the deliberate where he could have taken possession of a ball bouncing straight at him and instead thwacked it straight out of bounds, then for the rest of the day he was either punching away easy marks or dropping them.
It was a horrible first quarter for Hogan, led to the ball and generally looking a bit sulky but the best players can make an impact even when they're not at their best and he finished it with two goals. He should have had a third, robbed out of some plus-sized crumb by a dubious mark being paid to a Brisbane player who practically dropped the ball into his hands.
We were dominating play but until Hulk got into at the end were getting scant reward. It was a return to my cherished theory that as long as we get it inside 50 enough we'll score, and given that we had 36 scoring shots from 52 entries you wonder how much more brutal it might have got if we'd been more dominant out of the middle.
All week we heard about how our new and innovative centre bounce techniques were dependent on Gawn dominating, and after the last two weeks I'd say it's time for the boffins at MFC Labs to start developing alternatives. He continued to battle away but needs to really squash somebody again to get his season going if he wants to stay on Goldstein's tail in the battle for ruck supremacy. Maybe playing him for four quarters in a practice match on a hot day in Craigieburn is going to be exposed as a stupid idea sooner than we expected?
Concentrating on defenders storming the centre like they were launching the invasion of Normandy was fine but that didn't explain why the Bulldogs were bounding from one end to the other for the rest of the game, not just from the middle. It's probably curtains for the tactic now anyway, you'd expect that other clubs would have already been aware but after things are discussed openly they always come to a screeching halt - like when Jamar/Moloney ticked away through 2010 and the first half of 2011 developing the Psychic Friends Connection before overplaying their hand and breaking Adelaide so badly that they were never allowed the same freedom again.
It was odd that when Pedersen was a late withdrawal we didn't bother introducing another makeshift ruckman. Against a side who don't have much more than ruckmen it was risky, but they must have backed themselves to win out of the middle no matter what happened. That didn't go quite as planned but Brisbane were so adept at shooting themselves in the foot that it made little difference.
The last obscure player we had contesting a centre-bounce was Dunn in the last round of 2015 when nobody was taking the game seriously, so without him in the side there was an extremely thin field of alternatives. When Watts wandered off to a centre bounce I thought "this will go badly" but all things considered he actually did really well. Let's not push our luck though, the #fistedforever era hasn't been completely banished yet so knowing our luck the best season of his life will end with a Gareth John style crushed larynx.
In playing another good game Jack was also forced to rise above having his teammates continually ignoring him while he was standing a mile in the open. God knows what happened to his partnership with Hogan but Jesse had absolutely no interest in him, cavorting with Jeff Garlett instead as the two tried everything they could to set up goals for each other. I'm sure there was no Barry Round/Ricky Quade style malice about it and they'll reignite their sparkling, lucrative partnership again soon but there were times in the second quarter when it looked like the coldest tag-team bust-up since Shawn Michaels threw Marty Jannetty through the Barber Shop window.
My favourite bit was when Jack was burnt like buggery but after we got the goal anyway he momentarily stopped to argue the point before realising he was supposed to be the centre-bounce ruckman and having to trot off. He eventually had to do his own work, taking advantage of Oliver bursting from the centre like he was in the Grand Final Sprint to jump all over a hapless defender for a mark and goal. In the middle of all this Michie kicked his first career goal, and while he was far from terrible you just know that against quality opposition it's not going to work.
The Hogan/Garlett show was the main event of a second quarter where for unclear reasons we started playing arrogant, carnivale football when a simple nudge would have sent the Lions sprawling over the edge. To prove how far we've come this year in Round 2 it was "what right do Melbourne players have to take anybody lightly?" and now it had become "what right do Melbourne players have to try playing sexy football against a demoralised opponent?" I can think of a few times over years where we'd have benefited from sides playing Cirque Du Soleil footy when they had us wide open for a beating.
It was one of those days where I expected a five goal quarter to be followed by one (which is every day when we kick five goals in a first quarter) and while we doubled our tally four of them came in a seven minute burst. I'm not complaining, I'll take five goals in a quarter by any means necessary - even if we could have had more if there wasn't so much pissfarting around going on.
The difference between the sides was so stark that we should have been beating their brains in, and conceding the last two goals of the quarter was an appropriate Razzle Dazzle Tax. The margin was out to 44 after Watts' goal, but even reduced to 32 there was no realistic way they could sustain attack long enough to catch us. It would be like asking a drunk to walk on a tightrope, he might get a couple of metres across but the obvious is going to happen eventually.
We were a second away from a 'steadier' when Gawn was narrowly beaten to a mark 20m out by the siren. Somehow this provoked handbags at 20 paces style macho wankery where Max was seen whispering sweet nothings into Merrett's ear. Hopefully he was delivering him some really filthy chat midway between the usual lame on-field sledging and Patrick McGinnity's comments about Ricky Petterd's mum. Nothing came of it, and with all the fines we've copped for wrestling and meleeing this year nobody was going to waste their money on a dust up with Brisbane.
I expected that after Roos/Goodwin/whoever is actually coaching us right now told them to pull their finger out and stop showboating that we'd come out and stomp the Lions into dust. I liked to picture somebody dragging in a substantial list of all the times we'd been thrashed over the years, unfurling it theatrically and asking "don't you think it's time you took some revenge?"
We won big eventually, but not before a quarter that threatened to single-handedly undo the theory that the quality of footy has gone through the roof this year thanks to the new deliberate rule. The rule that could save that quarter hasn't been invented yet, but you can be sure when it is the AFL will introduce it at the drop of a hat and deal with the fall-out later.
If Round 2 was exactly the same game that we'd played against Essendon in 2015 this shaped up similarly to our last win over the Lions. That day we'd done all the heavy lifting in the first half then sludged our way to the final siren offering no entertainment value whatsoever, and this was rapidly heading down the same path.
The folly of playing like millionaires in the second quarter threatened to be exposed when the Lions kicked the first goal almost straight away. They started to trouble us but after getting that one from a metre out couldn't kick for goal to save themselves for the rest of the quarter. It might have got altogether far too interesting for my liking if they'd got any closer, because all of a sudden the artistic footy had been replaced with an interpretative tribute to Andres Serrano's Piss Christ.
Maybe the half-time dressing down for all the antics caused our players to recoil in horror at not being able to play funky football any more? Thank the good footballing lord that the opposition were such a rabble and only managed five more points for the quarter.
We did kick a goal through Petracca, after which the ball managed to get all the way back to the middle for a centre bounce without any Brisbane players complaining about it being touched or the umpire calling for a review before some miserable arsehole decided he'd launch a vigilante review. He came to the conclusion that it had been touched, and it very well might have been but without conclusive footage or any Brisbane players appealing for a replay and the ludicrous amount of time elapsed before anyone realised what was going on it was an unwelcome intervention. The worst thing was you know they would never do that in a real game, "would you want to see a Grand Final decided like that?" is usually the signal to stop listening to somebody but if they even pulled that off in the first quarter of an Elimination Final I'd be astonished.
At this point several seagulls started swirling around me, a dire portent of evil like Edgar Allen Poe's Raven. Not only were we going to turn a period of dominance into defeat by playing like we were at a Full Moon Party but as the only person these airborne disease vectors had any interest in I was also going to be shat on from close-range.
Clearance king Oliver was at it again, a super reliable option for getting the ball out of the centre but also setting up the chain of possessions which ended in Newton kicking a much needed goal when we wobbling all over the place like Kayne Turner at a booze bus. The Hamburglar (I will not have any of this 'Clarrie' rubbish any more than I'll cop The Spencil being called 'Pencil') was playing such a good game despite looking half fit that even when he fell flat on his arse at the end of the quarter he still managed to find a target to handball to.
The seagulls eventually departed to plague somebody else, and Brisbane went with them. When Merrett's poxy attempt at a double fist sent the ball straight up in the air for Hogan to crumb another we might not have hit the Chris Sullivan Line but adjusted for the incredible blundering of the opposition it was near enough to it that I could afford to relax.
It was hardly the first test for the AFL's all-new version of the shot clock where it goes off in the last two minutes and the umpire can call play on if somebody's showing no interest - even they wouldn't allow a player to be penalised for glancing sideways. Forget the clichéd 'basketball background', if the Acting Football League brings in any more rules which you can circumvent by looking like you're doing something the next big thing will be recruiting Thespians from the cast of Guys and Dolls.
The game was well and truly won by then so what sort of forward wouldn't want to get it through as quickly as possible so they could enjoy multiple other opportunities to kick goals? He is an odd character, but an effective and soon to be obscenely rich one. If he loves the tension of a countdown clock he should negotiate his contract via a game of Beat The Bomb. If you're interested in torturing yourself with conspiracy theories about where he'll be next year have a look at his semi-interested performance singing the song. I just think he's not big on singing.
2013/14 Adam would have been baffled sitting there watching me legitimately concerned that we weren't going to score 100, but once we got there we banged on another 31 just for the sake of it. Party time was officially opened when Hogan spurned his sixth to prove he wasn't all about Garlett by setting up Kent.
Harmes kicked three of the junkiest junk-timers ever for four total but once again not a soul is arguing. He has excellent goal sense and loves crumb so I'm interested in the theory of having him and Kent swapping positions. Does anyone actually play in positions these days or am I living in 1998?
We are developing a decent undercard of players, people love to talk about premierships being won by the 16-22 group and considering the players we've still got in the VFL we're getting somewhere on this front. I'm not convinced on Wagner (has shown good signs though), Sizzle Jr (plenty of time for him though) or Michie but I know deep in my heart that Hunt and Neal-Bullen are the real deal. Hunt runs off half-back in a way that suggests Harry O may not be required even when fit, Bugg delivers a few shocking disposals but he can get the ball and is generally ok with it and I remain a solid Ben Newton fan even if he'll be straight out the door again when Tyson recovers from illness.
You don't even need to include Stretch in the discussion after the last fortnight, he's come on spectacularly. Roos went on to suggest he was playing young players in different spots to gain them experience, which I assume is ok as nobody's talking about Tankquiry II: Electric Boogaloo. It's amazing what you're allowed to do when draft picks aren't involved.
For all Dwayne's efforts to claim that we'd been "awe inspiring at times" (take a cold shower mate) the run at the end made it look better than it was. We were the better team by a long way but practically played against an empty net. Remember when we were that empty net and shudder.
It reminded me of all the times we'd dragged a team down to our level, giving everyone a tedious day out before ultimately succumbing to a limp defeat. A real contender would have brained them, and I'm not sure a real contender wouldn't have brained us too but winning shit games is what growing teams do. It will mean very little if we don't turn up in Alice Springs next week ready to rumble.
I've come to prefer Dwayne's childlike enthusiasm over Gerald Healy's stream of misery or anything involving BT but best to stick to screaming about firestarters rather than doing open auditions to replace Dennis Cometti.
Dwayne says this is Jack Watts’ best season & exactly what Melbourne supporters have been waiting for. He says “it’s like Waiting for Godot”— Nicole (@pickle2401) May 22, 2016
2016 Allen Jakovich Medal votesDwayne. Godot never came. That’s the point.— Nicole (@pickle2401) May 22, 2016
Somewhere, Samuel Beckett weeps.
5 - Billy Stretch
4 - Clayton Oliver
3 - Jack Watts
2 - Christian Petracca
1 - Tomas Bugg
Top level apologies to Harmes, Hogan, Jones, Kennedy, Neal-Bullen, Vince and Viney.
Nothing for the top three, allowing Watts to close the gap and make it a top four. That's still good news for Viney who just needs to defend a lead of over two BOGs to go back to back.
In the minors Oliver pulls away from the Petracca threat in the Hilton despite Christian's first career votes, and I have to start questioning whether Stretch counts as a defender for the purposes of the Seecamp. For now I'm going to say no, but if there's some obscure stat held by Champion Data about how much time each player spends where I'd be interested in using it to make a decision - Vince isn't out of the running either.
25 - Jack Viney
14 - Max Gawn (LEADER: Jim Stynes Medal for Ruckman of the Year), Nathan Jones, Jack Watts
10 - Clayton Oliver (LEADER: Jeff Hilton Medal for Rookie of the Year)
9 - Jesse Hogan, Bernie Vince
6 - Neville Jetta (LEADER: Marcus Seecamp Medal for Defender of the Year), Billy Stretch
5 - Dom Tyson
4 - Ben Kennedy, Christian Salem
2 - Tomas Bugg, James Harmes, Matt Jones, Heritier Lumumba, Tom McDonald, Christian Petracca
1 - Dean Kent, Cameron Pedersen
To their credit the visitors made a small banner for the women's game, but having seen neither of them I'm just going to straight out assume ours won. So that was 1-0 for the day, before the main event nearly ended in a controversial draw. Ours was better designed, and well rotated but when you've got players running through the names of people who've donated shitloads of money to the club it's just a case of keeping benefactors happy. Nevertheless I thought our side did well to cover up their contractual obligations with the slogan.
Brisbane had a decent effort, and the lack of a curtain would have helped the Lions nick in for the first ever non-Anzac game tie until it was revealed that without help from our side they wouldn't have participated. After neglecting to consider the all-important question of how they'd hold the banner up without poles or ropes our side lashed together makeshift poles and deployed emergency rope to give them a hand. Other teams would probably have probably laughed in their face (especially the Sydney lot who weren't allowed to unfurl a banner at all on the Gabba a few weeks ago) but it proves that even as we're developing a list full of players with evil intentions our fans are still good eggs. 13-1-0 Melbourne for the season.
I'd have considered it a bad omen being stuck behind somebody who didn't know how to use a scanner but that's been happening ever since they introduced barcode scanned tickets. Even if they brought back the membership cards where each game was punched off manually these are the people who'd walk in carrying them backwards. While I was waiting for this gibbon to work out which way up the ticket went I noticed that you after being 'wanded' on entry you can go out and come back in the pass-out queue without them doing it again. Good luck stopping anyone doing anything with slack security measures like that.
It's no good for content but I took myself back to the wide open spaces of the Ponsford Stand after several weeks away, and with nobody within 10 rows was somehow still asked several times to pair my phone with Gillian's iPad. After rejecting several of her kind invitations I stopped responding and will probably wake up tomorrow to find my bank account fleeced of every dollar.
What about the person waving a "Christians vs Lions" banner around in the cheersquad? They'd obviously decided that even after Salem was dropped one Christian was good enough and that they weren't going to wait until our next game against Brisbane to get some use out of it. They hadn't done their research to learn that in ancient days that time honoured clash usually ended with the Lions tearing the hapless Christians to pieces. None of this was well thought out. It had nothing on "Bloods d. Crips".
There was no need for fisticuffs on the train this week, but if anybody was going to start them it was me as I enjoyed 40 minutes of conversation between two brothers who hated their sister and managed to turn every topic of conversation to their dislike of a certain side of politics. Given that they were Melbourne fans I'll give you one guess as to who they'll be backing on July 2. Which is fine, do whatever you like in the privacy of a voting booth but you can imagine what it would be like to actually know these dullards in real life. At least in most situations other than a crowded train you could walk off on them. I'm on the sister's side.
Aaron Davey Medal for Goal of the Year
There's little that I enjoy more than somebody kicking a goal over their head, so as suspect as the second quarter Garlett/Hogan floorshow was I can't go past the goal that started with Harmes missing Hogan a mile in the clear, then saw Jesse throw a Las Vegas handball to Kent. He did well to quickly palm it off to Garlett who ran away from goal before booting it. You'll have to go a long way to beat Russell Robertson in Perth or Liam Jurrah against St Kilda in the last game of 2009 for great MFC goals kicked in that fashion but it was good enough for now.
The perennial nominee fails to dislodge himself from the clubhouse lead for the goal against Richmond. His weekly prize is a night out at the Eltham Barrel with Hogan and Watts so they can sort out what the hell is going on in their respective relationships.
I can't believe it's come to the point where this can be said without snickering behind my hand but if we want to remain a realistic chance of playing finals we have to beat Port next week. The four games after are 50/50 at best (you would think no on Hawthorn and Sydney, Collingwood will probably reintroduce Cloke to kick eight against us and the Crows have a forward line that worries me greatly).
At least we're on target to stay alive until the last few weeks of the season - where we have the most up and down run home ever of (in order of perceived difficulty) Gold Coast, Carlton, Port, Hawthorn, Geelong and West Coast - the latter two away. There's still time to roll down Moorabool Street atop a Panzer Tank in Round 23 before we play for our lives.
The big question about our trip to Alice Springs is if anyone will turn up, we still haven't heard anything about an extension of the NT contract after they teased dumping us early this year and another crowd of 4000 isn't going to do much for their willingness to hand over another suitcase full of cash.
It's getting increasingly difficult to suggest ins and outs. It's not like they're going to make four changes after a 10 goal win anyway so this is all a pipedream, and if the corky suffered by The Hamburglar is fixed then I don't know what I'm going to do.
IN: Dawes, Dunn, Jetta, Tyson
OUT: Newton, O. McDonald, Michie (omit), Oliver (inj)
UNLUCKY: Newton, Salem (ok with giving him two in a row in the VFL), Pedersen (may as well give Dawes a go), Trengove (will be his poor luck to get a game again when we start playing the good teams and Grimes (playing well in the VFL and deserves another go eventually)
After one off-beat mention in The Australian in 2006 part two of my media career finally arrived on this week's Melbourne Demons podcast. How odd to be on the same marquee as a fondly remembered name like Steven Stretch. I should have put this at the top so you could read the rest of the post in the voice one reader described as not as "psychologically tormented" as expected.
'Torment' is a fantastic word, and if you want to hear it at its best sit next to me during a game. Instead of open swearing the sound of my inner turmoil bubbles over in a series of nervous tics and indecipherable noises straight from where my soul would be if I hadn't sold it on eBay to somebody from Albury for $13.50 in 2002.
A week containing more promotion by others than I've bothered to do for myself since 2005 ended appropriately with the Chris Sullivan Line scoring a wildcard mention as part of the SEN call. The madness is spreading.
Melbourne Major Projects
The Great Deepression will be a game-by-game memoir of everything since the fateful day I changed jobs in order to watch us every week at the end of 2006. Since then we've enjoyed some of the most startlingly inept on and off-field management the sport has ever seen. It's basically the #fistedforever list expanded to create the most TL:DR book in the history of our national game.
It's going to be a hefty mother, and as I'm not loopy enough to think any actual publishers would be interested in such a cartwheeling shambles of a story (but, you know, ring in if you are because formatting is doing my head in so it would be ace to have that looked after by professionals) it would be lovely if you'd pre-order before the end of the season. The first edition will be produced in extremely limited numbers and should sell for a tidy sum on the black market when I'm sued by any number of people.
Delivery should be by the first week of December at the absolute latest, making it the perfect Christmas present for the depressed Demon in your life, or supporters of other clubs who need to know no matter how badly their club is going somebody's had it worse.
Pre-order here or wait for mini-series but be prepared to cop a barrage of reminders through all formats before the season is over.
Was it worth it?
Yes indeed, you can never turn back 10 goal victories. Even during the third quarter when I was sitting in the same spot where I'd seen so many unedifying spectacles watching this game turn into another it was clear that no matter what the quality of the opposition or the play worthy of a suburban park that we have turned the corner. This time I think it's an actual corner with good things behind it, not like several times in the last decade when we've escaped from one nightmare only to find even worse lurking close behind.
As we find ourselves marooned in ninth it has been confirmed that our short-term goal of mid-table mediocrity has been achieved, and for now I'm having the second best time of my life since 2007 behind the brief period where we were the next big thing in mid-2010. Let's get through the next few weeks before we get excited about going any higher. I can wait until next year to put the brakes on the mundane and accelerate into the fast lane but the quicker we get there the better.