It turned out to be a good weekend. Winning’s never a chore but with Huddersfield and everyone else in the promotion places bar Norwich losing, some weekends are better than others.
Swapping places with Sunderland, at this moment in time, looks likely in a delicious moment of revenge for last season. Look, I know it was our fault we went down but for them to stay up in our place? It’s a pain that took a while to subside.
Overall, it was a good performance on Saturday. Gayle took his goals well, as did Clark; Shelvey was at the heart of everything good, including the three goals. His range of passing – on his day – is immense; I just wish those days were more often. So should he if his desire to earn more England caps is to become a reality.
There weren’t any bad performances as such although some were under par. We missed Matt Ritchie’s delivery. Atsu has the pace but his final ball has yet to find the consistency of the Scot. But as with Shelvey, we have to find a way of playing without becoming reliant upon any one player.
Some are obviously more important than others but reliance is unhealthy, particularly when more and more demands are made on players.
All three goals had predatory instincts about them. Clark’s run was timed to perfection whilst Gayle’s habit of being in the right place at the right time is a good one to have. It’s more than I thought he would bring to the side when he was signed. He wasn’t overly impressive at Palace last season; moments of brilliance interwoven with weeks of indifference.
Not anymore; he is in-form and on fire. If he doesn’t snare twenty goals this season, it will be a major disappointment.
And whilst the forwards and attacking midfielders get all the plaudits, some others need to be praised. Karl Darlow, for example. It must be hard for goalkeepers to keep their concentration for 90 minutes in one-sided matches such as Saturday’s. He did and produced the saves when we needed them.
The usual word of caution though. It’s as if the footballing gods are telling us not to get carried away. Brentford’s goal was sloppy, poor and conceded from another set-piece. We’ve taken 25 points out of the last 30 so mustn’t grumble too much but we need to get that problem sorted because at some point it will cost us dear.
As it happened, Saturday wasn’t that day. Barnsley tonight, another three points beckons. A quick returns beckons. Let’s take advantage of it.