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Reasons to be Cheerful?

Has Wanderers' start to the season really been all that?

It's Gameweek 8. My football team are top of the table. They have yet to lose, have conceded only 6 goals, and are led by a manager whom has just been anointed Manager of the Month for August. This time last season, Wanderers were 17th, having won only once and scored only three goals. Unbeaten at home but very beaten away, the season would go from bad to worse. Hence why we're here.

Despite the change in fortune we have seen compared to last season, I find myself cautious, often underplaying our start to this season to anyone that will listen, a list that grows fewer by the day. I'd find something to moan about if I won the lottery, so it might be that. Is it me? Memories of the previous season? Or is it that our start to the season isn't quite what some would have you believe?

15 points from 7 games would have you second in the Championship (kudos Newcastle and newly-promoted Barnsley) or top of League Two (Plymouth). Notably, all three of those teams have been beaten more than once already this season, whereas we have not. In our division, only Bradford and Northampton can boast about an unbeaten start (though Northampton have drawn 5 of their 7 games so far). It seems difficult at this point to make the argument that our start isn't all that.
However, I'm going to try. Granted, we've avoided defeat against the two teams in this division that were marginally better than us in the Championship last season, MK Dons and Charlton. Barring a last minute Ade Lookman equaliser and a poor second half last Saturday, we could easily have taken 6 points from those two games, and would be sat on 19 points from a possible 21.

It might be early in the season, but only two of the teams we've played thus far are in the top half (Fleetwood 4th, Sheffield United 12th). Southend, a team we couldn't put to bed despite 23 efforts at goal, lost 4-0 at Scunthorpe last weekend, and were beaten 2-0 at home to a Fleetwood side that we had defeated just weeks before. Of the seven teams we've played, five have already conceded 10 or more goals. In short, we haven't been tested yet, and even then, we haven't always come out of the matches without criticism. We're the big fish in this League One pond, and we're yet to strut our stuff.

Also, the nature of the unbeaten run has had its shine taken away from it with three draws in our last three games. After winning 4 in 4, failing to win the next three has something of a deflating impact, regardless of whether we've avoided defeat or not. Saying that, 4 points from the next two games against Walsall and Bradford would have us on 19 points from a possible 27, a much more impressive stat.

What I'm hoping is actually the case is that old attitudes die hard, and it's my pessimism that's holding enthusiasm back. Us Wanderers fans have been subject to five years of relegation, play-off failure and financial ruin. Positivity doesn't come naturally to us at the minute. This Corporal Jones "we're all doomed" approach comes with the spectacular fall of our beloved football club. With a "deeds not words" approach from our manager, and clearing the decks in terms of playing staff that had lost desire to play in a Wanderers shirt, we might be turning the corner. The goods times may be calling.

Maybe there's a thrashing around the corner for Walsall or Bradford. Maybe there's a defeat on the horizon, and the end to our unbeaten run. On one hand, we were rubbish against MK Dons and didn't lose, which is something (last season, we lost even when we played well). On the other, our performances have dipped since Bristol Rovers away, where we were economical in possession, clinical up front and resolute in defence.

Whatever the result of the next two games, I feel that I'll know the reason behind this feeling of being underwhelmed. The melancholy devil on my shoulder might be saying "I told you so" to the creeping optimism, or the bunting for a promotion party might already be out. After all, we're top of the bloody league. I hope it lasts.