With a break in league proceedings due to the current round of international fixtures, Mark Hughes has taken the opportunity to reflect on the start the side has made to the season, and is clearly of the belief that the players he has brought to the club have helped create a stronger mentality amongst the squad:
"A lot of questions that were being asked of us before a ball was even kicked. Would we gel early as a team? Would the egos in the dressing room be able to be managed? There were a number of things that kept being asked in the media and elsewhere, but I think that we have answered each and every one of them.
"We know that there’s a long way to go and we are conscious of that, but we are pleased with our start. We needed that to happen, we needed people to settle down and see what we were trying to do. I think that it’s now being realised that the people we have brought to the club have made us stronger physically, technically and mentally, which was a key thing for me.
"It was inevitable that our results would improve, and now we have to make sure that we are consistent for the whole of the season. Given the squad’s quality, I see no reason why we can’t be."
And Hughes also looked ahead to the remainder of the season:
"It’s a long old season, and it’s difficult to focus if you look at a block of 38 games. What you have to do is break them into more manageable sections, then you can focus for a certain amount of games. You can then take a look back, review and focus on the next bit.
"It’s easier to overcome a long season like that, and we do that as a matter of course. It's something I have always done that in all the jobs I have been in, and the Villa game was the end of our first phase. Our review of that has been very good, and what we have to do now is make sure is that the one ahead of us is as successful as the one we have just completed.
"We know what we are capable of, we’ve shown glimpses in games where we have been outstanding. But, I don’t think we have played for the full 90 minutes as yet. That’s exciting, because we know there is more to come."
I have been impressed with Hughes so far this season, and he is handling the raised expectation levels well, and what is clear is that the squad that has been assembled is better placed than previous versions to last the course of a long season rather than tail away by Christmas.
With Hughes talking of breaking the season into blocks, a glance at our forthcoming fixtures sees our next six games as follows; Wigan (a), Fulham (h), Birmingham (a), Burnley (h), Liverpool (a), Hull (h). These are clearly a winnable set of games and should we emerge from them with a similar return that we saw from the first six we will be extremely well placed heading into December and the next block.