On Saturday October 13th, Bournemouth beat Leyton Orient 2-0 and it marked their first home win of the season. That afternoon also happened to be Eddie Howe's first match back in charge of the Cherries having just quit Burnley, and since that day, the south coast club have won 11 and drawn three of their next 14 matches.
How impressive is that?
They say that in football you should never go back but Eddie Howe refused to listen to that tired old adage and credit to him for taking such a brave step. He just seems to have a love affair with the place, and even though most observers could see Bournemouth didn't have a poor side when he re-joined them, no one would have predicted the level of response he'd be able to extract from his players.
Striker Lewis Grabban is someone who has enjoyed a new lease of life under Howe. Prior to that victory against the O's in mid-October, he'd scored just once since making a £300,000 move from Rotherham United in the summer, and unhappy Cherries fans weren't convinced he was going to be able to cut it. They feared he'd be a big money flop. Now, and with Howe giving him an extended run in the team, Grabban has 10 goals to his name including seven from his last seven games.
As a former striker myself, I know how important it is to feel loved. If you know your manager has faith in you, it makes an incredible difference and it looks like Eddie Howe and Lewis Grabban are very good for one another at the moment. At their current rate of progress, Bournemouth will be nailed on contenders for promotion, and they may not even need to go up via the Play-Offs such is the momentum they're building.
Coventry City are another club enjoying fine form of late, but the future of David McGoldrick - a player I discussed last week - holds the key to their short term success. He has 18 goals this season, but his loan spell with the Sky Blues expires on New Year's Day.
Sadly I feel Nottingham Forest's decision to hire a new manager doesn't bode well for Coventry's chances of hanging on to David McGoldrick. I hope I'm not speaking out of place here but if I were in Alex McLeish's shoes and saw his record this season, the first thing I'd do is recall him to the City Ground. You would, wouldn't you?
I hope for Coventry's sake that it doesn't happen. He's become such an influential player for Mark Robins that you fear their chances of mounting a promotion assault are hinging on what happens to McGoldrick. It's near on impossible to fill the void left by a striker that's bagged so many goals before the turn of the year.
That's the problem with the loan system. It feels fantastic to get a signing right, but if they do too well you always run the risk of losing them early. Mark Robins will already be contemplating a plan B, should Forest want their man back, I'm sure.
On the pitch we're smack bang in the middle of the most important period of the season so far, and I'm intrigued to discover who will come out of this hectic schedule in the best shape.
Even though three matches in a short space of time is probably tough enough, I was personally sad to see so many pre-Christmas games called off because of waterlogged pitches. That extra breather might end up providing those teams who enjoyed a day off on December 23rd, a slight advantage this week. Leyton Orient also had Boxing Day off too, so they should be feeling lovely and fresh.
Flash floods happen and sometimes you just can't do anything about the weather, but these days I think we all expect the pitches to playable. They are looked after a million times better compared to my playing days, so I am always shocked to hear of a match that's been called off.
The fixtures computer handed the majority of clubs two home games, or two away games on the 26th and 29th and I know which way round I'd have preferred. With less travelling required and the opportunity to snatch six quickfire points on home turf, I believe those teams who have back-to-back home games at Christmas hold the slight advantage.
Last word this week goes to Walsall though, who after having Christmas Day off, produced a stunning 4-2 success at Milton Keynes Dons to reward their managers' trust in them.
The psychology of giving your players a surprise day off with the family can, and often does, work wonders. Well played Dean Smith.