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Dunne targets European qualification

New captain Richard Dunne has targeted European qualification from this season:

"Hopefully I will be captain of a successful team. Maybe we can start picking up and qualifying for Europe. That would be a good start.
It's going to be tough again. We have signed a few good players and I feel this year we have got a stronger squad than last year.
We petered out towards the end of last season and, hopefully, with a stronger squad we can carry it on a bit longer this year."

It is admirable that Dunne is showing this ambition, and I think he will make a more effective captain than Distin (although he Distin did improve on his first season in the role to be fair), but I feel that Europe is perhaps stretching ambition a little too far for this season.

Although the pessimism of the end of last season has diminished somewhat with the addition of players over the summer - in particular in the problem midfield area, I can't realistically see qualification being achieved this season.

Bearing in mind the top five spots in the Premiership seem to be locked up, it only leaves one or two league places maximum up for grabs which whilst we are certainly in competition with other sides for, we haven't generally shown the consistency in recent times required to nail one of the places.

Countering this though, I'm sure that the meltdown at the end of last season won't be repeated, and a top ten finish (at least) should be expected. Also, the value of a strong start shouldn't be underestimated and looking at what the likes of Bolton and Wigan have achieved in the past couple of seasons shows that a good start can provide the momentum and confidence needed to make a sustained challenge at the very least.