1. It’s hard to know what to make of the current quietness in the transfer market. Few, if any, of the players trailed in the press strike us as plausible signings. Our needs are obvious – a striker, or at least players to remedy our woeful record in front of goal. But our resources, limited even without the complication of our over-spending causing possible Financial Fair Play ramifications, don’t easily lend themselves to big signings.
2. One such big signing is, or would be, Aaron Lennon. But several million quid? On a winger? Now? It doesn’t feel right. There’s no doubt he’s a good player who’d improve the quality of our side. But do we need him? Can we afford him? And so on.
3. Of course, the problem, with a big signing right now is the prospect of re-sale if City go down. Dropping down a division means that Premier League quality players will want to leave, and the reduced status of the selling club makes extracting a high price from potential suitors a difficult task. There are big risks attached to spending significant sums on players at a time when relegation is a serious possibility.
4. On the flip side, there are also risks to inaction. City’s continuing lack of form and extensive injury concerns make doing nothing before the end of January unlikely. If only to freshen things up and ensure we have enough fit bodies to fill a squad until the injury situation eases, a couple of arrivals seem a sensible course of action. But please don’t panic or over-spend, City…
5. Newcastle next. The time for “taking a point” is gone. City have to win this game, and every part of Steve Bruce’s preparation’s this week must be geared towards ensuring we score the goals required for victory. That isn’t a task we’d fancy, because our present predicament is an ugly one. Perhaps his major task is just to restore the side’s confidence.
6. At least we’re not up against one of the division’s real powerhouses, or a side in form themselves. City have proven themselves to be reliable friends to teams in need this season, so it would hardly be a surprise to see another cheap three points handed over to struggling opposition; but we’d still rather have erratic Newcastle at home over, say, Arsenal away.
7. Newcastle, and then Manchester City away, form part of a reasonable run of fixtures. Villa at home, QPR at home, Stoke away, Sunderland at home – save for the champions, all of those are winnable. A burst of form now could propel us several places clear of danger. Failure to capitalise, however…
8. Mike Phelan seems a fine choice of assistant manager to replace Steve Agnew. There are never any guarantees, but his CV is one filled with coaching success and he has been a team-mate of the manager twice during their playing days - let’s hope Steve Bruce is successful in luring him to Hull.
9. It’s a clever and imaginative move on the part of Ehab Allam to stage an Under 21s game at the Circle immediately after the Newcastle match. Perhaps, in an ideal world (and with a 3pm kick-off) it’d be preferable to have the juniors as the curtain-raiser to the main event, thus guaranteeing at least some sort of audience for the lads – if City’s senior side lose then our appetite for more football could be significantly diminished. It could also be a tad dispiriting for the youngsters if scores of people depart the stadium while they’re actually playing. However, you suspect that Steve Bruce wouldn’t sanction a game on the pitch immediately before his charges take to the field, so maybe reversing the order could never be possible. Nonetheless, it’s a good idea and we’ll be interested to see how it goes.
10. This is our final TWTWT before February, the month in which the FA will tell Assem Allam no. Again. There’s still a little time for him to halt the madness of his own accord, for which he gain at least moderate respect – or be rejected again, and humiliated. His call.