1: Strange game against Newcastle United, kind of Cardiff in reverse. They were impressive on the break and also at sponging up possession, mind, and it’s worth giving them some kudos for the way they played. Alan Pardew’s unhinged moment on the touchline means no-one else has noticed how indifferently we played, so maybe we should brush it aside as well.
2: The wing back system works sometimes, and not others. But when Liam Rosenior is on the pitch we at least have the opportunity to go from 3-5-2 to 4-4-2 if the situation demands, and that felt like the case against Newcastle, especially as Ahmed Elmohamady was getting little change out of the visitors and had nobody to overlap him in support.
3: Shane Long’s lethargy was a surprise. Firstly because he has energy to burn but for some reason couldn’t/didn’t do so; and secondly he has a two-week break now because he’s not allowed to play in the FA Cup quarter final. Among many performances of individual disappointment, his was most striking as we’ve only so far been used to very high calibre, high tempo displays from him since he joined.
4: Right, the Pardew incident. Some of us find it hard to get worked up about it as the faux-outrage from airheaded dullards like Robbie Savage take the attention completely – the day when Robbie Savage is able to lecture anyone about what’s morally right and wrong during a football match is the day we cancel our involvement in the game completely – but it is clear that Pardew, though intelligent, has a screw loose on occasions and can be a deeply unpleasant individual. He was vile towards Manuel Pellegrini earlier this season and can now add violence towards opposing players to his previous convictions for using extreme language towards opposing managers (as well as minor violence towards both managers and officials). The bloke, by his own apparent admission, needs to have a word with himself. His internal punishment is already known (and substantial) and he is very fortunate to still be in a job.
5: One issue, however: why was he allowed to stay in the ground? He wasn’t partaking in the game, therefore his act of violence amounted to the same as if a spectator had committed it (on anyone, let alone a player). He shouldn’t have been kicked out of the dugout, he should have been kicked out of the ground and a steward, or police officer, should have been as involved in his ejection as the referee, who was only entitled to send him from the technical area. Whatever the offence, being sent from the dugout is hardly scrubbing painted coal until it’s black again, is it? He can watch the game still and use a walkie-talkie to communicate with his colleagues (and a higher vantage point might give him a better view of things too, hence why some managers are up there all the time). The punishment meted out by his employers and the footballing authorities will damage his pocket and his professional reputation, but if he’d been treated like any other non-playing person shoving his head into another person, his personal reputation would have suffered much more.
6: Why David Meyler was booked within that incident is anyone’s guess. Or, in another incident, Nikica Jelavić. But aside from the players themselves, nobody else will even ask the question now. Certainly cautioning one player for being nutted by an unhinged opposing manager and another for lawfully charging down a goalkeeper’s clearance seems odd, but it’s unlikely anyone else is going to care.
7: Right, let’s raise the roof this coming Sunday. We have an undistinguished record in the FA Cup to the extent that it’s not just 90 minutes from Wembley that we face, but 90 minutes from only a second ever semi-final, and few City fans of 1930 will be around today. It’s a once-in-several-generations chance to equal, and possibly better, some club history.
8: We don’t have cause to praise the club very often at the moment, because they tend not to do praiseworthy things; but the pricing for the FA Cup games this season warrant a tip of the cap. £20 to watch an FA Cup quarter final is a very fair price, and probably less than some Third Division games this weekend. Well done City (and Sunderland).
9: We are going to sell this game out…right? It’d be acutely embarrassing to feature in such a prestigious game, surely the most important of our season so far, and there be empty seats.
10: Stewarding at City – on Monday night, a couple of overexcited young lads run on the pitch at full time, are immediately surrounded by stewards and carted out. Whether that’s harsh or not, there are rules and the stewards are entitled to enforce them. So why were so many Newcastle fans left alone for the whole of Saturday’s game? It’s double-standards, and it’s wrong.