1. Defeat at Southampton following a wearingly predictable theme. City looked superficialy attractive for a time without posing too many serious threats – then a soft goal was given away and defeat was unhesitatingly accepted by most of the team. Falling behind at Southampton is bad but not utterly calamitous, but there was a total lack of belief among the side that anything could be done about it. And that’s scary.
2. That lack of belief is very real, but quite bizarre. The Chelsea defeat, far from invigorating us, appears now to be a rare high point. Defeat at Swansea was rotten and inevitable, this was little better. The players have no confidence, no conviction, no apparent desire to scrap. And with everyone around us – except, perhaps, Sunderland – absolutely busting a gut to stay in the Premier League, how on earth are we supposed to have any confidence?
3. Steve Bruce’s selection on Saturday was puzzling. It didn’t feel especially courageous, and featured the never welcome sight of players out of position. Was a back four consisntely wholly of central defenders really necessary, or wise? It was defensively okay, for a bit, but when width was required later in the game meant we looked horribly one-dimensional.
4. The players and the management have coasted through this season in a deeply disagreeable fashion. The desperate desire to achieve and improve has been missing. Why couldn’t we have done what Crystal Palace or Stoke have done? Where was our incessant drive to get safe as quickly as possible, and then try to power up the table? Why have we always settled for doing just enough? The squad gives us every impression that stumbling towards 17th is enough, and always was enough. And it isn’t. We’d certainly take it now, of course. But that ought to have been the very minimum required this season, and even if we do somehow stay up, this will have been a very disappointing season.
5. What chance us staying up though? Let’s be clear about one thing – we badly want to survive. Not just because of the club’s horrifying debt, a debt that’ll be coped with better for receiving the incredible Premier League riches. But it took us a hundred years to get here, and let’s not be conceited enough to think we’ll somehow get straight back. There are plenty of clubs our size in lower divisions who probably thought their absence from the top flight would be a temporary arrangement who haven’t been there for many years now.
6. If there are any straws to be clutched at, the fact that our run-in will now largely take place at home is beneficial. They’re all testing games – and yes, Burnley is included in that, for our recent record against them is abysmal and they’re fighting admirably. But, but…hopefully some of them will have little to play for. Manchester United will probably have already secured a top four place, while both Liverpool and Arsenal will have a Cup Final ahead with no League issues at stake. And does Tottenham’s defeat on Saturday hint at a side already on the beach? And are we sounding a bit desperate here?
7. If we do go down, we’ll be a house divided. That division stems from the club’s actions, and their determination to continue provoking their own fans is as inexplicable as it is loathsome. Take the Away Supporters’ Initiative. City fans are owed the thick end of £200,000, but Assem and Ehab Allam so hate the fans that spending it on us is apparently not deemed acceptable, so the money is withheld and no-one will answer questions about it. Meanwhile, empty seats at Southampton were adorned with a cheap t-shirt that predictably failed to mention Hull City’s actual name. What would Steve Bruce prefer: seats filled with fans whose attendance was subsidised by the ASI, or crappy t-shirts that merely help to inflame an ever-worsening situation? Stop arsing about City, and hand that money over to away fans. Pocketing our money is absolutely disgraceful.
8. As usual, the business case for the Allams’ spiteful actions makes no sense. Having left it too late to spend this cash, some testing and long-distance away games are taking place with only a few hundred hardy souls cheering the side on, when there could be thousands. Quite how that helps the club in a desperate relegation battle is something we’d like to hear, though we already know it’s something way beyond Ehab Allam’s ability to explain.
9. Season ticket prices are announced today, and they’re going up again, despite last season’s huge increase. Already prized crazily highly, we grimly await the latest hike, which will of course be garrulously accompanied by comparisons to other Premier League sides, as though falling behind in the race to rip off your own fans is somehow a bad thing.
10. A written, legally watertight guarantee from the club that refunds will be given should the name change will obviously be required. But even that may not be enough to ward off a significant drop in attendances. They’ll obviously collapse if the club really is planning to increase prices even if we’re relegated (which would contradict previous information given at FWG meetings), but even if we stay up, the club’s ownership is very dimly regarded by a lot of people at present. Hiking prices again could provide the perfect excuse for many people to walk away. That fabled Allam business acumen, eh?