1. What a delight the Tigers were on Saturday. The same pleasing brand of football last season was evident, but there was greater steel and purpose to it. One game doesn’t make a season, but it can certainly alter the mood. City’s fizzing display against Bolton has definitely done that.
2. It’s always a nice bonus to win the game before an international break too. City now have two weeks to enjoy the memories of an extremely impressive victory, and you’d imagine the camp is a happy one as a consequence.
3. 5-3-2, then. It’s not something fans tend to clamour for, but whether by accident or design Steve Bruce has probably got the personnel for it. Elmohamady was outstanding on the wing, tracking back impressively to help out, while Dudgeon evidently enjoys the freedom to go up. It also means Koren needn’t be pushed out wide, where his talents are slightly wasted. Saturday’s towering display means we’ll probably see this formation a lot more in the coming weeks and month, and if it can yield performances and victories like that, 5-3-2 will do us very nicely.
4. What now for Liam Rosenior and Andy Dawson? Two ever-presents in 2012 until yesterday, they don’t look suited for a 5-3-2. That’s hard on both, who were excellent last season – however, promotion pushes occasionally need ruthless decisions making. Steve Bruce looks like he’s capable of making such calls, as Nick Proschwitz also found out on Saturday.
5. Suddenly, City seem to have a real squad. Look at the subs’ bench two days ago – most of those would get into most clubs’ starting elevens every week. When you can bring on someone like Corry Evans, you know we’re equipped for a long hard winter.
6. One more player to enthuse over: Ben Amos. He’s decisive, and not afraid to punch the ball if he feels it the best option. Far better to punch it thirty yards clear and give your defence the chance to set itself again than attempt an awkward catch that drops at a forward’s feet.
7. The gate may have been another low one on Saturday, but the City fans played their part too. When Bolton took an undeserved lead the response in the stands was impressive. Positivity and noise abounded – maybe a recognition that City were playing well and needed encouragement rather than scorn, but it’s not often the perma-subdued Circle crowd can be said to have made a real difference to a game.
8. The decision to let Cameron Stewart go on loan to Burnley seems a fair one. If 5-3-2 is City’s intended formation for the time being, it’s hard to see how he fits into the side. A few starts in Lancashire and a change of scenery may be just what he needs. It’s a big few months for the player. He’s got huge potential, but he needs to begin really applying it, lest he become just another ex-Man Utd starlet who sank into the lower leagues.
9. Why is it taking so long to get in with the new season card system? Is it really a lengthier process to place a piece of plastic underneath a scanner than to tear a piece of paper from a booklet? It’s baffling.
10. Referees will always be inconsistent, and complaining about that very human failing is a total waste of time. Nonetheless, it was interesting to see Mr Steve Rushton sending off Barnsley’s Bobby Hassell for a two-footed challenge yesterday. He got that decision completely correct. A pity he missed a more obvious one four days earlier.