1. We always feared that City would go out of the League Cup weakly and disappointingly, but they almost transcended the City teams of the past on Wednesday night in the way they so blatantly and criminally failed to progress. To be 2-1 up with three minutes to go and still lose, without extra-time being required, was some going even for City.
2. It bruises us to make comments like the above, because more than ever do we want the club, the team and the coaching staff to take the competition seriously. The number of changes to the team and the resultant snatching of defeat, even allowing for its dramatic appearance from the jaws of victory, once again suggests a lackadaisical or casual attitude to any football competition which does not involve the Premier League. To us, the cup competitions represent something we can win, something we can enjoy, something we can nurture, something we can put permanently into our history. That’s twice now that this has been tossed away by club policy and decision-making that puts finishing mid-table in an unwinnable and often unlikeable league ahead of actual glory as a direct consequence of winning football matches.
3. West Bromwich Albion are now going to Bournemouth for a place in the quarter finals. Their fans will have a top night out, their team will probably win – especially as their manager is fighting to prove himself and may see a League Cup run as something to enhance his prospects – and then they’re in the quarter finals. Or alternatively, Bournemouth will be in the quarter finals. That’s Bournemouth. Not City.
4. And given that the Premier League champions were our next visitors, there seemed little sense in removing the momentum from a couple of entertaining and high-scoring, if winless, matches against West Ham and Newcastle by altering the entire team. Manchester City should have been regarded as a free hit and the team Steve Bruce picked should have been motivated to have a pop at them whatever the scenario.
5. While still a defeat, the Man C game waas a little more heartening. City turned around a seemingly hopeless situation in the first half, admittedly aided by an own goal and a penalty, but their recovery reminded us that we are a team with heart and ability.
6. Nikica Jelavić has starred in recent weeks, and seems to be relishing the opportunity to be City’s senior striker. Far from being lost without his intended partner-in-crime Shane Long, he’s flourished of late. His darting runs and work off the ball are a delight to watch, and the addition of goals to his formidable skills make him a serious player at this level.
7. Defensively, how long before Steve Bruce changes things – and to what? Will he go back to 3-5-2 in order to accommodate James Chester back in the side and re-establish the formation we’ve always looked more secure with? Dare he drop England international Michael Dawson? Questions with no obvious answer, but the more the Goals Against tally rises the more pressing they’ll become.
8. We aren’t overburdened with points at the moment, even if the entertainment level is agreeably high. Crystal Palace at home next week is a game we could really do to win, particularly with some fearfully difficult games approaching.
8a. It’d be nice if the score and the time weren’t removed from the scoreboard in the 18th minute as well.
9. There’s been no shortage of complaints about the pricing of the Man C fixture. £50 only makes sense if you’re seeking to extract every possible penny from City fans – and in fairness, there’ll be those at the club whose job that is. But it results in empty seats (bad for the team), is obviously bad for the fans (either ruthlessly fleeced or priced out) and means that City are not representing the community as a whole. It’s a pity because the club has been rightly praised for lowering some matchday prices to just £16, but this simply undoes all of that. Have another think about it, City. For the club’s sake as much as us, because once people are priced out of going they may lose the match-attending habit altogether. And no-one wins if that happens.
10. Assem Allam’s done an interview for Football Focus next Saturday. Our commiserations to those at the club who’ll have to clean up the resulting mess.