1: We’ll do the Burnley performance first, and then its grisly consequences. They froze. When confronted with both the most important and most winnable fixture of the entire season, almost every single City player froze with fear. Gone was the swashbuckling display at Crystal Palace or the tenacious overcoming of Liverpool, replaced with a feeble, terrified, abject offering.
2. We must sadly conclude that our failure this season is caused by mental weakness. On paper – where football is obviously not played – we possess a squad patently capable of having secured safety weeks ago and able to possess loftier goals than mere survival anyway. But repeatedly this season, in big games, or winnable home fixtures, or tricky away fixtures, the side has collectively failed to show up. Are the players bottlers? Is the manager incapable of motivating them? Barring a miracle (about which more shortly), we’re going to spend a long, unhappy summer of recriminations, which are sure to focus on the pitifully soft nature of our side.
2a. That MOTD graphic showing that we’d outspent the 6 other sides that constitute the bottom 7 was grim reading wasn’t it? A reminder too, that you can buy talent and potential, but not heart and pride.
3. Barely any of the side who slunk from the field on Saturday escaped without a severe dent to their reputation. Quinn was busy, though in a midfield that also contained the idle Huddlestone and the hopeless Livermore, he could scarcely have looked poor. Jelavić looked full of running when he came on, if patently unfit. And that’s about it. What a rotten time for almost everyone to completely fail to turn up.
4. At the moment, we aren’t terribly interested in excuses. All sides get injuries. Everyone benefits and suffers from patchy refereeing. Sunderland’s brace of deflating deflections earlier on Saturday afternoon cannot mask a season of underachievement. And so on. At this stage of the season, the table doesn’t lie.
5. Of course, there’s still scope for the table to be adjusted in our favour – but that is going to require something we frankly don’t think our side is capable of. Tottenham may be mentally on the beach by now, but that seems of little immediate use when our side is in the equally unhappy situation of cowering in a corner. Meanwhile, there’s not much to suggest that even a Manchester United side with little to play for won’t overpower us on the final day. We probably have to win both of those games, though a win and a draw might just see us collapse over the line if other teams have an accommodating disaster of their own. However, the bookies’ price of 1/3 on City to go down doesn’t feel especially unfair right now.
6. And then what? The club has promised (stop laughing) that a review of prices will follow relegation. But can you seriously imagine Assem Allam doing anything remotely supporter-friendly? Armed with the knowledge that four extra fixtures will be played, he’ll probably think prices should go up. Meanwhile, few will renew until relegation is confirmed or miraculously avoided; at which point, those who covet the Premier League will decide to spend their £500+ on something else, leaving only a disaffected and embittered hardcore that the club is in any case doing its best to drive away.
7. Who’ll go? Who’ll stay? It turns the stomach a little to think of indolent millionaires skipping away from the club towards the latest fat contract without a single backward glance, but the avaricious nature of the game makes that inevitable.
8. However, we still have two games left to go before that all unfolds. A quirk of the fixtures means that City can’t actually be relegated at White Hart Lane, though another significant stride towards the Championship can be made. That means no-one will have the opportunity to make themselves look silly on the television by affecting distressed tears next weekend.
9. How would relegation impact upon Assem Allam’s idiotic attempts to change the club’s name? He’s said before that it’d be pointless in the Championship, as though it was somehow a fabulous wheeze in the Premier League, but then he’s said a lot of things before and his word is a currency possessing minimal value.
10. Hull Tigers v MK Dons next season. Try to imagine that without wanting to vomit.