1. A mixed week for City. Fulham first, and that too was an affair that had its positives and negatives. The first half fizzed with energy and inventiveness, and City deserved more than a single goal. Alas, as per Huddersfield, the visitors grew into the game after the break and the Tigers accommodatingly let them – that’s something Steve Bruce really must work on, ensuring that the good work done in a first half isn’t undone by a tepid second.
2. Luckily, Sone Aluko popped up with that late winner. It was ultimately what City deserved on the night, but the game should have been dead long before it was required. Nonetheless, the side earned themselves plenty of merited praise for their efforts on Wednesday evening, and it was nice to see the nascent League table showing us in second place.
3. The best performer that night was David Meyler. Unluckily dropped at the beginning of the season, the questionable commitment of Tom Huddlestone and greenness of Isaac Hayden compelled his recall, and he didn’t disappoint. He’ll be an important player, as he’s always been since joining, and it’s bizarre that he doesn’t get anything approaching the praise he deserves.
4. No such praise for anyone following Saturday’s defeat at Charlton, from which virtually no positives can be taken. Even taking the blistering heat into account, City were dreadfully listless throughout the entire game. While not an awful side, it’s hard to imagine Charlton threatening the upper reaches of the Championship table next May, yet City made no attempt to impose themselves on the game.
5. It may be time to admit that Tom Huddlestone is never going to do it for City, principally because he isn’t awfully fussed about trying to. There’s no doubting his sublime talent, but he drifts in and out of games, lollops around half-heartedly, refuses to track back and shows little to no interest in the game when it’s not going precisely how he wants. Surely it’d be better to let Meyler (whose pedigree and application are in no doubt) and Hayden (who’ll be desperate to impress) run our midfield from now on?
6. Something similar can perhaps be said for Nikica Jelavić, whose post-relegation sulk shows little sign of abating. It’s all the more exasperating because he was one of the brighter lights in last season’s disappointing campaign, showing tenacity and skill up front despite the thin pickings on offer. It’s obvious he wants away; but he could at least earn his wages until the unbearable nightmare of playing in the second tier of English football is over.
7. Also disappointing was our defence. A free header from a cross and that epic brainstorm in the 98th minute weren’t what we expect from this back line this season.
8. On the plus side, Allan McGregor was a lot better, producing a fine one-on-one save with the game still at 1-0. He was blameless for both goals, and we can only hope his battered confidence is improving as a result.
9. Rochdale next, a freebie for pre-relegation season ticket renewers – and, if City take it seriously, the likelihood of progression into the Third Round. Steve Bruce played a surprisingly strong XI at Accrington; but with a tiring afternoon in London just behind us and yet another game on Saturday, dare he do the same?
10. He should, because progression in the cups is always extremely important and winning is a good habit – plus, losing to a lower-division side can only be embarrassing and depressing. We’d also hate to go into the Preston game on Saturday, which is a very winnable fixture, on the back of midweek defeat.