1: An awful lot to ponder after a wretched, really wretched display at Brighton, where City lacked shape, consistency, ideas and, in many cases, footballing competence.
2: Steve Bruce constructed a 4-2-3-1 formation to try to get Mohamed Diamé on the ball, but it genuinely seemed like he hadn’t told the players this. Diamé was isolated in the first half, rarely finding space to exploit but even when he did, the number of touches, worthy or not, that he achieved during a distressingly one-sided affair were minimal. City were as clueless as they’ve been in recent memory during that opening 45 minutes.
3: It improved only with 20 to go, as Brighton finally decided to sit back, and while there was willingness from Ahmed Elmohamady on the right and honest endeavour up front from Abel Hernàndez, it simply didn’t ever look like City were going to score. David Stockdale, not one of our more confidence-inspiring keepers of the Caretaker Custodian years, was not stretched. He had two saves to make, both of them the type you’d expect of him.
4: Proper negative marks have to go adjacent to the names of Isaac Hayden (absolutely bypassed), Sam Clucas (not a left back at all) and especially – and this saddens us – David Meyler, who was ill-disciplined and utterly limited, to the extent that Bruce realised he needed someone capable of finding Diamé in the first place, and replaced him with Tom Huddlestone as the half hour mark ticked by and a yellow card flashed before the Irishman’s eyes. Huddlestone never gave it away (and one classic searching ball that set up the Elmohamady chance fleetingly made us wonder if he could actually be back) but City’s midfield was still more pedestrianised than King Edward Street.
5: We made Brighton look good, but then again Brighton actually are good, though not a team that look like they could walk the division. They lack a touch of star quality but boy they’re quick, they’re incisive and they work hard. Liam Rosenior played on the right wing for them. We obviously never needed him there while Elmohamady was phlegmatically refusing to be injured, but his pace, positivity and general demeanour was exactly what we could have done with, anywhere on the park.
6: It’s a pity Shaun Maloney tweaked his hamstring while playing for Scotland. His experience and professional desire to work on rather than off the ball was also something City could have done with.
7: There were 892 supporters of City who turned up, and 14 players who…. yeah, okay, telegraphed joke. Meanwhile, when the announcer revealed this news on the tannoy, we were applauded by the home fans. We’re still not sure they clapped us for making such a long trip, or for having to endure this cobblers from the players on this, or any trip. Probably a mixture of the two.
8: We offer our unconditional sympathy to the families of the two young footballers from Worthing United who were killed at Shoreham, as well as the bereaved of those others who died. However, a minute’s applause instead of silence feels inappropriate on such an explicitly sad occasion, and the ten minute tribute prior to the game afforded Brighton’s marketeers a cynical opportunity to play a DVD of their greatest (televised) moments of the last 50 years or so on their big screen while people were still committed to paying their undivided attention. This felt cheap. For all that, the tasteful memorial outside the Amex, with a five-a-side goal filled with flowers and scarves, was genuinely poignant to see.
9: Cardiff on Tuesday night. A second madly long trip in four days, but hopefully not a second madly lousy display by City. By the time we play QPR at home next weekend, it’d be nice for the players – and manager – to have got some of their mojo back. If a reliance on making the Circle a fortress is playing a big part in the ambition for the season as a whole, thereby making the away form a distant secondary issue, City are set to have their fingers burned. At some point we’re going to lose at home, and losses can often be followed by more losses. The away form proves this.
10: With the facts now known, or at least barring those redacted for their sheer sensitivity, the Jake Livermore situation sounds astonishingly bleak. The FA have shown wisdom and compassion in not punishing this desperately troubled young man; it’s hard to imagine he’ll be playing again soon in any case. His focus may be on rebuilding his life rather than his football career, and rightly so. Best of luck.