1. An odd afternoon in Sheffield on Saturday. Steve Bruce went for the same XI that won handsomely at Nottingham Forest a fortnight earlier, deploying them in the same slightly unusual way. It didn’t get close to working this time around, and in the first half City were alarmingly creaky at the back and decidedly unthreatening up front.
2. Seeing Dawson and Davies being dictated to was surprising and just a little bit frightening, and there was always the feeling that they just didn’t have enough assistance. Meanwhile, the Tigers looked good on the ball until they encountered Sheffield Wednesday’s back line, upon which our efforts to breach it rather tamely petered out. At half-time, it didn’t feel awfully promising.
3. Credit to City for turning it around so emphatically. Steve Bruce’s decision to withdraw one of his faltering midfield came in the 50th minute, and was therefore probably five minutes late; but its impact was considerable. We immediately looked more threatening, and when we equalised it felt as though there’d only be one winner. The longer the match went on the better City played.
4. A point wasn’t a disaster though, and given the dire first half you’d struggle to assemble a convincing argument saying we deserved too much more. It keeps City in touch with the top, represents a useful return of four points from two away games and the much improved second half performance ought to keep confidence levels high. Just one thing…Steve Bruce often seems to need to drastically change his Plan A. Fair enough, he has a good record of doing so, but maybe we could try getting this right from the start?
5. An afternoon to forget for referee Mr Stroud though. He missed plenty, including two instances where an Owl could’ve been dismissed for assailing Abel Hernández, had a sadly lacking comprehension of the handball law and ended up limping off when clobbered by Chuba Akpom. Oops.
6. Two home matches now await City, Ipswich on Tuesday and Birmingham on Saturday. It’s only natural to want to attach a target for these two matches, even though Steve Bruce will say he’s taking one at a time (and is probably right to do so). Nonetheless, anything fewer than four points would be a pity.
7. The club’s newly filed accounts are interesting, but contain no real surprises. Turnover was massive in the Premier League, as was wage expenditure. The Allam family have overseen another rise in the club’s debt, which very conveniently creates debt interest payments to, err, themselves – and now stands at over £77m. It’s a quite horrifying figure.
8. City’s pricing policy was much discussed last week, as a cost of football survey unsurprisingly revealed that the lowest price you can pay for an adult season ticket here is higher than anywhere in the Championship, and quite a few in the Premier League too. We’ve long thought that City’s price hike in the summer was motivated as much by spite than any pressing financial need, but the consequences have been predictable: significantly lower gates and continued ill-will towards those running the club.
8a. The club has no real counter argument to it either, demonstrated by the unconvincing response made on local radio by a club spokesman – excusing the colossal cost by saying it was decided upon in the Premier League and couldn’t be mitigated upon relegation is obviously silly (ever heard of refunds?) and that three Cup games were given free doesn’t come close to washing. As we repeatedly try to point out, this isn’t just about fans wanting to save a few pounds or get a decent product in good quality surroundings on the cheap, there are grave long-term consequences to this folly. Football in this country is eating itself in a way that future historians are going to find impossible to believe. What madness is it to invest so much effort into attracting new fans, only to wilfully drive so many away through cost?
8b. The radio interview alluded to above did, however, contain the snippet that City are “looking at doing something” for next season. We’ve heard this sort of thing plenty of times before, of course – and it’s now seven months since the last meeting of the Fans’ Working Group, so the club’s interest in meaningful discussion is clearly negligible. We won’t hold our breath.
9. Apropos of pricing, Milton Keynes are letting City fans in for £12 in a couple of weeks. We hate to ever praise Milton Keynes Dons…so we won’t start now.
10. News that the QPR away game has been brought forward to New Years Day is rather dispiriting if you’ve already bought rail tickets for the original date of January 2nd. We understand Sky Sports’ desire to show the Tigers, after all we’re bloody brilliant (usually), but wouldn’t it be great if the television companies could arrange their fixtures before the 12-week booking period begins – and given that it’s now virtually impossible to get home from London on the railways after this 5.30pm kick-off, just imagine how much good the television companies could do for their image if they liaised with the train companies to put on extra trains at cost when their meddling with the fixtures causes such inconvenience? With a little imagination, they actually could make themselves the good guys.