1: After what felt like a never-ending international break, it was so good to get back to domestic action again. But we did look rusty because of it, and a 1-1 draw at Bristol City feels like a chance missed to put some daylight between ourselves and the rest, especially after Burnley and Brighton could only draw with one another 24 hours later.
2: But it is also the spoiled, mildly churlish City fan that expects good runs of form to last until the end of time. We didn’t win, and we didn’t keep a clean sheet. But on the plus side, we didn’t lose, we came from behind and even though off-colour, we were still a better side than a limited Bristol City team that perhaps couldn’t believe their luck by the end.
3: Ahmed Elmohamady is in desperate need of a rest. He isn’t sharp, his crossing is failing and his general energy is almost entirely absent. But we have only Moses Odubajo as cover on the right side of midfield, and he in turn would leave a gap at right back for which there is no like-for-like, only curable by switching to 3-5-2 again.
4: And a 3-5-2 is out of the question now that Michael Dawson is absent with a combination of suspension (one match) and a hamstring injury (probably more than one match). We have three fit centre backs only, so the idea of shoving all three in together where they can all be vulnerable constitutes desperation and madness.
5: A re-ordering of things will also be necessary on the left, with Andy Robertson missing out. His combination with Sam Clucas has been a joy to watch in recent weeks, and its interruption – only for a single game – will be a loss for City.
6: It’s such a shame that David Meyler is now out until the New Year with a knee injury picked up while training with his national squad. He missed playing an active part in the Irish celebrations at qualifying with ease for the Euros next summer, and is now unavailable to continue his excellent form, noticed at last by his detractors among the City faithful, in our midfield. Injuries happen but in this case, the timing really does stink.
7: Replacing him with Tom Huddlestone isn’t exactly like-for-like, and that manifested itself at Ashton Gate. Huddlestone has his own qualities, but they’re quite different to David Meyler’s. Might Steve Bruce judge that Isaac Hayden is a better replacement for him for the remainder of 2015? His loan spell so far has been disappointing, but he’s sure to bring greater urgency to the midfield than Huddlestone.
8: Derby next, Friday night in the cold of the KC. They’re all biggies. This one certainly is though, by dint of their one defeat in ten matches, putting them just two behind us. They hardly need incentives, it seems, but going top of the table with victory at ours will provide a massive one anyway. City will need to be at their best, just as they were when the previous big threat in the colours of Middlesbrough pitched up at the KC and we soon pulled their pegs out.
9: It’ll cost £35 to go see City at Leeds – or, specifically, for “an upper tier seat beyond the corner flag at a crumbling racist-infested Wessie shithole”, as one of our number decreed it on social media not so long back. One day Leeds United will have to accept that they don’t have the glamour, prestige, status or importance to justify prices that border on the criminal. Manchester City are charging us £20 less for a far more important game, and they have relevance, international repute, quality, recent honours, all that.
10: What did we think of the third kit now we’ve seen City actually wear it? Meh. We’ve had better ones…