Things We Think We Think #206


1. A jolt back to reality on Friday night. After appearing invincible prior to the latest international break, City have looked decidedly mortal since it. A patchy point at Bristol City was a disappointment, but being convincingly bested by a (very good) Derby side was a real shock to the system.

2. In the long run, it may not matter much, and could even act as a timely reminder to our squad that promotion must be earned, not simply expected. This is a superb side with a generally impressive application and attitude, so there’s no reason to be unduly concerned.

3. That’s not to say that the Derby defeat didn’t contain lessons that must be learned. It did plenty of that. Firstly, playing players out of position is unwise, unless absolutely necessary. Moses Odubajo is good on the right, but looks lost on the left. Steve Bruce recognised this, albeit late, and fixed it; however, it’s an unforced error that shouldn’t have happened to begin with. Waiting until the 73rd minute to change an XI that patently wasn’t working was also a mistake, giving the substitutes eventually brought on too little time to rescue a grave situation.

4. Most of all, we need to talk about Tom Huddlestone as a replacement for David Meyler – because they’re so unmatched in style that it’s really hampering the side in midfield. Meyler has played so well this season that replacing him was always going to be difficult, even with someone possessing England caps; however, for all of Huddlestone’s languidly glorious passing, we badly miss his colleague’s tenacity in the midfield. Over-running City in the centre of the pitch is a tough ask when Meyler is snapping at heels, closing off angles and generally being a massive pain in the arse. Huddlestone is never going to do those things.

5. Which begs the question as to whether Meyler needs replacing in a different way. Huddlestone inevitably slows City down, but we’re a team that performs best at high tempo. For all that his spell at City has been underwhelming, might Isaac Hayden be more suited to standing in until Meyler is eventually fit again?

6. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Friday did contain some positive aspects. Harry Maguire was outstanding, and is playing with real confidence and authority. He’s had to be very patient, but he’s taken the chance that’s finally fallen his way and if he loses his place to anyone not called Michael Dawson, at present he could consider himself unfortunate.

7. Also impressive was Sean Maloney. It was a pity (and source of frustration) that he didn’t take the chances that came his way, but he was otherwise sharp, lively and always looking to ghost into a pocket of space to cause havoc. He looks the sort of player who could unpick a tight defence in a tight game, and therefore very good to have about.

8. What a week awaits. A historic first ever League Cup quarter final on Tuesday, away to Premier League leaders and likely champions Manchester City. So, it’s obviously going to be extremely difficult, to the point of near-impossibility That isn’t really the point; we’re in a League Cup quarter final. Let’s go there, sing, love it and not worry too much about the result.

9. Four days later, it’s Leeds away. City will start the game as solid favourites, and though it’s tempting to loftily declare this “just another league game”, the clamour for tickets (dismally unmatched by the hosts) makes it clear it’s not. Sticking one over Leeds will always be more satisfying than beating, say, Bolton – but gone was the fevered hatred of just a decade ago. They’re not another league game, but they’re not the draw they think they are either.

10. In the hours before kick-off on Friday, it emerged on Twitter that some City fans had been turfed out of N5 following apparent complaints by some about the proximity of those seats to the away fans. Frankly, that’s the main attraction of them. Being within hailing distance of the other lot carries appeal for some, and not just that tiny minority who still harbour suspect motives – football fans feed off each other, and long may that continue. But instead of offering a change of seat to those complainants, who frankly need to grow up or a grow a pair, someone took the decision to move everyone. It’s unclear whose fault that is, City’s or the SMC’s, though only informing those people affected on Friday afternoon is a terrible way to proceed. Mentioning “Hull City Tigers” in the letter didn’t help either…

9 replies
  1. Ben Burgess
    Ben Burgess says:

    Great article and hard to disagree. I am more impressed with Maguire every time I see him. It is a rare thing (and particularly at this level) to see a centre half who is so comfortable on the ball. That was the one area of Chester’s game that let him down and will prevent him from being a really good centre half – to me he never really looked that comfortable in possession. Maguire has had to wait for his chance but he deserves to keep his place and was head and shoulders above Davies (who looked very out of sorts) on Friday. For me he should be Dawson’s partner once he is back. Okay there will be a lack of pace there but they are both good enough to get away with it and read the game well enough for it not to be a problem.

  2. Chunder Monkey
    Chunder Monkey says:

    I’m not sure Chester was a ‘ball-playing centre back’. He wasn’t comically inept on the ball or anything, but his distribution was fairly limited, and he certainly didn’t have the confidence to spread the play in the same way Dawson does.

  3. Chunder Monkey
    Chunder Monkey says:

    Bollocks. It was a fine goal, but it’s not evidence that he could play the ball out of defence particularly well on a regular basis.

  4. Tony Pearson
    Tony Pearson says:

    Having just heard Brucie’s post match summing up, it appears he wasn’t as appreciative of Harry Maguire’s performance as the rest of us. Asked at the end of the interview if there was anything he could take from the performance he replied “Er – no”. Like most of the crowd who watched a below par performance, I thought Maguire’s contribution was as good as anything I have seen from a City player this season, your actual ruby in a pile of rock.

  5. Andy
    Andy says:

    Chunder Monkey has it about right for me. He had a neat touch for a centre-back, but his range of passing was fairly limited. That isn’t necessarily a criticism because that wasn’t his job, and he’s one of the finest players we’ve ever had, but he never looked particularly thrilled about having to distribute from the back.

  6. gjhdurham
    gjhdurham says:

    Don’t usually play self owned trumpets, but after the Derby defeat there seems to be a lot of discussion around issues I mentioned in TWTWT 205. Strange that SB as a centre back seems to know so little about full backs! Always thought Townsend had possibility…and so did Dudgeon, but not SB apparently. Is Townsend’s foot injury deemed long term problem like Dudgeon’s knee? As for Rosenior… Think a few of the development squad need league loan deals, as SB just ignores them Luer should have been on the bench Friday. A bit of a goal poacher in him if handled right IMO. However, the Cup game may provide a chance…soon find out. Man City have some big players out, so hope we give it a go…
    After Derby, find myself wondering if the run up to Christmas will be a big disappointment…poor points return… meaning 2/3 players will leave in Jan. Was hoping Abel would hit double figures before then, but feels like it’s all going off the boil. Hope I’m wrong…

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