Things We Think We Think #209


1. Reading first. If only to keep us from having to face the awfulness of Rotherham. Not that this was quite the perfect display. City put in a typically torpid first half showing and deservedly trailed at the break. It’s maddening to see this gifted side repeatedly decline the chance to seize the initiative, granting it instead to lesser sides who then overcome City with superior application and confidence born from unexpectedly matching us. It has to stop.

2. Credit does go to the manager and his side for the recovery, however. 1-0 down in a Sky fixture is a deeply unpromising position, but the second half was immeasurably improved and while the winner was late (and lucky), City deserve plenty of praise for rescuing the situation. Bruce’s substitutions were unorthodox but effective, and we left feeling that the slide of recent times had been corrected.

3. Oh dear. The debacle at Rotherham followed an unhappily similar pattern to the Leeds fiasco – slow, slovenly football coupled with an unmerited superiority complex followed by a very sharp shock with a couple of opposition goals. Rotherham were an obviously limited side, but their commitment was total. It’s to the City XI’s lasting shame that they didn’t come close to matching it.

4. The defence creaked. The midfield lumbered (and that’s without Tom Huddlestone). The wings provided limited ammunition, and what there was the attack ineptly spurned anyway. It’s rare to see a game with no-one emerge with some credit, but that was the case on Saturday.

5. Chuba Akpom’s had a horrible week. Wearing gloves is bad enough, petulantly throwing them to the ground in response to being substituted is worse, but standing motionlessly when a through-ball is yours to chase and a defender is helpfully playing you onside is inexplicable. He’d already struck the post twice and failed to make a pass to Hernández that’d have provided a goal. By the end it was hard not to feel sorry for him. He’s young, evidently very immature and there’s no hiding place any more. But his attitude and execution have got to improve, immediately.

6. The same applies to Ahmed Elmohamady, who doesn’t have the excuse of being a teenager. If he put as much effort into playing football as he does with the stroppy gesticulations he’d be about the best wide player in the division; instead, he’s sulking his way through games, presumably waiting for January to rescue him from the utter hell of having to play in the Championship. Increasingly, it’s hard not to conclude that he won’t be missed if he does depart.

7. Steve Bruce has some interesting issues to deal with in the coming weeks. Should we cash in on Davies, with whom his relationship is apparently still fractious? Can we get a few million pounds for the underperforming Huddlestone and/or Elmohamady to invest in a new forward? How to get this lavishly talented side to stop coughing up crummy defeats to lesser sides? How to play well in a first half. Unless and until he gets those things right, there’ll still be a few grumbles about his position. It’d be a poor decision to replace him, for a variety of reasons: City are very much in a promotion race whose outcome cannot be guessed at, there are no plausible alternatives that’d definitely be better, and we find it hard to place much faith in the Allams’ ability to get this sort of decision right. So, in Bruce we must trust. Meanwhile – whisper it quietly – but our demands and expectations a little unrealistically high…?

8. The club has acted quickly upon its promise to survey City fans about their preferred matchday entertainment. Why this is even necessary is never really clear, as the football ought to provide the entertainment; if you want crap pop music or cheerleaders, that’s what nightclubs and American sports are for. But no matter. The survey looks straightforward enough, and barring a repeat of the club’s infamous name change poll, ought to decisively settle the matter of goal music.

9. Burnley next, aiming for their 741st straight victory against City. Gah. Let’s not think about it for now.

10. From us all at AN, a very Merry Christmas. And be sure to listen to our next podcast, recorded this evening and available tomorrow. We’ve a guest who’ll hopefully have loads of fun stuff to tell us about…

15 replies
  1. Cumbrian Tiger
    Cumbrian Tiger says:

    As always, TWTWT is the first read of a Monday morning. Thanks for all the comments, thoughts and reflections each week – most of which I agree with.
    Elmo has been a great servant to the club, his celebration dance on the last promotion making it to the MOTD titles, but he is lacklustre at the moment. With the injuries in the team is there not enough competition for places?
    What do we need in the January window? I would suggest we still need a 20 goals a season striker, we need a midfield distributor of the ball and we need to unload ( and cash in on the fading talents of those who have had their day and/or have been given their chances but really haven’t delivered – Akpom, Aluko, Huddleston, Davies (maybe) and Hayden – then some new faces and some fresh enthusiasm. With Dawson out for the Reading game I wondered who we should have in his place – and there he was, leading out the Reading team, Paul McShane!
    Onwards and upwards – all the top six teams will have a dip in form at some point in the season so let’s get ours out of the way.
    Many thanks and have a very Merry Christmas and raise a glass to AN!

  2. Chunder Monkey
    Chunder Monkey says:

    7) I don’t think our expectations are too high. Looking at the squad Bruce has got, we should be doing much, much better than we are. I don’t think it’s the results that are worrying people so much; it’s the insipid performances. Personally, I can live with City’s players being a bit shit on any given day, but being outfought by two of the shitter teams in the league is unacceptable.

    Bruce has seriously underperformed for a couple of years now. His summer transfer activity was odd for the last two seasons, splitting an excellent front two with no replacement in mind, and bringing in players without seemingly having a clear idea of how he was going to fit them into a team, or an overall idea of how he wants his team to play. It’s Christmas, and he still doesn’t know what his best team is, keeps playing people out of position. He should have been sacked in May as soon as he gave that interview questioning his own desire to do the job in the Championship.

    I agree though, at this stage letting him go wouldn’t be helpful.

  3. Richard pearson
    Richard pearson says:

    Always the best analysis of City, so a very happy Christmas and thanks.
    Rotherham, Leeds and next up Burnley – it’s grim! One wonders if there is something psychological in the mindset of our team. So much talent and results to match until the crash at Leeds. I agree that some weeding is needed. Maybe one or two waiting in the wings might have a chance. They wait and watch. Akpom and Aluko are massive disappointments – the former raw and inexperienced, the latter just a shadow of what we used to see. I pray we will turn the corner soon as we cannot expect everything to revolve round Dawson, great as he is. Oh, and let’s leave the manager to manage – he knows more about it than we do and has the CV to prove it. In Bruce I trust.

  4. Martin Wyvill
    Martin Wyvill says:

    I travel from London to every game home and away. As such, I frequently get to the ground early and watch the pre-match warm up’s which include shooting practice. A ball is fed into a player unopposed who then can take as many touches his he wants before shooting. Of the 80 odd shots taken, only 10 were on target, and only five goals were scored. This is typical of City pre-match shoot in, week in week out. I watch it every week. Some of the players just laugh when they shoot five yards over the bar. If we can’t score goals unopposed, how on earth do we expect to score them with defenders in the way? What do these players do during training? Do they actually practice shooting and if they do, why are they so bad?
    How many stunning strikes have you seen us score goals from this season? How many scrappy tap in’s have you see the score? Too few of the former and too many of the latter.
    Now let’s talk about open play. Watch any decent side playing against us and they are making runs off the ball all the time. Teammates know when and where these runs are going to be made and play the ball accordingly often resulting in an opposition goal. When was the last time you saw city regularly making these sort of pro-active runs? When they beat Middlesbrough, Brentford and MK Dons. We are re-active, starting our runs (if we feel like it) after the ball has been played and allowing the defender to read the pass and nullify it. Since Middlesbrough, it’s been the boring play at 50% pace (or slower 1st half against Reading), one pass forward, two passes back and one pass sideways utter crap, always happy to make one pass or one touch too many. I stand above the North stand goal and can see gaps appearing in play. When the opposition see a gap, they never hesitate to shoot. When we see a gap, we pass the ball to someone else. Not surprising really is it when you read my comments above about pre-match shooting practice!
    I sometimes wonder what Steve Bruce and his technical staff do with them week in week out.
    On a Saturday, I leave home at 9:30 AM and get back at 11 PM. On a weekday, I have to stay overnight. It costs me anywhere between £100 and £150 to attend a match. It saddens me to say, that I am beginning to ask whether it is worth it or not. Sad really isn’t it?
    All I ask for is some real effort and application. Surely that’s not too much to ask for from your team is it?

  5. John from Brid
    John from Brid says:

    The sentiments above both in review and comments reflect the current Hull City team very well, all I can add is the players media comments. Last season we had players lining up one after the other telling us how good Hull City Football club were, one even stated the following ” there are 10 teams that could be relegated but Hull City are not one of them “, well we all know where that kind of talk took the team. This season we have players saying we haven’t seen the best of City after beating Boro easily, since the slump other players saying we know we don’t start quick enough and other comments, but then play the next game with same lack of application. The best thing Steve Bruce could do is tell his players to keep quiet about what they can and can’t do, because as soon as they do it all goes wrong.

  6. Cayman Tiger
    Cayman Tiger says:

    @ Richard – Allam has a CV as well you know.
    @ Number 7 – no our expectations are definitely not too high – are you kidding?
    @ Martin – didn’t Steve Harper say in an interview after he was gone that very little work is done on the attacking third in training – might be a contributing factor – although in warm ups nobody ever seems to take them too seriously – but it establishes a mindset.

    IMHO Bruce is burned out and should go – 7 months too late at least mind you (probably should actually have been Nov/Dec 2014). He’s had opportunities to address issues already this season and hasn’t shown much evidence of a structured approach and solution. And wtf does Phelan do – seriously for someone with such a supposed “CV” is he just a yes-man?

  7. WSM
    WSM says:

    I’d love to hear SB’s responses to these points. How good to have him as an Amber Nectar podcast guest. I reckon he’d enjoy it.

  8. WSM
    WSM says:

    Neither. Although while Allan has stopped trying to change the club’s name I don’t spend much time thinking about him.

  9. Bunkers Bill
    Bunkers Bill says:

    “With Dawson out for the Reading game I wondered who we should have in his place – and there he was, leading out the Reading team, Paul McShane!”

    Yeah, great, wannit?

    You’d want a defender who’s been relegated with us twice and who we’ve rightly binned off (but only after we’ve made him a millionaire) to be playing in their defence, and McShame didn’t disappoint. Leaky Royals defence and lots of shanked passes into touch.

    We could do with Quinny back though- he would pep up our lame midfield with his jinky runs and quality crossing, He’s wasting his time at Reading but fair play if they offered him more $$$.

    As regards the ‘survey’ I guess this is a Ehab v Mooney argument formulated to settle the ‘goal music is more popular than big flags being waved argument’.

    Panem et circenses. Look it up silly bastards…..

    It’s right up there with the ‘Amber wears a skirt, how come she doesn’t wear a top?’ argument among the hot Tiger Topics.

    Anyone think we can beat Burnley? No, thought not

  10. gjhdurham
    gjhdurham says:

    It’s another report of how we’ve been crap …but concludes that there’s no “plausible” replacement for Bruce. How many more times?
    One of the problems with the Champs is the number of local Yorkshire clubs… making it easy to drop points. Seem to recall PB doing quite well in this regard… However…Came back on a train full of drunken Mag and Leeds supporters….separated by a police squad…the other Sat. Both had lost in London. Going far North, Virgin put us with the Geordies, but in their inflexible way had put two Leeds lads from Darlo in there. (They wouldn’t let us book the quiet coach…twats!) Conversation raged as to what were local derby games, and whether Hull was in Yorkshire. (Was getting a bit annoyed at this stage!) A loud mouth Mag suggested playing Hull wasn’t a derby game to the Leeds Lads. The Leeds fan replied that that was right…”It’s a Cup Final” he said! Sadly if you’re not up for these games from the off, you’ll get nowt…and £50mil on transfer fees mean nothing! Went to the quiet coach at Peterbro irrespective…
    Most errors lately…leading to goals… seem to stem from our young full backs …who don’t defend well. In fact all we have are wing backs, so 3 at the back would seem sensible.
    Where is Luer….?
    We seem to play better at home, so Burnley…?

  11. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Some clearly unhappy / unsettled people in the City squad. Elmo and Moses spats, Huddlestone & Diames 50% work ethic, shoddy defending whenever Dawson isn’t present. For me Elmo, T Hudd,, Davies can all go in January. Sign Rhodes / McCormack and a defender like McShane.

  12. Blackadder
    Blackadder says:

    McCormack cost Fulham 11 million from Leeds I don’t see Bruce having that kind of money to spend and Rhodes would cost about the same so that idea is a dud. Bruce wasted almost 6 million on Adubajo and Diomande in my opinion, I know the latter hasn’t had a chance yet but we should have bought Gray instead of those two, he’s already scored 10 for Burnley and will probably add to his tally on Saturday. He would have made an ideal partner for Hernandez. If the January sales are on then Bruce has to demand that the money for Hudds, Davies or Diame is spent on strengthening the squad instead of paying down the loan to Allamhouse.

  13. Bunkers Bill
    Bunkers Bill says:

    “Sign Rhodes / McCormack and a defender like McShane.”

    Are you mental?

    Boro, where Rhodes’ uncle (ex City) now works,have been trying unsuccessfully for a long time to prise him away from Venky’s millions.

    A defender like McShane? That would mean Stuart Eccleston/Steve Richards coming out out of retirement then.

  14. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Fine to criticise Bonkers, IF you can offer an alternative solution (as Blackadder did).
    We have barely seen Diamande yet, and Moses has looked good up until the last couple of weeks, so hardly a waste of money.
    I would have signed Gray but I remember many on here arguing against, stating he was overpriced.

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