1. City lose to Burnley. Shock bloody horror. It’s tempting to think that they do indeed possess a hex over us, one lifted only temporarily on Boxing Day and ruthlessly reasserted on Saturday, and there’s plenty in our recent history to suggest that we are simply destined to be points fodder for Burnley. But let’s look beyond that.
2. City were actually okay. Better than in victory at Fulham and QPR, some say. Those weren’t stellar performances, but they were at least victories. And with a fraction greater sharpness at both ends, this’d have been a win as well.
3. On another day, Abel Hernández would have stuck a chance away, and Allan McGregor would have parried the ball to safety. Fine margins in a tight game against a good side in which City played tolerably well – this sort of frustrating afternoon is inevitable.
4. That frustration was compounded by results elsewhere. With Middlesbrough and Derby drawing games far easier than our own, it’s hard not to wistfully imagine the consequences of a City win. We’d be a fair way clear now, with games in hand on many. Instead, we’re level on points with Middlesbrough, whose slight stutter brings comfort, but just a point ahead of a resurgent Burnley and only three ahead of the recovering Brighton. It feels very tight again.
5. It’s also hard to overlook another defeat on the road, even if mitigating circumstances apply. City are the only side in the top eight to have lost six times away from home this season, and you must travel into the bottom half to find a side with more losses on their travels. That trio of calamities against Leeds, Rotherham and Preston continue to stalk the season.
6. Well, tough. We’re on the road yet again this week, against a Blackburn side who’ve won just three times at home this season. They did us a useful favour on Saturday, but this really is a game we have to find a way of winning.
7. What would Steve Bruce have done if Harry Maguire had been fit to start at Burnley? The Maguire-or-Dawson dilemma sparked plenty of debate in the build-up to the game, with powerful arguments either way. Drop one of our form players of recent weeks? Unthinkable. Decline to play Michael Dawson? Unthinkable. For some reason, it never felt as though Curtis Davies, more steady than spectacular of late, was in for the chop – we’ll now never know. It’d have presented the manager with a fascinating dilemma.
8. The grumblings over the decision to levy a mandatory charge on anyone booking tickets for a game in advance continue. For City’s away games at Bury and Burnley, this meant those that bought before travelling were charged, those who elected to pay on the day were not. Might this charge – small, but annoying – encourage City fans to defer buying until they reach the away turnstiles to avoid it, thus causing inevitable mayhem at the gate, the risk of people being locked out or missing chunks of the game?
9. City have announced a small tweak, with season ticket holders no longer charged for buying in person. But what about those priced out of possessing a season ticket? Or those who live out of town? We aren’t interested in whether it’s City’s fault, or the SMC, as if those are two wholly separate entities – just drop it. We pay too much as it is.
10. Meanwhile, we look on with interest at the reaction to a sizeable section of Liverpool fans walking out of their game at the weekend over pricing. Their club has reacted with a technocratic reply shorn of imagination, a lack of appreciation for the bigger picture and a mildly unpleasant air of self-congratulation about freezing some prices, as though maintaining the unjustly excessive is somehow a cause for celebration. Rather how we’d expect our own club to respond, in other words. So, over to you City. If the approximate schedule of previous seasons is being followed, 2016/17 prices will already be under discussion. Prices need to come down, sharply. And that’s not us greedily wanting to pay less for “the product” simply merely our subjective opinion, it’s objectively proven by the thousands of empty seats a table-topping team must play in front of.