1. City’s sequence of away games concluded with a very satisfying 2-0 win at Blackburn on Saturday, and we’re back at the top of the league. Significant credit to the players for this one, because whatever the disparity in ability between City and their hosts, any away victory that’s made to look fairly routine is an accomplishment.
2. It suggests a real improvement in mentality from City. They lost three horrible games in a row on the road in December, results and performances so awful it threatened to derail the whole season. Since then we’ve played five times outside of East Yorkshire: QPR (okay, improved), Fulham (alright), Bury (good), Burnley (good, unlucky) and Blackburn (very good). We still don’t entirely trust City away from home, but that’s a solid sign of progress.
3. It means we’ve come through this ugly little patch of four successive away games with six points and progress in the Cup. We’d definitely have taken that at the start of it.
4. Who saw Tom Huddlestone being included at Blackburn? Not us, not anyway it seemed. It’s tough on Isaac Hayden, though the manager reassures us that he has the mentality to cope. It’s also remarkable to think that David Meyler, indispensible at the turn of the year, also cannot get in the side. That strength in depth thing is turning out to be real.
5. Meanwhile, as City smoothly retake top spot, at least until tonight, others are faltering. Derby’s loss of form culminated in the bizarre decision to sack their manager, accompanied by a gloriously idiotic wail about “the Derby way”. That this act of naked panic was a bad idea is proven by the delighted reaction of the other promotion-chasing clubs’ fans, and also Derby’s latest defeat at the weekend.
6. What of Middlesbrough? We’ll learn a lot about their mentality tonight when they take on Leeds. That’s a very winnable game for any side hoping to be in the top flight next season, but they’re experiencing their own sticky patch. Wouldn’t it be lovely if they too could do something as dopey as Derby?
7. No longer struggling are Brighton, City’s opponents at the Circle tomorrow evening. When they lost their third League game in a row at Rotherham, it’s safe to say that many wrote them off. Four wins later and they’re right back in it. What a glorious division. And what a recovery from them too – it’d have been easier to slide meekly out of contention, but here they come. This, the first of three away games in a row for them, will be an extremely testing game for us.
8. It’s tempting to write off City’s trip to the Emirates on Saturday. A more winnable tie than this would have us almost panting with excitement, stricken with Cup fever. As it is, it’s very hard to imagine City taking too much from this game. We wonder how seriously Steve Bruce will take it, given City’s position in the League.
9. Ehab’s been a busy boy, speaking freely in the Yorkshire Post last week about his family’s plans for the club. We still enjoy his plucky assertion that he prefers watching games at home to being there in person – courageous advocacy of armchair support, that. A pity he wasn’t pressed more on ticket prices and whether we can have the proper badge back next season, though.
10. We may be learning something more about those 2016/17 prices very soon. Given the mood in football and the failure of last year’s increased cost, we can only assume they’re coming down.