Things We Think We Think #217

1. Well, who foresaw two 0-0 draws from games against Brighton and Arsenal? City started really well against the Seagulls, looking relaxed and confident as they passed the ball sideways waiting for a gap to open up in Brighton’s rearguard, but the visitors contained us well and City lost focus. After Middlesbrough’s no score draw at Leeds, City had a chance to take advantage and go four points clear at the top, but we didn’t exert ourselves enough to  take it. A draw was tolerable, but undoubtedly disappointing. Complacency is the only thing that can stop City winning their first championship in 50 years.

2. Meanwhile, it’s a joy to be in the draw for the sixth round of the FA Cup again, isn’t it? We may not actually be in the sixth round (yet) but by not losing at Arsenal, keeping a clean sheet and making their unimaginably spoilt, entitled supporters go bawling to the Guardian’s comments pages about it being so unfair that lesser teams have the nerve to defend against them, we’ve done ourselves and football a great service.

3. That is, perhaps, until you consider the schedule ahead of us. The authorities have insisted on putting league fixtures into the midweek windows following each FA Cup weekend, thereby giving whingers the chance to question the FA Cup’s importance, and clubs further excuse – not that they’d actually need it – to put into the team a bunch of third-stringers whose matchday duties rarely go beyond hauling the kit basket out of the coach. A replay, albeit one at home, suits City as little as it does Arsenal.

4. The likeliest scenario at the time of writing is that City will rearrange the midweek home game against Brentford in order to accommodate the replay. But of course, little attention has been paid to City’s pile-up of games because Arsenal are in the super-duper stages of the Champions League and that takes on inter-planetary importance to absolutely everyone, including those who don’t know it yet or whom the media thinks should know better. That is, of course, until Barcelona crush them over two legs in their round of 16 game.

5. Of course, it isn’t necessarily a sympathetic view to bemoan an extra game of football being foisted on highly-paid professional footballers. From City’s point of view, a draw at Arsenal could be seen as a worse result than a defeat, as an exit from the FA Cup, heroic or otherwise, allows you to follow the immortal, tiresome cliché of “concentrating on the league” and, in City’s case, there is much to “concentrate” on, of course. But if City had won? That in itself, short-term glories and justifiable baiting of hateful Gooners aside, would have also brought out the professional worriers as far as fixture congestion is concerned, because the sixth round game would have forced another Championship match into the midweek abyss somewhere (and may still, of course – in this instance, City’s home game against MK Dons). There are compelling arguments on both sides, but ultimately football is about glory, glory comes from winning trophies and trophies come from winning matches. If you don’t want to be successful, stop winning and see how far that gets you with the fans, the media and with your employment prospects. City reached the final two years ago without being consequently in danger of relegation from the Premier League, and have a squad capable of enough of trying to the absolute limit in the FA Cup without destroying hopes of Championship glory. And if they beat what we suspect will be a massively distracted Arsenal side in the replay, then Wembley will be 90 minutes away and, thanks to Watford’s name coming out in a home draw, eminently doable to boot. It’d be mad, criminal even, to turn that chance down.

6. Steve Bruce’s desire to have FA Cup replays scrapped was the main focus of at least one national newspaper’s coverage of the game, not the performance of the team, nor of the goalkeeper, nor a massively heartening result for a side looking to win their division. It was such an unwise thing to say and smacked of short-term self-interest. Nothing more. City could play the exact same XI in the replay and it not affect our league run in at all, given that we made ten changes to the line-up that faced Brighton. We have a deep squad, established players that can’t get into the first team who need proper games to maintain fitness, we have talented young kids such as Josh Tymon who will gain immeasurably more from playing a replay against Arsenal than playing developmental games at Colchester, and our manager talks of doing away with replays because we have a busy run-in.

7. And finally, we can turn to that very act of keeping Arsenal at bay, led by an unlikely performance from Eldin Jakupović. He had a day in the sun, becoming the subject of a glut of internet memes for his saves and also his reaction to one save after viewing the replay on the big screen. It’s hard to begrudge him the attention, as the signing of Dušan Kuciak and Allan McGregor’s contract extension suggest Jakupović’s days are numbered. It’s ironic, given that this has been his most impressive and notably least error-prone campaign with the Tigers. And, just throwing it out there … is there any chance he may stay in the team for the game against Ipswich on Tuesday?

8. After the trip to Ipswich (who had the weekend off and hover in ninth place) City have a Friday night game for the TV cameras at home to Sheffield Wednesday. Big games in quick succession, not much room for respite, and yet we can’t wait. Bring it on. All of it.

9. We’re disinclined to waste too much energy on Jimmy Bullard’s claim that City accidentally paid him £50,000 per week, instead of the mere £40,000 he was expecting to have to struggle by with. The facts and the personalities are well known: Jimmy Bullard is a abhorrent human being obsessed with money and with no interest in football; those running City at the time were delinquent overspenders completely unfit to be our owners. The less we hear about these miserably inadequate individuals, the better.

10. It was  a shock to the system when we realised that Josh Tymon wasn’t even alive when this website (and the hardcopy fanzine it supported) was first created. Happy 18th birthday to us!

13 replies
  1. Paul
    Paul says:

    Happy Birthday AN!
    Another good piece, 6. Is the one that gets my goat the most. If Bruce hadn’t got to the Cup final, and for a large part of the run with changed teams, would he still be here? His moaning is quite tiresome. It was in days gone by when he was at other clubs and it is now. Now to say do away with replays just shows the obsession with coming 15th in the Prem league, ask the West Brom fans (not the coin chucking dickhead, the real ones) how they feel today now the cup has gone for another year. Saturday was so exciting, not least because I watched it down south in a pub surrounded by gooners. I literally could have burst near the end.

    Always liked Jak, no really I have, met him at Kings Cross last season, was the nicest of the three players who were there, and was delighted for him on Saturday. Imagine the score had Harper been playing.

    I’m now I’m off to dust wor self down…..

  2. Chunder Monkey
    Chunder Monkey says:

    Excellent point Paul.

    I don’t get what people are stressing out about. We’ve got a massive squad, if anything the cup run helps Bruce because he can give players games and keep fringe players happy. Obviously the league has to be the priority, but he made ten changes on Saturday and fashioned a team that would still beat most teams in the Championship. I remember when we got knocked out in round one by Kettering. That really was something to worry about.

  3. HempholmeTigers
    HempholmeTigers says:

    How utterly disrespectful but tediously normal for City at the Cup draw last night – when the comment was made about Watford’s next round game being at the Emirates …
    C’mon you ‘Ull! We’ve got the squad to do it, have we got the spherical objects?

  4. Paul
    Paul says:

    And still on the subject of the cup, as much as I didn’t really want Chelsea to win I was pleased that the whinging Pellegrini got his comeuppance yesterday and that’s he’s already effectively got the sack. Also will pundits stop calling Man City, City. They’ve always been called Man City by everyone, why are these media muppets referring to them constantly as City.
    Not that I was ever going to Ipswich on. Tuesday night but they want over £30 for the privilege of anyone attending tomorrow. That’s over £30 for a 2nd Division match between Ipswich and Hull City on a Tuesday night…….

  5. Bill Carson
    Bill Carson says:

    Agree with all of the above – well said.
    The Jak was World Class on Saturday.
    I’d leave him as sub for Tuesday, purely to give him a rest mentally and physically. However I’d be tempted to reward him with a start on Friday.
    Anyone else unhappy with the view from the seats at Arsenal? I prefer the Etihad and Bury for that matter.
    As for fixture congestion, this only affects the fans. Indeed ir should HELP us by giving valuable game time to the rest of the squad, who could well be needed in the run in. It should also boost squad moral. So a win win.
    If we can beat ARSEnil then a re-run of the last time we faced Watford in a pre Wembley appearance will do nicely.

  6. Richard pearson
    Richard pearson says:

    We know our place, don’t we! I wanted to read the Guardian report on the Arsenal game. Two columns given to it. We were mentioned as an afterthought. Nothing changes!
    Oh, by the way. Who is Jimmy Bullard?

  7. Bill Baxter
    Bill Baxter says:

    It’s the club that has the fixture pile up, not the players.
    How many players play in every game nowadays?, hardly any.
    Disappointed in Bruce’s whingeing, I thought he understood the tradition of the F.A.Cup but it seems he’s another who’s sold his soul to the Premier League devil as well.

  8. Eastmidstiger
    Eastmidstiger says:

    Great tactics drawing with Arsenal, Arsenal who only ever play FA Cup games in London (fact) gave us the chance to get a next round home tie due to whoever fixes these things having already ruled us out, all we need to do now is play a decent forward against them (please Brucie)and take them completely by surprise, and we then have Watford at home ….smell the hot dogs?

  9. Erik
    Erik says:

    Am in London for work at the moment (travelled from Oslo). Thought I might take the train out to Ipswich, only an hour or so away, to see the game since I have some time to spare. What utter bollocks 35 pounds is for a match ticket against a mid table championship team, but I rarely get to see City play so I just had to go. Oh, and fuck your train prices with a pineapple. I still managed to have fun, though.

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