1. Birmingham was a ninety minute exercise in frustration. Some time from the end, it’d become dishearteningly clear that City weren’t going to score. That’s a worry. Goals have dried up of late, and teams devoted to defending now find it easier to keep us out.
2. The performance offered some consolation, however. City battered Birmingham, and were only an observant referee and an improvement to even satisfactory finishing away from victory. This is a results business, and they’ve taken a dip – but performances are still encouraging. That may sound minor, but it isn’t – Steve Bruce’s task would be a far harder one if he were having to fix both.
3. It’s clear that if City are to win promotion and/or the title, we’re going to have come from behind. Already, four points keep us from the top – that could rise to seven tomorrow, and if we beat Arsenal and swap League for Cup on Saturday, that could rise to a daunting ten. Sure, we’ll have games in hand, a deep squad, a run-in we wouldn’t exchange for any of our rivals’, weighted nicely with home games – but the task could be made extremely difficult by our rivals.
4. Perhaps we’re clutching a little at straws here, but might that benefit City? Every time we’ve had an opportunity to establish a lead at the top, we’ve failed to take it. It’s unfair to suggest that complacency instantly creeps in whenever we reach the summit, but maybe there’s a tiny unconscious relaxing of intensity. Will chasing help to rediscover any lost intensitiy? Will having no option but to perform at their very best with no margin for error help or hinder? With all those home games and a theoretically favourable run-in, perhaps winning it it from behind is the way in which we’re most likely to do it. After all, it’s probably the only way now.
5. We’d like to believe that the reason Bruce withdrew Mohamed Diamé with half an hour still to go against Birmingham was to keep him relatively fresh for a starting berth against Arsenal on Tuesday night. An on-song Diamé, against a distracted, misfiring Arsenal side, could be a very interesting thing to witness indeed.
6. And, despite the mild dip in league form, we really, really hope that Bruce just gives this FA Cup replay against a flagging, much-criticised Arsenal outfit a proper go. There should be no place for fringe players on that night at the Circle. Tickets are selling well (at a semi-reasonable price too) and there is a real feeling that City could do a job on the Gunners and get another winnable quarter final at home afterwards. It would be a real travesty if the belief and interest of the public was not reciprocated by the manager and his charges.
7. And the prospect of Arsenal fans spontaneously combusting with their conceited, self-entitled, charmless bleatings courtesy of a defeat by City is just too good a prospect to turn down. This view of Arsenal fans is felt by every other set of supporters across the country – it’d be great to win the game not just for our own purposes, but for football as a whole.
8. It’s a shame the Fans’ Working Group went 11 months without meeting, a run ended only twelve days ago. At least we learned a few things from it. We were told that responsibility for the club’s ridiculous decision to use a made-up name for some of its social media outlets lies with the Allam family. How utterly pathetic.
9. Away fans to the upper West, eh? We’re frequently given the least appealing accommodation on our travels, so there’s a temptation to return the favour to our visitors. In theory, bunging away fans in the remote corners of the stadium could be of benefit. But there are other issues to consider. The stroppy local police are likely to object, irrespective of its merits. Home/away fan interaction is one of the main drivers of atmosphere – is placing them out of earshot going to help the torpid matchday atmosphere? And so on.
10. Price, price, price. It’s football’s biggest issue at the moment. Over to you, City.