1. A busy, though not entirely successful week for City, on and off the field. Out of the Cup, out of the promotion places and out of touch (morning, Ehab).
2. Arsenal. This may have been the most encouraging part of the whole week. For a time, City’s much changed XI held and even bested their Premier League opponents, and had David Meyler not had that inexplicable brainstorm shortly before half-time, we could have snuck a result. As it was, Arsenal pulled away remorselessly in the second half to deserve a win, if not a very unfair 4-0 scoreline, and we’re left with whatifs and maybes once more.
3. Nonetheless, the Cups have provided some real fun this season. Accrington, Swansea, Leicester, Bury, Arsenal (a) – that sort of enjoyment used to take about a decade to accumulate. Imagine what we could do if Steve Bruce ever took them seriously…
4. Taken seriously was Milton Keynes, and it was an unremittingly grim affair. It’s perhaps fitting that a club whose mere existence is a stain on the sport should play in such a grisly fashion. Time wasting from the very beginning, recognising quickly and capitalising upon a hopelessly weak referee’s indulgence when it came to falling over, delaying, spoiling – it was horrible. We have and always will wish them every misfortune.
5. None of that excuses City, who were dreadful. A sudden rash of injuries cannot be used to explain a baffling line-up that saw Clucas deployed centrally and Diamé out wide. Milton Keynes’ anti-football doesn’t forgive City wretchedly stumbling through the first twenty minutes without threatening to lay a glove on them, allowing a terrible side to gain confidence.
6. It was in midfield that City looked particularly weak. Without Meyler or Livermore, that area was very fragile. Hayden and Clucas rarely linked up, and when at half-time you’re beseeching the manager to put Tom Huddlestone on, it gives you an idea how disjointed the whole affair was.
7. That Steve Bruce let it go on as long as it did without making changes to personnel or formation is hard to understand. It wasn’t working. It hadn’t been working at any point. Why did he persist so long? The manager and his assistant were deep in conversation throughout of this miserable match – what were they discussing?
8. It all means that the title has probably gone. Burnley are nine points clear, and despite City possessing two games in hand, it really doesn’t feel as though they’re catchable any longer. We wanted that trophy, and its likely disappearance elsewhere hurts. Nothing in the two games between the two sides will ever persuade us that Burnley are a better side than City, and we had plenty of chances to establish a lead at the top of the table. However, they’ve gone, and you have to congratulate them on that. Barring a late surge by Derby or perhaps even Sheffield Wednesday, it seems as though three teams are contesting the second promotion place. Neither of the three are shaping up especially well at the moment. Brighton may be unbeaten in four, but they’ve drawn their last two without scoring. Middlesbrough are having a meltdown to make Derby’s turmoil earlier this season seem positively restrained. We’re suddenly struggling. It’s a bizarre promotion race, with the ludicrous Premier League riches obviously affecting everyone.
9. Meanwhile, the regrettable instance of a member of the Allam family opening his mouth irritated everyone at the end of last week, with Ehab striking a peculiarly anti-supporter line. The Premier League’s proposed £30 cap on tickets for away fans is, apparently, “not in the interests of football”. Presumably, pricing thousands of fans out of the game somehow is – but on he continued, foot firmly in mouth, decrying the prospect of tickets being “over-subscribed” and darkly warning that it “will lead to an allocation process having to be set up”. Ehab, old sport, go speak to what’s left of the ticket office. There’s already an allocation process set up.
10. Meanwhile, his comments about the impact on City are just laughable. What do you check when you’re thinking of going to an away game? The cost of tickets, who’s going, train times, whether anyone will drive, etc – or Tripadvisor reviews? On Planet Ehab, it’s apparently the latter. Meanwhile, in the reality-based community, price is a huge factor. But on he ploughed, saying that clubs who aren’t at 90% capacity should be financially penalised. It’s fairly obvious that this was just something that popped into his head with no real thought, and no-one will take it seriously. It does raise one interesting question though: exactly how much does he think City should be fined this season for all of the empty seats his ridiculous pricing system has created – and how is he going to prevent this from happening in the future, given that £30 is apparently not enough?