1. Our hopes of making the top two remain alive, but only just. Last Friday’s victory for Middlesbrough felt like a near-fatal blow, but Saturday’s emphatic victory over Bristol City means that we are, just about, still in the hunt.
2. The match in isolation was actually very enjoyable. City started well, got an early goal and apart from a lull midway through the first half, we were in complete control. Chances were made and taken at pleasingly regular intervals, and if 4-0 felt a tiny bit flattering, it does at least give us the division’s best goal difference again. Who knows if that’ll come in handy?
3. Its bearing on the season is something we’ll have to wait to discover. Prior to kick-off, City probably needed seven wins from their final nine games to be in with a shout of reclaiming an automatic place. We now require six from eight. It’s a very tall order and it’s not easy to see us catching the revitalised and reunited Middlesbrough – all Steve Bruce’s men can do now is try to make them earn it, as opposed to timidly handing it over.
4. We should have loftier aims than this, of course – but that victory gives us a cushion of seven points (and a game in hand) over seventh place. The play-offs are at least assured. A minute victory perhaps, but the prospect of a total top-six avoiding meltdown has been averted.
5. As for those play-offs, it’s a big advantage to finish third or fourth. Home advantage in the second leg is a big deal and if we must settle for them, it’d be nice to ensure we have that benefit, coupled with some decent form.
6. That takes us to Derby tomorrow night. It is by some distance our hardest match left this season. And it’s still almost a must-win game. There’s just no margin for error any more.
7. Huddersfield away absolutely is a must-win game. Meanwhile, we wonder just how sore West Yorkshire Police still are being forced to apologise for their disgraceful behaviour three years ago and whether they’ll look to take it out on us on Saturday. We just need one more apology for being wrongly labelled as hooligans now…
8. Doesn’t it rather feel as though the Steve Bruce era is coming to an end? He was decidedly equivocal when asked about his longer term future last week, and one wonders whether his enthusiasm for managing City is on the wane. Four years in the job is hardly an eternity, but in modern management it is and while we don’t doubt that he’s remaining thoroughly professional, we have the same feeling that a separation is coming as we did when Peter Taylor took his leave ten summers ago.
9. We’re unconvinced that going to Aston Villa is a great idea, however. They are certain to be a Championship side next season, while his current club does still have a presentable opportunity of being in the top flight. Barring a takeover and some investment, they’ll be a total wreck of a club. His Birmingham past will count against him the moment they lose a couple of games. As alluded to above, a decade ago a successful City manager thought that the grass was greener elsewhere. It wasn’t.
10. News emerged on Friday evening that modifications are to be made to City’s new membership scheme. We’ll wait for further details before getting too excited, as the club are yet to offer anything official, and there was an awful lot that needed sorting out.