1: Coo, what a performance. How unexpected. And how exquisitely timed too. To go to Derby, our prime nemesis this season, and give them a three-goal seeing-to in the first leg of the play-offs, without response, without breaking sweat, was just what the doctor ordered. Notwithstanding any ‘typical City’ circumstances that the educated in such matters will ponder ruefully over the next couple of days, the second leg should now be an excuse for a celebration.
2: And perhaps a party atmosphere at the KC(OM) is precisely what we need. It’ll be good for the soul, after some of the crap we’ve had to put up with this season. The team can do a professional job while the supporters sing, swap witticisms and make plans for the final, while following the Supporters Trust‘s suggestion that the red card protest is put on hold. And as Ehab Allam doesn’t attend home matches any more, he won’t be there to muscle in and get a staged photo taken looking happy and magisterial.
3: What’s that you say? Ehab will probably turn up now? Och, that’s very cynical. After all, he hasn’t got a history of hypocrisy or inconsistency or treachery at all.
4: It was a corking team display at the
Baseball Ground Pride Park iPro Stadium, but we feel compelled to dish out individual praise. First up, Eldin Jakupović. One shot on target to save, one goal assist, one brilliant close-up bit of English swearing, one very dodgy punch, one split lip. It was like Jakupović bingo out there.
5: Moses Odubajo and (to a lesser, but by no means to his great detriment, extent) Andy Robertson. Some of the overlapping they did was from the textbook, fortunate as they are that their pace and stamina can get them into defensive mode again swiftly if possession is sacrificed. Both scored goals too (sort of) and that can’t happen often for two orthodox (in formation, if not intent) full backs. And Robertson’s goal allows us a whole barrowload of breathing space tomorrow night.
6: Abel Hernández. What a goal that was.
7: Jake Livermore. What a player he is at this level.
8: The City fans were magnificent at Derby. It’s a ground that’s rightly developed a reputation for having one of the Championship’s better atmospheres, and in the opening exchanges they were pretty loud, with noise coming at us from either side. By the end of the game, they’d completely given up trying to compete with the away end, which was given as free a run of the Ipro stadium as our team. Well done, us.
9: How do you approach a second leg at home with a three-goal cushion? It’s a nice problem to have and we doubt that Derby’s deflated caretaker manager Darren Wassall would hesitate to swap places with Steve Bruce; but that doesn’t mean the City manager doesn’t have a few things to think about it. If we do make the play-off final, an eleven day gap is more than enough time to get everyone rested – there’s no need to rest anyone here. Scoring first would kill off any lingering Derby ambitions of pulling off an epic comeback and there must be a temptation to aim for a fourth…however, conceding first will give tomorrow’s visitors just a glimmer of hope. They’ll have no choice but to throw caution to the East Yorkshire wind and come at us – setting up City to be solid at the back and pacy on the break seems the way forward. A little like Saturday, in fact…
10: Eleven seasons ago, our promotion from League One was rubberstamped by Tranmere Rovers, our nearest rivals for the runners-up spot, not winning a midweek game in hand. Next season they will be playing league games against North Ferriby United. We heartily congratulate our village neighbours on a stunning, extraordinary promotion to a division we came so close to “gracing” not a million years ago. And, as our generosity threshold is currently set to maximum, we offer pats on the back also to Grimsby Town on their return to the Football League, though obviously we’re wearing latex gloves when administering them. With luck, they can celebrate their return by being paggered by us in the League Cup next season.