1. Another peculiarly imbalanced game at the Circle on Saturday, with City terrible for a half, and then actually quite good. The first 45 minutes against West Brom was really quite awful, City were lethargic and directionless, gifting the visitors a shockingly cheap goal and not registering a solitary effort on goal.
2. Then came a startling turnaround. After the break, City looked full of purpose and not a little skill – had Jake Livermore finished off that flowing passing move it’d have been a goal Barcelona themselves would have purred with pleasure over. In the end, as dismal as we were at the start, we were good enough by the end to have deserved the point.
3. This can’t be a game plan, can it? It sounds ridiculous to contemplate that City might wilfully be going for it in only one half of a match, but it’s becoming a regular occurrence. A haul of four points from six in two home games against two sides in the top half of the table is pretty good, and both followed the same pattern: We are content for the opponent to have the ball for the entirety of the first half and even take the lead, then after the break we stop playing dead and become a threat ourselves. It’s risky stuff, only playing well for one half had a disastrous outcome at Sunderland as City changed the order, performing impressively in the first half but supine in the second. Presumably this isn’t something Mike Phelan actually wants, and his post match discussion about maintaining concentration suggests that, although he could just have been referring to Rondon’s late header.
4. It’s too easy to suggest that the reversal of our fortunes lies solely in one half-time substitution, that of Adama Diomandé for the worryingly ineffective Ryan Mason – however, it certainly seemed to be the catalyst for that dramatic improvement. He was everything we hadn’t been in the first half: powerful, direct and combative, and his lively approach galvanised his team-mates. He was already our man of the match by the 50th minute, and the clear winner by full-time. With the greatest of respect, who could imagine that Diomandé could influence the direction of a Premier League fixture in that way? But he did, and he deserves huge credit…and a prominent position in Mike Phelan’s thinking for his next starting XI.
5. Ryan Mason, though. It’s early days, but…
6. There were about 15,000 souls in the Circle on Saturday, with the swathes of empty seats so noticeable that they’re coming to national attention – even if the precise reason for them remains occasionally misunderstood. It’s mismanagement on a epic scale to have ten thousand empty seats for Premier League football in a city that yearned for over a century for these days to arrive. Well done, Ehab. Well done indeed.
7. There’ll be even more for the visit of Newcastle tomorrow evening, unless their supporters’ attempts to infiltrate the home ends are significantly successful. And this for a game that could see us into the League Cup semi-finals for the first time ever. If some aspects of the Allams ghastly misrule make you mad, this just makes us sad.
8. What a shame that this is the game selected by Invisible Flock to record the sounds of the crowd for their Hull 2017 installation. Their plan to have multiple microphones recording crowd noise so that it can be transplanted elsewhere, offering an aurally immersive experience of the sonic architecture of the crowd at a match, is truly fantastic. The timing though, is not, as games this season have often played out in near silence, such is the sense of disenchantment.
9. But there’s still a football match to be played, and it’s one that – uniquely in our recollection – sees a Championship side away to a Premier League one start as healthy favourites. However, if Mike Phelan picks his strongest team, and it plays to its abilities, there’s no reason that by tomorrow evening, we could be salivating over the prospect of a genuinely historical occasion.
10. This 24 hours is beginning to drag a bit. Thankfully we aren’t cynics here at Amber Nectar, otherwise we’d be tempted to think the Allam family is thoroughly, disreputably dishonest. And we’d hate for their friends in business and other non-City areas of life to ever get such an impression.