1. We needed that. Forget the manner in which it was achieved, just count up those three points and reflect upon a dirty job done well. The Premier League table and the predicament it places City in has been upgraded from “critical” to merely “severe”.
2. City’s 2-1 win over Swansea will not live long in the memory, but that doesn’t matter. After the pretty wretched capitulation at Leicester, coming on the back of a disappointing draw against Burnley, it’s hard to imagine that City’s aspirations of staying up could have survived anything but a victory over Swansea. Sometimes, it just needs grinding out. And that was done, to the significant credit of a side that must have felt immense and growing pressure throughout the afternoon.
3. For an agonisingly long time, it was a win that didn’t feel as if it was coming. Swansea were as limited as you’d anticipate relegation rivals on the road to be, but they were also organised and well aware that a point was as useful for them as damaging for us. For the first hour, City laboured against the Swans, and while the eventual victory makes it easy to overlook, the manager could do a lot worse than revisit this period for clues about how it could be improved upon.
4. It’s also easy to assume it’s nothing more than City playing for too long with one striker, and it’s true that the improvement upon playing with two up front was swift and considerable. However, City looked to be lining up with a 4-5-1 designed to quickly morph into a 4-3-3 – except that it was far from quick. Swansea had the better of the opening stages, and nervous or not, City simply didn’t start the game well enough.
5. At least City stayed in the game when struggling. And when Llorente went off close to half-time and Swansea realised they’d forgotten to devise a Plan B for life without the Spaniard, we grew nicely into the game. It still took the addition of a second forward though. As touched upon in the match report, strikers hunt in pairs, and even the most willing of forwards must find it dispiriting to plough a lone furrow. Hernández brightened when Niasse arrived and the combination for their goal was delicious. Silva appears not to favour a front two – but might the instant impact that pairing Hernández and Niasse had give him cause to reconsider? (post-Everton, at least…)
5a. The laughable attempts of Swansea fans on Social Media to paint City as little more than thugs trying to cripple all of their players glosses over a simpler truth. Swansea are a team of fadges.
6. The effectiveness of a front pairing was further emphasised when City reverted to one up front for the closing spell, allowing Swansea to press forward with urgency and score a preventable consolation which made it uncomfortable for the last couple of minutes of added time. It seems that this is sewn into City’s fabric, this notion that winning comfortably is anathema and somehow we have to make it hard for ourselves. Taking off attackers when in winning positions, very simply, endangers that winning position. Swansea had nothing left to lose by piling forward anyway, the last thing we needed to do was make it easy for them.
7. It’s fair to say that Kamil Grosicki had a difficult and frustrating afternoon on Saturday, epitomised by his rueful expression after slicing a free kick into touch (when City had sent everyone but him and Jakupović ahead of the ball). Still, his determination and graft are plain for all to see and highly admirable, hopefully it will click for him soon. Comparisons with David Beresford (Beresicki?) on the grounds of ‘lots of pace but no end product’ seem a bit harsh and premature, but that’s preferable to comparison with Lazar Marković, a man with little end product largely down to little work rate.
8. It was brilliant to see plenty of Poles in the ground on Saturday, presumably to see their compatriot. Several near us looked as though they’d thoroughly enjoyed their build-up to the game, and it was depressing to see the City stewards acting in such an unfriendly manner towards them. We hope they come back.
9. Attendances would be further buoyed if kids and seniors weren’t priced out. The courting of the city’s Polish community is admirable, but it also highlights the continued contempt for the young and old of the indigenous community. Concessions City, stop divving about and offer them again as the rules of the league you play in stipulate.
10. Much furore over Marco Silva’s comments about the state of the Circle’s greensward, having been rugby-ed up just 19 hours before a Premier League football match. From our vantage, it didn’t look too bad – however, both managers bemoaned its condition, so appearances were evidently misleading. It’s a pity the BBC chose to so callously misquote the City manager, for his complaint was about the proximity of a rugby league match to a football one, not the actual presence of it, something that naturally riled the eggchasing fraternity and meant we’ve had to spend all weekend listening to them moaning, as if the Premier League and “Super” League are somehow comparable. Nonetheless, the episode serves as a reminder that groundsharing with a rugby franchise is occasionally exasperating, and that it really isn’t on for City to have to play so soon after.