1. City’s win over West Ham on Saturday was streaky, improbable and accomplished late. None of that can detract from a result of serious consequence. We’re halfway through a brace of home fixtures from which the absolute minimum requirement, given our ongoing difficulties on the road, was probably four points. Three are already banked. And the season remains alive.
2. It felt in grave danger at half-time against the Hammers. City trailed after a wretched concession and had done little to suggest that even a draw could be salvaged. It’s tempting to let the euphoria of the eventual result mask the first half, but it was low-grade stuff. Worst of all, it was puzzlingly short of urgency, as though the desperation of the situation was somehow being missed by everyone on the pitch.
3. Still, if we’re to scorn the first half, let’s celebrate the second. A half-time substitution and a tactical switch saw a major improvement, quickly culminating in a sumptuous leveller, one of those goals we’ll never tire of watching. It set us up to lay siege to West Ham, a modest team playing modestly…but that didn’t really happen. When Grosicki directed his shot wide after we had struck the post, it felt like a rare and perhaps final opportunity to pinch the win.
4. Sometimes, luck goes your way. When West Ham inexplicably switched off at a late set-piece, Andrea Ranocchia capitalised with a fine header. But for the visitors’ sudden inattention, we’d have had to settle for a draw. It’d have been costly, as we were well aware that Crystal Palace were unexpectedly leading, but it’d have had to do. Fortunately, the sloppiness City had shown with West Ham’s goal was reciprocated, and the celebrations were long and loud.
4a. Apropos the second goal, we loved the poor steward’s unsuccessful attempts to douse the flare. Crash course in sand deployment for our fluorescent-jacketed friends, please.
5. Predictably, a lot of the pre-match discussion centred upon Robert Snodgrass. That he’s been almost entirely excluded from the post-match debate is testament to what a completely anonymous afternoon he had. That isn’t a trait you’d ordinarily associate with such a fiery character, but it’s true of his display on Saturday.
6. Results elsewhere this weekend were an odd bunch. Sunderland are surely done for after their latest defeat, while a draw in South Wales was a significant missed opportunity for both Swansea and Middlesbrough – the latter are in serious trouble, while the former have gained just one point in games against M’bro, City and Bournemouth and are heading quickly back into danger. Just a shame about Palace. The neutral observer may think that two are already as good as down, and it’s a straight fight between City and Swansea for the promised land of 17th. Such an observer would have a point.
7. With the exception of Manchester City next weekend and Spurs on the last day, the run-in is decidedly kindly, on paper at least, which was something we wryly noted last summer when the fixture list was first released. The principal games marked down as clichéd “must-wins” will be those against Watford, Sunderland and, of course, that seriously troubled Middlesbrough side in just 48 hours at the Circle. They can’t score goals at the moment, have just sacked their manager and replaced him with our own former assistant manager, and are set to come up against a City side close to invincible on its own soil with a head coach who hasn’t lost a home game with any of his last three clubs since Abba split up, or something. That fighting goalless draw at Swansea, while not massively helping either side, should serve as notice to City that our midweek opponents will journey down from Teesside at least determined to scrap like mad for something.
8. So what to make of the brochure sent out to current patrons of the membership scheme? Well, the first thing to jump out is the illiteracy of whoever wrote it (and Ehab Allam’s name is on it, so perhaps he is the author). Indefinitely is ‘ indefinately’, eighth is ‘eigth’, and the difference between ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ is misunderstood, as both are used. Incorrectly. When a Premier League football club can’t be bothered to get a document proof-read, or at least run through a spell checker, it’s clear they have utter disdain for the intended audience. The timing of the brochure’s distribution is suspect too, there were 14 days between games and this brochure arrived (and was inevitably picked up by local press) the day before an important game.
9. March 2016: Ehab Allam tells the Yorkshire Post that “Clubs should be encouraged by a penalty system to ensure crowds are close to capacity. At Hull, it would put the onus on us to get things exactly right…to fine-tune efforts.”
April 2017: The latest fine tuning of efforts? To claim memberships are increasing, then announce the closure of the West Stand Upper. Every day is April Fools’ day when you’re Ehab Allam.
10. We were as stunned as anyone when Jake Livermore was picked in England’s starting XI against Germany – we had gone on record both here and in our podcast that he would be on the bench for both games – but kudos to our recently exited midfielder for not only playing, but playing well, and making the more cutting, condescending doubters admit that he might have something to offer his country after all. It’s one of those occasions where we couldn’t be more pleased to be wrong – we just wish he was still playing for us at the time Gareth Southgate decided to include him.