1. There was nothing unsurprising about City’s non-attentive performance at the Etihad on Saturday. Manchester City may have been off form prior to us popping across the Pennines, but we have a fetid smell seemingly following us around the country right now, and we should be grateful that many of the hardest away games of the campaign came at times when seasons weren’t going to be defined.
2. There were dabs of light in the City display, but ultimately better players beat us. That we managed a late consolation, thereby ever so slightly reducing the impact on our execrable goal difference, pays a small tribute to our team’s perseverance (though more likely Marco Silva’s insistence we play a proper 90 minutes, whatever is going on) while also making Pep Guardiola entertainingly tetchy in his post-match interviews.
3. Michael Dawson is a fine player, a consummate defender and a great example to young players everywhere. But he isn’t among our best two centre backs any more (as isn’t Curtis Davies), and the absence in Manchester of the injured Harry Maguire, and the buckles he tends to conclusively swash in games, was truly notable.
4. Maguire was colossal, again, as City beat Middlesbrough on Wednesday night and to finally see him notch up his first Premier League goal in what was a thoroughly engaging game, and display, was marvellous. The result itself was significant, as the spirit of Middlesbrough seemed to go that night at the Circle, and now it feels like City only have one relegation place to avoid.
5. Maguire’s header against Middlesbrough understandably made the highlights reel, but we could watch THAT pass for the third goal without ever growing tired of it. If Andrés Iniesta or Paul Scholes had picked that out, the world would coo. Well, it damn well should over that, because it wasn’t a diminutive midfield schemer managing it, but a colossus of a centre-back.
6. A fascinating aspect to that victory was that even Middlesbrough’s opening goal didn’t visibly dent the confidence in the team, or the stadium. City’s remarkable home form is not merely a happenstance of statistics, it’s increasingly a matter of belief.
7. Meanwhile, the peculiar hell that is Sunderland’s 2016/17 season shows no signs of improving, and they’re now a distant ten points behind City and from safety. What impact – if any – could them being relegated before they even play us next month have? Perhaps it could go either way. They’ll either be so deflated by their pitiful relegation they’ll accommodatingly capitulate, or may finally show up and play as soon as it no longer matters. The former would be preferable, obviously.
8. As for the earlier part of what is now officially (according to Sky Sports, anyway) the run-in, we have Stoke away, Watford at home and Southampton away, prior to that game against the doomed Mackems. The home game is eminently winnable; the away games, yet again, are where we should have enough about us to compete for at least a point, even if our away record in recent months is something on the imperfect side. Imagine what seven points from nine would do prior to Sunderland making their reluctant trip down the A19.
9. It’s hard to know what to make of the lack of progress towards a new contract for Marco Silva. The Allam family are not renowned for valuing valuable employees, however his impact has guaranteed Silva options aplenty should there be a parting of the ways in summer. It’s understandable that all parties may wish to wait for the determination of our “divisional status”, as the club’s semi-literate membership brochure would call it – but it’s abundantly clear that there’s something special about this manager. Given that, we should be making the first move.
10. Yesterday marked three years to the day that the FA rejected Assem Allam’s imbecilic name change idea. Think it’s irrelevant? The club still refuse to use their own name on anything unless obliged to by the FA/PL, the fans’ Twitter hashtag remains unused and the YouTube channel still alludes to a fiction of his feverish imagination. It’s as relevant as ever. Now, and forever, No To Hull Tigers.