Things We Think We Think #252


1. City’s 3-1 defeat at Stoke followed a depressingly unaltered template. Play well for long periods against beatable opposition, miss chances, concede softly a few times, go home with zero points.

2. The bad bits first. City defended hopelessly in the early stages of the match, and although they became less awful once the game was about a quarter through, a cheap concession always felt likely – particularly with City looking wide open on both wings. We wondered partway through the first half whether at least two goals were going to be needed just for a point. In the end, even that wouldn’t have done.

3. Harry Maguire on the right? Well, he’s surprised a lot of people this season, but this was an assignment too far. Stoke sensibly targetted the flank he was patrolling, and enjoyed success throughout. With Omar Elabdellaoui absent through injury and Ahmed Elmohamady’s sad decline showing no little prospect of being arrested, you can perhaps see what the manager was thinking. However, round pegs, square holes…

3a. Moses Odubajo: how we have missed you.

4. The good-ish. After a horrible start, City controlled the game from about 25 minutes until Stoke brought on Crouch and Walters, which unnerved Silva’s men to a ridiculously disproportionate extent. It’s a City we often see on the road: calm, capable, able to dictate the game (even if only at a modest tempo) and able to create chances. This is a team with plenty of talent and an underrated capacity for attractive football. For that half-hour either side of the break, we were very enjoyable to watch, and well worth the equaliser when it came.

5. However, too many chances weren’t taken, again. Niasse has broadly impressed since his arrival, and he’s taken some sharp opportunities during that time, but he was disappointing in front of goal at Stoke. Hernández, benched for the day, would surely have fared better.

6.  It isn’t an ambitious way of looking at things, but it feels like the rest of City’s season could come down to matching Swansea’s results. Viewed through that prism, their defeat at West Ham made for a successful weekend, despite our frustrations in the Potteries.

7. City seem determined to salvage their Premier League status through home games alone, and with Tottenham now a fully fledged title contender, the prior home games against Watford and Sunderland, while both eminently winnable, are going to be tense affairs indeed.

8. There was an odd story over the weekend in the national Daily Mail about Marco Silva potentially being appointed last summer, but not being recruited for fear of “antagonising” fans. The proposition in this argument is patently false – the lamentable Allam family have never worried about antagonising City fans, and as their present actions demonstrate, they appear to actively relish it. However, although it carries no supporting quotes for this fantasy, it’s fairly specific in its contentions, which chiefly suggest that Ehab Allam is a man of both rare vision and acute sensitivity. He’s obviously neither, and it appears to us that this tall tale was fed to the media by someone at the club, in a fairly transparent and unsubtle manner. Ehab, or a lackey of Ehab’s? We’d love to know.

9. If managerial decisions are actually being turned over to the fans… the fans have been saying for a few weeks that Silva should be tied to a new deal now, not when he’s a free agent coveted by a string of other Premier League clubs.

10. Congratulations to Brighton & Hove Albion on their long overdue promotion to the Premier League. Like us, they had to hit the very bottom before they could start their rise to the top, with unscrupulous owners, ridiculous stadium politics and a community that seemed to be apathetic at best, especially when it came to getting their current stadium okayed. We remember Brighton fans, despite their own troubles, dropping change into buckets when we needed it, and for that alone we salute them heartily on their day of celebration. Our fingers are crossed that we’ll be meeting each other next season.

10 replies
  1. Michael Coates
    Michael Coates says:

    Very interesting reading especially re the Allams & Silva. I think most fans now expect us v Swansea to who goes down.
    So it’s the three home games going to be crucial, just hope it doesn’t depend on the Spurs last home match though !

  2. Jimmy Weekly
    Jimmy Weekly says:

    I wouldn’t fancy Palace’s run-in. 6 games left, still to play Man City, Man Utd, Liverpool, Spurs.

  3. Martin
    Martin says:

    Wish I could be as keen on Brighton, they were quick enough to drop their ‘whistle’ protest as soon as they got a goal against us.

  4. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    Particularly after last night’s result at Boro it is a fair conclusion to suggest that as long as we score at least 1 more point than Swansea over the remaining fixtures we are safe, and actually given that the GD between the 2 clubs is almost the same we might not have to do that. We could stay up and score 2 points less. Given what Palace did to Chelsea and Arsenal, while their run in is by far the most difficult they have a points cushion now that should see them secure.
    The game against Stoke is the same old story, and I’m not just talking about this season. We simply don’t have players that can score with any kind of consistency and regularity. Yes Abel had a good season in the Championship but in the PL, particularly of late, he just doesn’t look like having an eye for goal. I would have chosen Niasse ahead of Hernandez last Saturday, although I wouldn’t have expected him to have such a bad game.
    The Watford game will be interesting in defence. Clearly Harry was put on the right to accommodate Dawson in a CB position, however there has been little wrong with the Frog/Harry pairing in previous games and I would expect Marco to revert to this formula for Watford.
    As I am sure many of us do on an almost daily basis, I am playing the predictor game for the remaining 5 fixtures for both us and Swansea. I think both teams have got 7 points in them. Clearly we have the edge because of our 2 point cushion and much better recent form but form can change and it is going to be a precarious wait.
    However let’s look on the bright side, last Christmas who would have thought we would be in control of our own destiny and on paper at least not favorites to go down. So for all our jangling nerves I think I prefer this emotion over resigned despair.
    The next thing to worry about is whether we can hold on to Marco, but let’s leave that for another day…….

  5. JohnK
    JohnK says:

    Oh and one other point. I think Hull City supporters should spare a thought for Birmingham City supporters this morning. As we all know Gary Rowett was relieved of his duties when in 7th place in the Championship just 3 points off 3rd to be replaced by Zola, who managed just 2 wins from 24 games. Yesterday Zola conducted an exercise in DIY sacking and this morning has been replaced by Harry Rednapp until the end of the season.
    Now I like ‘Arry, he’s a guy I am sure I could be entertained by with behind the scenes football stories and anecdotes all day long, even if he would be leaning out of his car window while telling them but please tell me how out of the jaws of a potential promotion push Birmingham’s owners could be responsible for such a debacle. They are now in a relegation fight, just 2 points from safety.
    So as they say in life… never have to look too far to find somebody in a worse position than yourself. The only problem is that examples like Birmingham City probably make Ehab think he is doing a half decent job.

  6. gjhdurham
    gjhdurham says:

    Just below the surface there seems to be a bit of complacency. Few seemed to recognise the danger posed by Middlesbro’ with their 2 games in hand, and seeing the highlights they could easily have beaten a poor Arsenal last night.
    Getting it right against Watford and Sunderland at home is going to be critical, so that what others do doesn’t matter. We need to stay out of the bottom 3!
    Therefore, Re 2, Silva needs to do better on the selection and tactics front. Think the author of this article was a bit kind to him. For me he was more concerned with his own team selection…which was poor. He didn’t pay enough regard to the way Stoke play, and specifically how to negate Shaqiri and Arnautovic. If we’re to pick up a point or two away…and I think we’ll need to…then he’ll need to consider the negative aspects of away play in the PL a bit more IMO. At home we can’t let the likes of Deeney and Defoe have too many chances that’s for sure. Can’t have too many standing around sulking because they didn’t get a free kick!
    As to the newspaper article…nothing new to see there from that rag…or to get worked up about wrt conspiracy theories. It’s just old stuff respun. Don’t know how folk can obsess about the owners at this critical time on the field. COYH.

  7. Jonjo
    Jonjo says:

    I thought the HDM were bad. Why do Amber Nectar think they own the club and have a right to question every decision?

    Marco could have been with us a lot earlier. I know this for a fact. The owners were talking to him long ago about it. And they cannot sign him unless he decides to stay unless we stay up and they enforce the contract clause which would crazy if he elected to leave anyway.

    The Allan’s brought you Marco Silva and chose not to support a manager who is clearly failing now in the Championship. We’d definitely be down if we still had Bruce.

    But some prefer a failing manager to a brace decision resulting in an amazing find.

  8. WSM
    WSM says:

    Jonjo, questioning the decisions of managers, owners and sometimes players is part and parcel of being a football supporter. And thankfully you don’t have to own a club to do it. If Amber Nectar didn’t question things I wouldn’t read and listen to them.

    But which particular questioning are you referring to here? I don’t remember anyone saying don’t recruit Marco Silva.

  9. Officer Crabtree
    Officer Crabtree says:

    So the club can’t be questioned, Jonjo? What nonsense.

    What I, and many others, were annoyed about was the article claiming that Marco Silva wasn’t appointed as the club’s manager because of fan pressure. That’s nonsense too. Any clamour to appoint Mike Phelan only came around late August (when the transfer window was about to close), when he’d managed to get some incredible results out of a squad that the Allams had allowed to get to the ‘pathetically thin’ stage, something we’re still paying the price for now. For the vast majority of the summer months the fans would have welcomed Silva or any other manager (within reason) with open arms, as it would have represented stability and us getting on with our quest for survival. Many of the ‘demands’ for Phelan to be appointed were just because we wanted someone, anyone, to get the job. All of this is just the Allams or someone connected with them being frugal with the truth. Again.

    As for stating we’d definitely be down under Bruce, I was aware of the guy’s limitations as much as anyone, but making such statements is ridiculous. You nor I have any idea how we’d have been doing this season with a decent summer of recruitment and stability behind us.

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