1. Oof! That hurt. What’s more, it felt depressingly like City v Burnley in 2009/10 and City v Burnley again in 2014/15, where we entered into a game against a team with an (R) next to their name on the table, with a chance to keep our fate in our own hands in the battle to avoid the drop, only to fail miserably. It goes beyond an afternoon to forget, because it will likely have repercussions far beyond the scope of one afternoon.
2. City seemed to suffer a collective mental paralysis against Sunderland. We’re used to City using the first half to merely suss the opposition under Marco Silva, but we’re not used to Silva’s City lacking purpose and conviction in the second half, and nerves appeared to get the best of players who have won games from being a goal down or with ten men of late. Against a side that have already lost Premier League status so had nothing else to lose, the importance of the game got to us.
3. It wasn’t an absolute stinker of a performance, and City were the better side for much of the game. However, a chronic lack of composure undid the side. As half-time neared, it was impossible to miss the nerves in the crowd starting to be reflected by things on the pitch. Sadly, for once, Marco Silva didn’t manage to focus minds at the interval.
4. Ahmed Elmohamady’s substitution was greeted by a chorus of boos in some parts of the ground, unquestionably aimed at the player himself. He’s had a poor season for sure, and he is perhaps the only player that hasn’t responded to Marco Silva’s appointment with an infusion of spirit and purpose, but boos still seemed an excessive reaction.
5. He certainly wasn’t the only person who stunk up the place. Alfred N’Diaye, pivotal in recent wins with his simple and effective game of breaking up opponent possession and moving City forwards, was sadly anonymous, his replacement by Tom Huddlestone was welcome, but overdue. We needed a driving force long before the 65th minute, and though Huddlestone was effective after his introduction, we needed more than his drop back and pass ‘quarterback’ style. Oumar Niasse may as well have been suspended after all, he offered little. Hell even Harry Maguire, lauded for his slightly terrifying but nonetheless exhilarating forays upfield, had a quiet afternoon.
6. What of the penalty claims during the game? The handball at the North Stand would have been harsh – it definitely struck an unwisely positioned Sunderland hand, but the proximity was such that intention cannot be divined with certainty. As for Maguire’s tug ‘n’ tumble, that was a classic deception tactic that players with large arses try regularly, and the referee was rightly not fooled. We’ve had quarrels with referees lately, but there are no legitimate grievances here.
7. Swansea, the admirable bastards, did not wilt as City upped up their game under Silva, and now go into the final two games in the driving seat, having come out of their supposedly tough games versus Manchester United and Everton with 4 points. Tottenham’s defeat at West Ham may have lanced their title aspirations, but beating them on the final day is still going to be difficult (and now the “Marco doesn’t lose at home” mystique has gone), and our away form doesn’t bode well for the trip to Palace. Meanwhile, Swansea take on Sunderland away and West Brom at home, ostensibly easier games. The single point lead Swansea now have on us can, of course, evaporate quickly, but somehow it feels mountainous.
8. There’ll be no shortage of recriminations if the worst comes to pass, most of which will be rightly be directed towards Ehab Allam’s 2016 summer of malice. For now, it’s hard not to fear the consequences. Silva will surely leave, leaving us managerless once more and quality applicants to work for Ehab in the Championship seem unlikely. The decision to soldier on with loanees means the squad will necessarily thin out, though even the City vice-chairman can probably work out which players will be staying in the Premier League with another club. Meanwhile, the epic lunacy of the membership scheme will see gates fall even more steeply, and so on and so forth. Argh.
9. Dispensing with volunteer groundstaff on Saturday with no notice? Classy stuff.
10. On Friday, the club released some minutes from its recent meeting with fans. We’re told by attendees that the content is roughly accurate, though the attendees’ hostility towards the club’s dopier antics has been underplayed. However, City’s contention that “it is not the policy of the Club to not use Hull City” is very puzzling. Unless obliged to in order to meet League and FA requirements (League tables, fixtures etc), it’s been a very long time since it was voluntarily used even once, with agonisingly convoluted means of avoiding it frequently employed. So either there has been an astonishingly lengthy and vastly improbable sequence of accidental non-use of “Hull City” stretching over a couple of years and many thousands of club utterances both large and small; or such a policy does exist and an alternative fact was presented to the supporters.