1. The Hull City soap opera took plenty more turns during the past week, and not exclusively awful ones either. Defeat at Doncaster eight days ago – a comfortable loss to a side we were three divisions above last season – won’t have looked too clever to the uninitiated, but the mitigating circumstances were so substantial as to render this immediate League Cup loss oddly uplifting.
2. To see so many youth teamers eagerly snatching their chance of first team football, and playing with such determination and skill, made us feel a peculiarly paternal sort of pride. They were simply terrific, applying themselves with courage and enthusiasm. It appeared, briefly, that Doncaster’s much more experienced side may inflict a cruelly sizeable defeat when they took a 2-0 lead; to avoid that was impressive.
3. The City fans that night were magnificent too – loud, angry and passionate. There have been plenty of grumbles about the supposedly cowed nature of the Tiger Nation in recent times, which has always struck us as an exaggerated complaint – there was none of that in South Yorkshire, as we bellowed defiance to the Allams and their serial misdeeds. There’s loads of life left in us yet.
4. Not quite as vigorous was Leonid Slutsky. While not quite the suicidal-sounding incarnation that greeted radio listeners after the defeat at QPR, he continued to cut a forlorn figure after the League Cup. So it was impossible not to be delighted as much for him as for ourselves when City paggered Bolton three nights later.
5. City plundered four but could have had far more on Friday night. Kamil Grosicki’s performance was his most effective since he joined the club, setting up two goals and scoring himself. It’s a shame that such a display comes in the last game before the closure of the transfer window, as it makes it hard to shake the notion that the Pole is playing for a move away rather than for the City cause.
6. He wasn’t the only one to impress of course. Jarrod Bowen is looking like the real deal and is carpe-ing the shit out of the diem. Seb Larrson is proving to be a useful acquisition, always offering a passing option for colleagues and using the ball wisely.
7. Whatever fears City fans hold about not being able to compete for promotion this season, the Bolton game demonstrated that any fears about relegation are unjustifiable. Bolton were staggeringly bad, playing like an easy level video game opponent that offer no threat going forwards, surrender possession as soon as they go over the half way line and don’t even put up that much of a fight to contain attacks.
8. Welcome to Nouha Dicko, who joins from Wolverhampton Wanderers. A mixture of injuries and a Portuguese influx seems to have limited Dicko’s recent opportunities in the West Midlands, but he’ll have plenty here with Abel Hernandez out for 8 months. City songsmiths, you have a unique opportunity to craft a chant with dicks and sluts in it, have fun.
9. Inevitable that two games for Leicester City would prove sufficient to persuade Gareth Southgate that Harry Maguire was good enough for an England call-up, when he played last season for City just as convincingly and was evidently better than Ben Gibson, the Middlesbrough defender whose uncle gave Southgate his break as a manager. We’re aware that we’ll be easily accused of bitterness, and we’re also aware that Southgate, a decent man, has stated Maguire would have been summoned last season but for ill-timed injury, but even so, his call-up just after the ink dries on his Leicester contract feels as Typical City as it’s possible to be. That doesn’t mean we don’t wish the big man well, of course, and we hope beyond all hope that he is picked for at least one of the two qualifiers for next summer’s World Cup which England have to negotiate over the next week or so. His arrival at England HQ clutching a bin bag, like an undergraduate arriving home for the weekend with a sack of dirty washing, endeared him to the country in a way that he endeared himself to us over the last couple of years.
10. Maybe we’ll see Sam Clucas in an England shirt before long too? Certainly now that he has joined Swansea City it seems instantly more likely, just because, well, they’re not us. But beyond that, he’s another player whom we don’t blame for leaving and who can look back at his time in City colours with nothing but great pride and satisfaction. For all the poison at the very top of our club, we do seem to have employed some upstanding, agreeable young men in our first team squad in recent times.