1. After the gritty win at Barnsley that entertained few but at least knocked a hefty monkey from our collective backs, City failed to build upon it on Saturday. Defeat to Nottingham Forest, fellow midtablers, was sloppy and unnecessary, and indicative of a side that’s going nowhere this season.
2. Forest are a capable but unspectacular side who unquestionably deserved to win. A 2-3 defeat may sound modestly creditable and even a little exciting, but the truth is frustratingly different. City were poor, and the narrowness of the scoreline is probably flattering.
3. Team selections cause all too many eyebrows to be raised this season, even allowing for the thin pickings Leonid Slutsky has been left with. However, those picked didn’t do enough. David Meyler, who we unconditionally adore, had a rare howler, and his rotten teatime was sadly far from unique. We looked shaky at the back, overrun in midfield and (Bowen apart) weak up front.
4. In fact, Bowen was the only outfielder who impressed. He’s a class act who many good judges thought would make the first team before long, but even his most ardent admirers couldn’t have foreseen just what a stellar impact he’d have made this season. He’s been a sensation. And increasing in value every week. Oh bugger.
4a. An honourable mention to Allan McGregor too. Like refs, you often only notice keepers when things aren’t going well for them. Well, McGregor’s not grabbed too much attention this season – but in a good way, and he had another solid afternoon on Saturday, even though he saw three goals fly past him. We aren’t missing Leicester’s third keeper at all.
5. What an anomalous player Markus Henriksen is. There had been some signs of improvement recently, a well taken goal and an assist made people wonder if we are finally going to share sight of what City saw in him in August 2016. His selection on Saturday was mystifying and his performance woeful. Players have off form games, sure, but what was more worrying was the lack of awareness and appetite when Bowen went on a stunning solo run and was setting himself up to centre the ball, all Henriksen had to do was be there to get a tap in, but instead he spectated yards away.
6. Any hopes that the Barnsley win represented a watershed moment in City’s fortunes were pulverised against Forest. There’s still a sense that if Leonid Slutsky has a philosophy, then he’s yet to fully impart it. Yes he has been treated risibly since tricked into taking the job, it was hard to disagree with his claim that he was still doing pre-season work after the closure of the transfer window, but with November upon us you would expect by now to be seeing the fruits of what the gaffer has sewn in the minds of players. Is communication an issue? Who knows, but what we saw late Saturday was an incoherent mess.
7. As usual, we cannot avoid off-field matters. The protest march first. It left the William Gemmell on Anlaby Road at 4.30pm, attracting a few hundred City fans and was well handled by all. Humberside Police provided a sizeable but unobtrusive escort, temporarily closing roads to permit a smooth journey to the West Stand, while the City fans made themselves heard forcibly but peacefully. Congratulations to Hull City Action For Change for its inception and execution.
8. They’re not the only ones ramping up the protests though. Separate to that organisation, a reprise of the 1998 tennis ball protest at Bolton (that remains one of our proudest moments was organised by others), with hundreds of vividly yellow stress balls raining down on the pitch at 19’04” to halt what was a televised game. Not all agree with it, but two things seem clear: it’s been effective, with the abysmal conduct of the Allam family that prompted it receiving national attention. Secondly, it’s absurd to suggest that City’s lousy performance was a consequence of it. It removes agency from the players, who – though limited – are generally honest triers and it’s insulting to suggest they can be so easily distracted (and why were Forest’s XI miraculously unaffected?).
9. Middlesbrough at home and then Sheffield United away, over the next few days. Even when the fixtures were announced it looked like the most appetising week of the season, taking on two sides with whom we have always encountered a bit of needle. Given that Boro are starting to show some fight for this division after a slow start, while Sheffield United top the table proudly and rather smugly after doing over Leeds United at the weekend, it’s not just an appetising week ahead, but a fairly pivotal one. Though as they are known as Boro and Blades, obviously we should beat the pair of them, shouldn’t we?
10. The tribute to Les Mutrie, courtesy of a banner, the big screens and a minute’s thunderous applause, was much appreciated by members of his family, who were present at Saturday’s game. We remain quite fortunate that unlike other clubs, we haven’t lost many of our modern day, colour telly heroes as yet, so when one genuine City legend does leave us, it’s gratifying to know we can celebrate his contribution to the club and his life as a whole with class, style and respect.