1. After the encouragement offered before the international break, City provided a chastening reminder that we aren’t very good and are in serious relegation trouble on Saturday. There was nothing streaky about the 2-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest – we were comprehensively outplayed for pretty much the entire game.
2. It started badly and never really improved. Forest looked a cut above from the very beginning, while City looked wholly ill at ease and didn’t figure in the match at all. Perhaps it was a formation thing (more on that shortly), or a personnel thing, but whatever it was, the gulf in class between City and a side that isn’t even in the top six was dismaying.
3. There is a popular trope among some City fans to decry playing one up front as too defensive and lacking ambition while championing the classic 4-4-2 line-up. Saturday’s game probably won’t change their rigid tactical thinking, but it should. Playing two up front got us nowhere, it simply meant that whenever Forest had the ball (and they did for 61% of the game), 20% of City’s outfield players were not involved in play. Neither Fraizer Campbell or Chris Martin are as mobile as they once were, and they don’t have the engines to be behind the ball when we’re not in possession and ahead of it when we are. One up front is not lacking in ambition, as five goals in the previous three games demonstrated.
4. Chris Martin, eh? He hasn’t impressed at all this season, but Saturday appeared to be a new low for a player whose loan spell with City is proving unsatisfactory for both player and club. He’s slow, has a ropey first touch and seems to have next to no understanding with any his teammates – particularly his notional strike partner Fraizer Campbell. None of this can be any fun for him, but it’s sure as hell not fun watching him a latter day Robbie Turner forlornly harrumphing his way through yet another non-scoring game.
5. Not that he’s alone. We’ll probably never understand what Kevin Stewart does, but even usually semi-reliable performers conspicuously failed to show up on Saturday. Marshall made a few good saves and was blameless with either goal – and that’s about it. Both full-backs looked uncomfortable all afternoon, Bowen was easily shackled, Campbell looked lost without any meaningful support while Grosicki – who did try to make things happen and was even spotted tracking back on occasion – failed to inspire. It was a sullen, miserable afternoon, typified by the grim scenes at the end as stadium was 99% empty by the time the final City player departed. Torrential rain was favoured over staying behind. Sad stuff.
6. It was better for the KCOM rafters hawk though, who again spent a City game skilfully de-feathering a pigeon (sending said feathers spinning onto fans in the North Stand) before feasting on entrails. Impressive stuff.
7. Though we remain a single victory from (perhaps) edging out of the bottom three, the Championship table continues to make bleak viewing. We remain on a points-per-game ratio low enough to probably send us down in May, and there’s little in upcoming games to take much comfort from either.
8. Norwich, tomorrow’s participants in what could be a record-breakingly low gate at the Circle, are in blistering form. The leaders have scored four goals in each of their last three games and won all of their last six. They obviously won’t retain that sort of form forever, and such glorious runs always do come to an end. It’d be a very courageous City fan who backs us being the ones to curtail it, however.
9. We’ve previously not been alarmed by takeover talk falling silent, but disquieting rumours have bubbled up in recent days suggesting that the deal’s in trouble. The reason is unknown, and the source of the rumours is unclear, but a low hum of concern is clearly audible.
10. This matters, because without a takeover and January investment, we’ll probably be a League One side next season. Some clarity would be very welcome.