McNally and Hughton continue to test the Celtic nerve as City reflect on a much improved day at the officeThu 31 Jan 13 by Gary Gowers
With City’s official website confirming the imminent completion of the Luciano Becchio/Steve Morison swap deal, the quest to land Celtic’s Gary Hooper continues.
As I write the Daily Mirror are reporting that City have now had a FOURTH bid turned down, Celtic manager Neil Lennon citing the valuation to be still well short of the level that would prompt a positive response. With the Glaswegians seemingly determined to hold out for £8 million, it appears that David McNally and Chris Hughton are circa £2 million adrift as things stand.
All of which confirms that Celtic are indeed willing to sell – previously a moot point – and that Hooper is willing to leave; the lure of at least 180 minutes of Champions League football a seemingly insufficient incentive to remain in Glasgow. One would expect – if Lennon is indeed resigned to losing his talisman striker – that a replacement is in the Celtic pipeline; without which the deal would surely be a non-starter.
The next few hours – as absurd as the January scrum is – promise to be interesting ones. So interesting in fact City have been assigned their very own Sky Sports News reporter at the gates of Colney. We have indeed arrived, but let’s pray that Hughton isn’t cunningly lured into a roadside interview through the wound-down window of his 4×4 in an ‘Arry Redknapp-style.
Birmingham’s Curtis Davies is the other name that has been mentioned with intent; our old friends SSN reporting that Norwich are ‘looking to finalise deal…’ despite Hughton alluding to BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham that this particular deal had a long way to go.
One thing is for sure… McNally will be using up all of his free calls this month, and will be having a hectic old day. Let’s hope that come 23:00 we have a content manager and CEO on our hands.
If McNally’s day in the office is as successful at Hughton’s Wednesday evening in the technical area, then it could work out fine for City.
While the reward was only a point – hard to argue that Tottenham didn’t deserve a share of the spoils – the performance level was more far akin to those of October and November. Back was the high-tempo that stood City in such good stead for the duration of the unbeaten run, along with a willingness to close down, ‘get in their faces’ and make life generally uncomfortable for the visitors.
And it worked. For the first 45 minutes few could argue (Adrian Durham aside) that City were not good value for their lead; a second goal the only thing missing from a half as good as anything we’ve witnessed this season.
The second half alas was of course a very different story – the high tempo taking its toll on the City legs – and the visitors, with a little more time on the ball, were able to make their extra class tell. There’s also no denying the quality of the equaliser – it was a gem – but I’m sure Alex Tettey was kicking himself afterwards for missing a chance to ‘unload’ Gareth Bale as he embarked on that run near halfway.
Lots of ifs and buts – as always – but a fantastic point; one we’d have surely taken had it been offered pre-kick-off.
In stark contrast to Saturday, there were many good City performances to enthuse over, not least the re-emergence of the Tettey/Bradley Johnson combination in the centre of midfield. The target of much flak over the last few weeks, the pair rediscovered their respective ‘A’ games and for the first half completely dominated their Tottenham counterparts, Parker and Dembele. Whilst the roles were reversed for the second period, there was enough grit and drive on display to suggest that they, and their City colleagues, are slowly emerging from their bleak mid-winter slumber.
Worthy also of note were the lung-bursting performances of Grant Holt, Wes Hoolahan and Robert Snodgrass – all of whom put in tireless shifts. It was therefore all the more incredulous that my post-match routine – returning to the car and switching on CanaryCall – was ruined by two callers referring to Holt as ‘lazy’! For once… words failed me.
So… the signs are promising; the shoots of recovery were there for all to see (sorry, most to see) and there was an October-type feel to the City performance. And just as well…
With QPR (a) and Fulham (h) up next, now is the perfect time to re-affirm our mid-table credentials.
Given how this transfer window has shredded the nerves one can only imagine the angst a relegation battle would evoke.
Keep the faith…