For all the whys and wherefores, but for 60 seconds of sheer madness we’d be mulling over a win today.
City would be sitting in eleventh – one place below but on the same points as Villa – and would be four wins and a draw away from forty points.
All of which is totally irrelevant because the worst did happen – it wasn’t just a nightmare – and we did surrender three points to the team that started the day bottom of the league; the fact City played quite well for 94 of the 95 minutes of no consolation whatsoever.
It wasn’t perfect by any means – still the ball was given away too frequently – but it was shaping up to be a West Brom-type away-day where they nicked an early goal, soaked up the pressure and, crucially, looked a real threat on the break.
But no. A wayward pass from Gary Hooper here and some schoolboy defending there and it was all over. The good work undone in an instant… literally.
For once, Chris Hughton was decisive over his substitutions and the triple change with a quarter of an hour remaining did give City an impetus that had waned horribly in the aftermath of the Bellamy-Jones salvo.
But it still wasn’t enough. Predictably, an ex-City keeper by the name of Marshall looked unbeatable in the opposition goal and when we did manage to get the ball in the net it was from an offside position.
Whether Hughton will have seen enough from the permutation he stumbled across in the last fifteen minutes to persevere with something of that ilk remains to be seen but – while it was only for a short spell when chasing the game – there appeared an urgency hitherto unseen.
Perhaps I’m clutching at straws – probably am – but I can’t have been the only one thinking ‘if only’ as they bombarded the Cardiff goal Alamo-style.
And of course, I shouldn’t get too carried away. After all we were ‘bombarding’ the 20th best team in Premier League. But right now I’m prepared to cling on to even the most slight crumb of hope.
Up until now I’ve deliberately avoided talk of the ‘nightmare run-in’ because, as last season demonstrated, odd things happen in those last few games. I’ve been content to think however daunting those four games appear on paper, by the time they arrive the landscape may have shifted.
But now, for obvious reasons, they can’t be ignored. Not least because we have only managed to wrestle two points from those in the top eight. Doesn’t bode well does it.
I was recently chatting to a Liverpool writer, when typically the subject of the relegation free-for-all came up. His take on City’s plight was less than optimistic, mainly because ‘they don’t appear to have a David v Goliath type win in them’. Instinctively I did the growling thing (wouldn’t we all?) but as things stand his ‘concerns’ are justified.
Yet, armed with those bedraggled straws, I still believe we have at least one of those in us.
Illogical? Wishful thinking? Probably, but without them there’s is no denying we are staring down the barrel of you know what.
So, fourteen games to go. If we concede that the last four are ‘write-offs’ (still not totally convinced) that means ten games remaining from which we need to cobble together sixteen points.
A tall order, even for the glass half-full brigade. All of which makes yesterday’s defeat ever more galling.
I’m not in the habit of agreeing wholeheartedly with your average ‘canary-caller’ but the gent who said last week, on the subject of Cardiff (a), ‘if you’re not going to win there, when are you going to win away…’ had a point.
And we should have won. Yet we’re again talking about snatching a defeat from the jaws of victory.
I’ve avoided talk of the manager. If the board deemed change to be necessary they would have acted by now and so to dissect the formations and personnel seems a little futile right now. We’re in the realms of needing points, almost regardless of how they are achieved.
Which is just as well, because it’s pointless pretending that yesterday’s starting XI filled me with joy. A centre-mid combo of Alex Tettey – who in fairness was excellent – and Bradley Johnson is not going to be adept at keeping the ball, let alone unpicking a lock or two, and while they’re both bursting with energy I don’t see too much invention.
It was also an XI that lacked horribly in pace. But, for now, I’ll assume Team Hughton’s starting line-up was one intended to ‘do a job’ rather than be their vision of the future.
I look forward however to a day when Hughton fields a team that’s brimming full of good technicians and has a sprinkling of ‘flyers’, and relies less on muscle and effort.
A little simplistic perhaps, and easier said than done of course, but until that day we have to brace ourselves for more of the same. And hope that’s enough to see us limp over the line.
Alas, as far as yesterday is concerned we have no option but to dust ourselves down and go again; the prospect of even an Aguero-less Man City next weekend not particularly palatable. But wouldn’t it be great if – for once – we could buck the trend, win one ‘against the head’, turn the form book upside downside or embrace the role of ‘David’.
All too often this season City have done the expected. Almost every week in fact.
In the build-up to yesterday’s game all the talk among City supporters was around how difficult an afternoon it was going to be. With their new signings chomping at the bit to impress Mr Tan everything pointed to a Cardiff renaissance. And sure enough…
If asked to predict headlines that would adorn the newspapers and web pages post-match I suspect we’d have offered something of the following ilk:
“Cardiff new boys enjoy dream debuts against Norwich”
“Jones hits winner on debut to boost Bluebirds survival chances”
“Debutants shine as Bluebirds fight back to sink Canaries”
“Solskjaer delighted with his debutants”
And sure enough.
This trend of being the team to play if you want to end a barren run has to end. So too being the hapless victims of the big boys.
We need grit. We need fight. But most of all we need goals. And while the closing stages of yesterday suggested there is still a little of the first two still in the tank, minus a magic wand the third is in worryingly short supply.
Gutierrez and Yobo were sensible additions, but I’m wondering if what we really needed was a Dynamo.