Talk of flip flops and beaches may be over-egging it – certainly over-egging it in fact – but that human trait of needing an incentive and edge to perform at your best is making away games a tough watch right now.
That City were grateful to emerge from the Stadium of Light with a point, and didn’t suffer the ignominy of being doubled by the Black Cats, was something of a bonus – all from a night when a line-up resembling the one that lost at QPR performed, for spells, like the one that lost at QPR.
I didn’t, however, have a particular problem with Daniel Farke deciding to shake things up after Saturday’s win over Villa. To ‘keep a winning side’ when there’s a greater need to rest tired limbs, experiment and offer game time to those on the fringes is a fair shout in my book. It’s just little consolation to those who braved a damp, miserable Tuesday evening and were rewarded with something a far cry from the Villa performance.
But it was a point, not a defeat, and at least those hardcore 500+ didn’t have to make the trip home in the early hours with that gnawing pain that accompanies away-day deflation. They were the real heroes to emerge from last night.
In truth, it could have easily have been a win they were mulling over on their travels home, such was the ease with which City created and then missed chances, but Sunderland themselves will point to an Aiden McGeady penalty that slammed against the post, which, as it transpired, would have won the game for them.
It was one of those nights. Not high on quality, but a game that was open – too open – and could, to coin a cliché, literally have gone either way. Yet the missed opportunities that were shared between Messrs Maddison and Oliveira were of the sitter variety.
A clinical touch in front of goal will unquestionably be something that Team Farke will be looking to add to the group over the summer months, but what is pleasing is that in general chances are now being created with greater frequency.
There was a spell in the bleak midwinter when goalscoring opportunities were so rare, them being clinically taken was the least of our problems but, particularly on the road, the chances tend to be there now.
There was little arguing over City deserving their point last night, even though they did leave it very late, and ditto the hunger in this bunch even with the season meandering to a close.
Ivo Pinto’s finish was a good one but equally significant were the celebrations that followed, which included his compatriot. This was not a group who have thrown the towel in and, whatever the reason, Nelson Oliveira appears one who has rediscovered his appetite. Maybe it’s shop window syndrome but he put in a good shift last night, the misses aside.
One other thing to emerge from last night was that Marcus Edwards’ loan spell has been brought to a premature end and he’s returned to Spurs.
No big surprise, the lad is clearly talented but the fact it appears he came here for little more than a telling off suggests there are issues that extend beyond his ability to perform on the green stuff.
But no harm done. Just a shame we weren’t able to benefit, even for a couple of months, from that talent.
In terms of Sunderland, while the Friendship Trophy has never really floated my boat, it’s hard to watch a club of their ilk struggle. We’ve been there of course and it’s rotten but while there may be some pain along the way they’ll get back to where they want to be… eventually.
In this second career of mine, the nicest people I’ve worked with outside of the Fine City are Sunderland folk. And I feel for them.
So … the clock now ticks to Warnock time. Anyone who witnessed his meltdown at the end of Friday’s defeat by Wolves will know the dear boy is getting a little edgy.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if we were to add to that 😉