As well as providing City with a priceless point in the quest for Premier League safety, yesterday’s draw with QPR afforded us all a stark reminder of the task ahead.
Still with a seven point cushion from the bottom three, we also find ourselves 12 points shy of the magical 40 point mark.
So… just 12 measly points from 13 games for a key to the land of milk and honey. Sounds easy doesn’t it. But we all know it’s not… far from it in fact.
The similarities between the Premier League and the Championship (and the SPL for that matter) are few and far between; even taking aside the riches on offer. The intensity and tempo of your average EPL game is what sets this league apart from all others, and is precisely what makes it such an unforgiving environment.
To win a game in the Premier League means far more than three points; the effort it takes is gargantuan and should never be underestimated. Despite what some of our friends on the national media would have us believe, there is no such thing as lucky win at that level.
The Championship – whilst arguably being one of Europe’s most competitive – does permit the opportunity to win while having an off day. Recent experience tells us that in the second tier top can indeed beat bottom – even ‘that lot’ can win 4-0 for goodness sake.
With Fulham next up, on Saturday, we do need to rediscover the winning habit. Seven long weeks without a win has given even the most positive amongst us cause to study the league table, invariably with a furrowed brow ( it’s impossible not to… try it).
That we’ve endured such a barren run and still find ourselves with a seven point buffer with those in the ‘zone’ speaks volumes; the ten game unbeaten run currently ensuring our heads stay comfortably above water.
If however, we are able to find that elusive win – not easy against one of our undoubted bogey teams – then we’ll all be able to breathe that little bit easier; not to mention be free to watch MoTD for its full duration.
Performance wise, the last two games have given cause for optimism, but until we gain a full three point haul there remains a nagging concern that City have forgotten how to win. While winning breeds confidence and – in itself- becomes a habit, losing also can become part of the weekly ritual. And my fear is this is akin to the rut in which City currently find themselves; they just need to find a win from somewhere… anywhere.
I’m not suggesting the Fulham game is of the make-or-break variety – we’re yet to reach that stage – and please let’s not even mention ‘six-pointer’, but the longer we go without a victory, the harder each subsequent game becomes.
Twitter typically prompted much debate over the merit of yesterday’s draw; a point gained or two dropped?
A spurious argument really… both views equally pertinent.
Yes, we could – and possibly should – have been beaten, especially considering the Mark Bunn penalty save, but we still created enough chances to have squeezed a win out of it.
The best chance of the afternoon – the penalty aside – fell to Wes Hoolahan, and only the continued brilliance of Julio Cesar denied him; Bradley Johnson too being denied by the Brazilian, who reportedly attracted the attention of one Jose Mourinho in the midst of the transfer window.
I think it’s fair to say the City passing never reached any great heights – retention of the ball getting progressively worse as the game wore on – but from a defensive perspective, Sebastien Bassong and Michael Turner proved an impenetrable barrier to whichever combination of strikers Harry decided to confront them with.
It speaks volumes for the fortitude of City’s defence that, despite sustained second half pressure, Bunn was less troubled than his QPR counterpart. The penalty save was a brilliant one – his second of the season – and must have struck a chord with a watching Robert Green who had little such success from 12 yards when in the Norwich goal.
So… another valuable and hard earned point as we crawl – snail-like – to safety. As things stand my glass remains half full, but this is one River-ender who’ll rest a little easier once City rediscover that currently elusive winning habit. To paraphrase another old worrier… I’d hate it – hate it – if we were to get dragged into a relegation dogfight.
But like I said, to win at this level takes such a massive effort – physically and mentally. Perhaps now is the time for a new hero to enter the fray.
No pressure then Kei and Luciano…
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