Not been a bad week has it?
With Premier League safety assured and the FA Youth Cup now nestling safely in the Carrow Road trophy cabinet, attention has already turned to the summer transfer conveyor belt – the final hurrah at the Etihad seemingly rendered almost incidental.
Except in the cash-riddled world that is the FA Premier League, Sunday’s game is anything but.
With each finishing position worth an additional £755K there is little chance of Chris Hughton – or more likely David McNally – permitting a West Brom style no-show, and with 10th place potentially up for grabs the travelling Yellow Army should at least be guaranteed a ‘performance’.
The opposite end of the spectrum – if every result were to go against City – could see them slump to 17th; the difference between the two finishing positions a staggering £5.3M. Hardly small change and not incidental by any stretch of the imagination.
So, while we can rest safe in the knowledge that events in Eastlands will have no impact on whether next season we dine at The Ivy, with the likes of Chelsea, or at a ‘greasy spoon’ – with the likes of Ipswich – it will impact on Hughton’s summer transfer kitty.
While the requests for a few of Monday’s heroes to be rewarded with inclusion in Sunday’s squad were laudable enough – some bizarrely taking to Twitter to suggest this to McNally – I suspect the sums in question will be sufficient to prevent too much experimentation.
As much as we’d love to see Carlton Morris give Vincent Kompany a run for his money, the Murphys terrorise Zabaleta and Clichy, and Cameron McGeehan run circles around Gareth Barry (a la Özil in the 2010 World Cup) we’ll have to wait a season or two for that pleasure.
Their time will come – I feel it in my bones – but I doubt it will be on Sunday.
Instead I expect the gaffer to demand ‘more of the same’, with those who performed so well over the last two home games (despite losing to Villa defeat most agreed it was one of 2013’s better performances) being given another chance to prove that, with the shackles off, they are capable of playing some decent stuff.
Whether it will be enough to prise a point (or three) away from the former champions remains to be seen, but there have certainly been worse times to visit the house that Sheik Mansour built; second-place already assured for the former charges of Mancini and Platt.
But before we get too carried away, one look at Man City’s home record – 14 wins, 3 draws and 1 defeat – proves that demotivated, rudder-less ex-champions will still prove a very tough nut to crack, even when they include said Mr Barry plodding around their midfield. Chuck into the mix a home goal-difference of +27 and everything points to a long, potentially bloody, Sunday for Hughton’s men.
At least any wound will be only superficial and perhaps – in this craziest of seasons – there is one final twist; one that will reward the long suffering, yet magnificent Yellow Army.
While, in reality, tenth place is a tad aspirational – it would require, amongst other results, a Reading victory at Upton Park – it would be fantastic to emulate last season’s 12th place finish, not least to remind a certain Scotsman there is indeed life after him (yes I know I should move on, but that 2-1 defeat still rankles).
As mentioned earlier in the piece, the transfer rumour mill – three days before the season ends – is already in full swing. If we’re to believe all we read on Twitter, the message-boards and the oracle that is talkSPORT we’re already planning bids for Porto’s Steven Defour and Barcelona B’s Luis Alberto; Thomas Hitzlsperger, lately of Everton, also having been mentioned in dispatches.
Clearly this is just the tip of a very large iceberg and you don’t need to be Adrian Durham to realise literally hundreds of names are going to get bandied around between now and when the transfer window closes on 2nd September. While there is an obvious temptation to go out and get ‘Hitzlsperger’ printed on the back of your new City shirt (I wonder if McNally’s finely tuned financial acumen extends to any new signing having three or more syllables in their surname) I’ll wait until they’re pictured holding the shirt before I look them up on Wikipedia.
On the subject of the new kit, what do we think? Or do we actually care?
Judging by the number of web pages devoted to the cut and colour of Errea’s latest offering, it seems I’m a little out of step in remaining indifferent to the amount of green, the length of the shorts and the shade of yellow. I can only assume it’s my age that rendered the raging debate way over my head, my only comment being the club’s most successful season, 1992/93, was achieved wearing a kit described as ‘bird poo’.
The ‘Dare to Dream’ video that accompanied the kit launch on the other hand…
With a sense of humour and the ability to laugh at oneself a rare Premier League commodity, City have again managed to buck the corporate, strait-laced trend of their peers.
We have much to be proud of.
On the Ball City.