Finally… a game of football to write about, albeit one that was the epitome of a gentle cobweb shifter.
But it was twenty-two blokes kicking a ball around, ten of whom were wearing yellow and green, and it kicked off at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon. What’s not to like.
That it was being played out while, ironically in Cardiff, England were closing in on victory in the first Ashes Test was a wonderful bonus.
As ever on such occasions, there were few conclusions to be drawn, only that the 22 City players involved (Alex Neil chose to play a different XI in each half) will be more than happy to have got 45 minutes under their belts, to have avoided injury and to have kick-started their long journey to match fitness.
For Gorleston Football Club, a bumper crowd of circa 2,400 will have swelled the coffers nicely for the season ahead although for Ricci Butler’s squad it was naturally a gargantuan leap in quality – their opening two friendlies were against Caister and Acle.
Without a doubt, Butler – whose side showed guts and tenacity – will have learned more about his players in a 7-0 defeat than Neil did about the Canaries.
But still there was enough to whet the appetite and, for the thousands of City supporters who made the short trip, a chance to see one or two faces for the first time.
For most I suspect, it was the first opportunity to see Louis Thompson in action – signed last summer by Neil Adams but loaned back for the season to Swindon – and 45 minutes were enough to tell us that if/when his services are required he will provide a combative and tenacious presence in the centre of the midfield.
For me, it was also a first glimpse of Conor McGrandles who, courtesy of the current dearth of left-backs, was asked to fill in there in the second-half. Like Thompson, he did a decent job – albeit under little defensive pressure – but will be hoping at some stage to show the gaffer what he can do in his preferred midfield position.
Two who registered on the radar of the manager, and who were mentioned in dispatches post-match, were Harry Toffolo and Jacob Murphy – the former, in particular, offering a timely glimpse of his growing maturity given the aforementioned left back issue.
With Martin Olsson still recovering from shoulder surgery – and cutting it fine to be match fit for August 8 – and Robbie Brady still appearing some way off making the trek from Humberside to Norfolk, maybe, just maybe, now is Toffolo’s time.
More of the same when the opposition get tougher will certainly do him no harm and will go some way to appeasing those of us who yearn for an FA Youth cup hero or two to ‘make it’.
The smart money of course remains on Toffolo being on the periphery of the first-team – especially if Brady does finally pitch up – but if, just for once, the trend could be bucked that would be a major plus.
Jacob Murphy, particularly off the back of his manager’s comment, will I’m sure feel it’s now time to emerge from the shadow of his twin and stake his own claim.
That City now ply their trade in the top division naturally makes such progression very difficult but his brother played several minutes in 2013/14 and Jacob’s aim must now be to do the same – as opposed to making the predicted season-long loan move elsewhere.
The norm for such David v Goliath friendlies and cup-ties is that Goliath his much to lose and little to gain, and for little to have gone wrong yesterday was about as good as it was ever going to get aside from the timely spike in match-fitness.
Other minor, random observations…
– The new kit looked quite nice (in my view)
– Ruddy’s and Rudd’s kit is *very* bright and green
– Alex Neil growls even in friendlies
– Bradley Johnson can rock a hair ‘bun’
– Some City fans take friendlies *way* too seriously __________________________________________________________________________
Other than there being little to report in the Brady saga – although Neil did confirm ‘interest’ – reports emanating from the continent and South America suggest City are closing in on the signing of Argentinian striker, Joaquin Larrivey.
At 30-years old and with a 1 in 3ish scoring rate, the Celta Vigo striker looks to be a decent alternative to City’s original target, Dieumerci Mbokani, and at a fee of around €2million will cost a fraction of the fee being mooted for the Congolese striker.
If he arrives, the big question of course will be how quickly Larrivey can adapt to the rigours of the Premier League but one suspects he’ll at least be offered more opportunities than City’s last thirtysomething Argentinian striker. At €2million it’s not too much of a gamble. _________________________________________________________________________
So, we’re finally up and running and those who have been yearning for a new signing look likely to be placated in the next day or two.
Now, nearly time to watch some cricket and to see if England can squeeze a draw out of the first Test.
Oh… hang on… 😉