The omens were not good. I set out for The Carra dressed as an old scarfer (I’m sixty today so I’m entitled to) because it was bloody freezing. The first gloves of the season were deployed.
A few doors down a neighbour and big City fan was cleaning his taxi. “Going today?” I asked.
“No. We had two tickets for £20 each offered to us but we can’t really be bothered.”
Oh well, fair enough. Sometimes I can scrounge a lift from him, but obviously not on Saturday.
Walking past The Ribs, a couple of local guys noticed my scarf and cheekily said: “You’re going the wrong way mate”.
Everywhere along my route the atmosphere was pancake flat until I got to that well-known supermarket opposite the ground. Enjoying a final smoke on one of their seats before the kick-off I was joined by an elderly couple from Swaffham, who said basically that as disappointed as they were, they’d keep coming while they were physically able to. Total respect to them for that.
Somewhat buoyed by the conversation I went in, spoke to some folks and took my seat. No OTBC, again.
But the Lower Barclay Boys were singing and my mood rapidly improved. No discernible abuse directed at Alex Neil; I was pleased about that too.
We were pretty good at the beginning. James Maddison’s sublime effort, taken from in front of the Snakepit, was a beauty.
It kind of made up for poor old Josh Murphy’s cock-up when Wesley put him through. His confidence is surely shot because he didn’t shoot when he should’ve shot, if you see what I mean.
And then it all went wrong – very wrong. From that moment on, what would eventually transpire became increasingly inevitable.
It may be my imagination, but from that point on we seemed to get nothing from referee Robinson. Quite the reverse in fact.
The Preston chances racked up; one had to go in and it did. We were lucky it was only one.
As Gary said in his article yesterday, we rarely win second balls. That midfield is so physically lightweight it cannot compete at Championship level – and oh boy do other teams know it, so they overload us.
If not for Angus Gunn, we would have lost it at the death.
Lower mid-table is stamped all over us.
As for Gary’s comments about Nelson Oliveira I’d say fair enough. I would only add that playing that lone role for NCFC is one of the most thankless of all footballing tasks. There is almost never a midfielder in a position to run onto a flick-on and we are so narrow we might as well be a pair of drainpipe trousers (ask your grandad).
And when a ball is pinged at Nelson, there’s seemingly always at least two giant centre backs lurking to intercept it.
Sure it was good to see Alex Pritchard back – I think he had only our second on-target effort in the entire game.
When the injuries (Klose, Tettey, Trybull, forget the rest) diminish that will be a true test of project Farke. It shouldn’t be long now.
The omens came back to roost when the first email I opened after I returned home was from a mate who said he had actually paid for two £24 tickets but couldn’t be bothered to go at the last minute…
It’s impossible for me not to end with a personal view on the Spud Thornhill thing.
Some reports elsewhere said he was “forced” into fourth officialdom.
Now I’ve never met the fella but I do know people who have and I am reliably informed he would have enjoyed every second of it. And so he should. Well done mate and enjoy your unexpected moment in the limelight.
What worried me a little though was the fact we couldn’t hear the tannoy announcement in the Barclay – hence the chant of “what the flip is going on” from downstairs. I’m glad it wasn’t an important safety announcement.
Sort it out, City.
Anyway, well done Spud.