A soul-crushing defeat from a game we should have won felt bad enough The walk back to the car felt longer and gloomier than normal. But then to turn on the car radio and learn of the passing of a club legend…
It was difficult to process at the time… and still is.
Thankfully Mick Dennis is penning a fitting tribute to the great man, which will appear on MFW later today, and so I’ll leave the words on Martin Peters to someone who watched him from the Carrow Road press box.
All I will say is, how crazy, looking back, is it to think we had a World Cup winner in our ranks. And how honoured should we feel to have had one. That he was ever-present in two of his five-and-a-bit seasons here and that he played more times for City than he did for Spurs speaks volumes.
I’d like to think the affection that we all felt, and are feeling, for Martin Peters was reciprocated.
I hope so.
In terms of yesterday’s game, while it feels a little futile, here goes…..
First thing to say is, despite the result, I can seldom recall seeing a better individual performance in a yellow and green shirt than the one put in by Emi Buendia yesterday. Outstanding.
The biggest compliment I can pay, is that it was on a par with the shift put in by one Darren Huckerby on what was supposed to be the final game of his loan spell here against Cardiff City in December 2003. Hucks was mesmeric that day; Emi matched it yesterday.
That he didn’t end up on the winning side was a travesty. MFW’s Mike Ward called it perfectly.
— Mike Ward (@mjtward19) December 21, 2019
To be set adrift in the bottom three while Emi produces performances like that, just as the January transfer window opens. is not a great place to be. He’ll be on many a radar and rightly so.
He wasn’t alone in playing well yesterday. For the best part of an hour, there were excellent performances everywhere you looked, and a team more attuned to the brutalities of the Premier League would have gone in at half-time 3-0 up with the job done.
Instead, almost in unison, as the players sat in the dressing room awaiting their half-time team talk, 26,000 voices uttered ‘we’re going to regret those missed chances’.
And so it came to pass.
As good as City were in that first half, Wolves were awful. There was no way they were going to be that passive for the second 45. Not a chance.
The space and time afforded Hanley, Zimmermann, Tettey and Trybull in the first half disappeared – almost totally – and as a result, so too did the natural source of City’s ebb and flow. It became harder to get Emi and Kenny McLean on the ball in those dangerous pockets.
For almost all of the first-half, it was a display of 2018/19 proportions, with Wolves being opened up with the same swagger and, almost, nonchalance shown to the Championship a year ago. The space out wide offered up by the visitors playing three at the back was exploited perfectly by Max Aarons and Sam Byram, both of whom picked their time when to stay and when to go perfectly.
This Wolves team has been very expensively assembled and the club has ambitions of gatecrashing the top six, yet City were able to create chances and get in behind almost at will.
It’s hard to lay any blame at the feet of Teemu Pukki, such has been his sheer brilliance over the last 16 months, but all the good chances did all fall to him, and in his duel with Rui Patrício, it was the Portuguese international who came out on top. In addition to thwarting Pukki on four occasions, he also somehow tipped that Alex Tettey howitzer onto the post.
It was that type of a half. It should have been a 3-0 type of half.
Sadly, what followed was horribly predictable. As soon as we’d succumbed to that same short corner routine for the umpteenth time – you need two players to stop a short corner, lads – and Romain Saiss had soared higher than a stationary Byram to make it 1-1, there was an inevitability to it all.
The waning belief in the stadium appeared to be matched by a feeling of ‘here we go again’ within the group. Heads visibly dropped. No lack of effort but a lack of nous and an inability to reassert control on a game that was slipping away.
Jiminez’s winner was coming.
So, while not a second-half of Sheffield United proportions, it was one that failed to match the tempo of the first and also failed to cope with an increase in intensity from the visitors. That’s now three home games in a row where City have gone in at half-time with a lead, but from those, we’ve earned just a single, solitary point.
All of which is made more frustrating because, as we proved last week at Leicester, we’re really not far off being a good side. We’re really not. But we’re fragile. We ship too many goals are not clinical enough at the other end. It’s an unholy combination.
A look at the league table on this grimmest of days is not recommended but this group do have a habit of reigniting belief when we least expect it, so let’s all hope for a Christmas miracle.
And if Father Christmas would care to drop off a big old box of Premier League nous, I’d take that over any new signing any day.
If we don’t speak again, a Happy Christmas to you and yours, Thanks for reading.