All good things… etc, but it’s no less disappointing when those good thing do come to an end.
And that nine-game winning run was a good thing. A bloody marvellous thing.
That we let slip a couple of points yesterday was not the end of the world, especially after said run has opened up a more-than-healthy eight-point lead at the top of the league, but this group deserves to be tagged ‘record-breakers’. Hopefully, that’s still to come.
Arguably a bigger blow than losing the game was, potentially, losing the services of Ben Gibson for the rest of the season. Technically on loan from Burnley he may be, but the Teessider has quickly established himself as the beating half of this team alongside Grant Hanley. They form the rock-solid base from which everything flows.
But anyone who has ever played the game knows what it feels like to roll an ankle and how long it takes to recover. As one whose left ankle had a horrible habit of doing exactly that, I felt Gibbo’s pain and our worst fears were confirmed when Paddy Davitt tweeted a picture of said injury. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re not of a squeamish disposition, it’s here.
An ‘anxious wait’ is the official line but even if it’s not the worst-case scenario of torn ligaments, I don’t see him playing again this season. Although, having said that, in terms of treatment, his will be rather more intense than mine was, which amounted to little more than 20 minutes with a physio every Monday night at Bungay Maltings!
I fear the worst but we have to hope for the best. And, anyway, we know Christoph Zimmermann is the very epitome of ‘he’ll not let you down’.
Football is odd though and does funny things to people (I’m living proof), but it was nevertheless hard to comprehend the mutterings of discontent that emanated from certain corners of social media as City dropped their first two points from the last 30 on offer.
28 points out of 30! That’s unheard of. The last time it was achieved by a City team was in 1985/86, which means you have to be at least 40 to recall it. Therefore a huge chunk of the fanbase has, arguably, have never had it so good. But still a few found a negative slant.
Of course we would all have liked to be celebrating ten in a row but this group of players have gone above and beyond. Nine wins and a draw in the space of just 35 days, and almost all of that time being perceived as the biggest scalp in the division.
These are special times to be a City supporter, even if the supporting is being done from afar, and that our lead at the top of the Championship suffered the slightest of dents as a result of another Watford win should pale into insignificance in the context of dropped points by Brentford and Swansea.
Despite only drawing we ended the day closer to promotion than we started it.
And while we’re talking context, despite Blackburn playing particularly well yesterday and being especially well organised, both with and without the ball, City hit the post, the bar and, through a sleep-deprived Emi, missed what would normally be considered a sitter in the closing minutes.
Not bad for a team that was understandably well short of its base level and light-years away from the level of that first half against Forest.
Personally, I blame our own Robin Sainty for yesterday’s ‘leggy’ display after he (quite rightly) lauded the fitness levels of the group in his EDP column. But they’re not robots and even when the legs are willing, sometimes the mind can be a millisecond behind, especially after the players have been subject to such a gruelling and intense run of games.
I jest of course. Robin was right. Chris Domogalla (club’s head of performance) has created a squad of supermen who have made the seemingly impossible, possible but they’re still human with all the frailties that come with it, and yesterday the energy levels just dipped a bit.
There was still a lovely Farkeball-esque goal to drool over and it says a lot for the fluidity and rotation that it was Kenny McLean who, after a perfectly executed one-two with Kieran Dowell, found himself the most advanced City player. His finish with his wrong foot was unerring and a just reward for some outstanding displays during the unbeaten run.
There was a certain irony in City conceding the leveller from a set-piece – something that’s been barely an issue this season after it being the Achilles heel in 2019-20 – but for Jacob Sorensen to contest Sam Gallagher in the air once the Blackburn sub was allowed to advance unchecked by the row of ‘blockers’ was a tough ask.
It was only the second goal City have conceded at Carrow Road in 2021, so let’s not get too sniffy about it.
So, we march on. Against a Blackburn side that played well, a point is far from the apocalypse, and let’s not forget that Watford need to win three more games than us in the eight that remain to even have a chance of usurping us to the title.
Not happening is it 😉