More of the same, please

PUBLISHED: 15:33 12 August 2006 | UPDATED: 09:34 14 September 2010

Well, after the season opener brought a very promising performance but drew a blank at Leeds it seemed strange to be saying it but City's midweek encounter with Preston felt almost like a “must win” game, even this early on in proceedings.

Well, after the season opener brought a very promising performance but drew a blank at Leeds it seemed strange to be saying it but City's midweek encounter with Preston felt almost like a “must win” game, even this early on in proceedings. It just felt like there was a lot at stake… and not only the three points to get us up and running.

There was much to admire from Tuesday's match, not least the home debut of Lee Croft who looks quick, skilful, and to have more than a decent cross into the box, as well as seeming to be developing a good understanding with Jurgen Colin down the right side. I'm not sure though that he is in fact our only player signing to date this summer as there was surely a new midfielder wearing Francis' old number 20 on his back!

I simply lost count of how many people said words to the effect that Dickson Etuhu appeared to be a completely different player to the one we generally saw last season. He looked leaner and fitter for starters and was hungry for the ball; his passing was sharper and his overall contribution much more significant - as was that of the entire midfield if I'm honest!

This midfield had teeth, and I don't mean grinding molars that work hard but with little startling impact; these guys were real incisors at times, passing well, making space for themselves, wanting the ball, and puncturing the Preston defence time and time again! In short, they were busy and purposeful and hardly ever let Preston have much in the way of possession in the engine room.

Looking at the team that took to the field and the substitutes later on it is pretty hard to find a weak link, which is very satisfying to say and has rarely been the case in the past couple of seasons. Paul Gallacher looked comfortable between City's posts and, but for one Andy Marshallesque goal kick, put in a very solid performance, providing food for thought with Rob Green continuing to make his recovery in the background.

The only notes of concern and doubt I heard at the final whistle were about playing Rob Earnshaw alone up front when, as the home team, it was felt we should be far more positive and at least go 4-4-2, and that there were occasions, and quite a few of them, when we chose to pass backwards, then further backwards, when there were some options available further forwards. That apart, the noises from the faithful were generally positive and encouraging, and most agreed that our two “new” midfielders, Messrs Croft and Etuhu, made a lot of difference to an area of the park that we all felt was lacking bite and creativity for the vast majority of last season. More of the same against Luton this weekend please!

Those of you who read this column last week will remember that our notorious new kit took up some inches because of the delays of airport proportions relating to it and due to my welcoming of white as the new away colour. I didn't honestly expect to be writing about it again so soon, but I simply have to!

Was I the only one to notice that only Messrs Doherty, Shackell and perhaps Colin and Gallacher (to a certain extent) have knees? And poor old Earnie appears to be running around in cropped trousers, such is the length of the new shorts! Someone could have spared a though for those of the fairer sex who like to look at and compare players' legs for goodness sake! (I'm not suggesting I am one of them for one minute but - hey - when the action is turgid then it is something to pas the time!).

And as for passing the time I shall be moving house this weekend and so will miss my first game at Carrow Road for many a moon. I fear the radio commentary like I fear Christmas shopping, so will be glad to be among you all again in two weeks' time. Until then take care and OTBC.

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