Pruning needed to make City flourish

Regular readers of this column will remember my post-Burnley comments about studio commentators saying "they haven't scored for so many games", and my retort "they will tonight then", and so on (and they did).

Regular readers of this column will remember my post-Burnley comments about studio commentators saying "they haven't scored for so many games", and my retort "they will tonight then", and so on (and they did).

Well I've never considered myself particularly superstitious, except when I picked up a penny outside the ground before the West Brom game last season, kissed it when we went a goal down, did the same when we went 2-1 down, and again at 2-2 when I thought it might just help us get the winner - and we all know what happened, don't we?

Apart from that I can see the sense of walking under ladders for the most part, don't bat an eyelid at the prime number in between 12 and 14, and think that a little salt is too good on chips, with vinegar, to be wasted on being hurled over either shoulder.

So why oh why did I have such a sense of foreboding in the middle of last week when reading that Preston were scraping the barrel to find any strikers to field against us?

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Perhaps it was this sneaking feeling that somehow we might just find a way to make this fact almost irrelevant. . . and we did by handing them two nicely-taken own goals when under pressure from their stand-ins up front.

The way I have had intuitive feelings about all things yellow and green lately it might be worth the club paying to put me up in a luxury hotel somewhere on an exotic beach so that I cannot hear television commentators, find lucky (or unlucky) pennies, or read the news that emanates from other clubs during the build up to their games against us.

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(I hear that Barbados is rather nice at this time of year and there's no chance of me causing anything bad to descend upon the boys from that range.)

Well, suffice to say that our play-off hopes went into the dustbin last weekend along with the left-over hotpot, not that they hadn't already faded during previous weeks as those that were already up there continued to more-or-less maintain their advantage over us.

And so as we face another season in the Championship all thoughts begin to turn to the summer and the necessary rebuilding and shaping that must be done. Whether to turn the back lawn into a circular spectacular instead of a rectangular bore; contemplating garage orienteering in order to find the pressure washer so that the patio can be restored to it's natural buff colour, and taking charge of the secateurs so that various shrubs can be sensitively pruned instead of scalped to the point of annihilation.

Now I have no idea if a certain Mr Worthington would like to borrow any of the said items in order to reshape, lighten or indeed prune the team, but I do feel that it is unlikely to be a summer of 'no change because all is rosy in the garden'. Trouble is, as we have maybe seen this season, there can be knock-on effects if there is too much upheaval in a short space of time - and therein may lie one of the reasons for our very disappointing inconsistency, although that should not be allowed to mask other possible much talked about candidates when fans ask the question 'why?'

And there will, of course, be those wondering if the manager should be left as head gardener at all, preferring another to come in and see if his own particular mix of John Innes No1 and Miracle Gro might actually bear fruit by this time next year and see us back at the Chelsea Flower Show once more, instead of having our single stall at the Crewe and Cheshire Show, fun though it undoubtedly is at these more 'real' events.

My own take on this, for what it is worth, is that we will see no change for now for stability's sake if nothing else; however, if the blooms are well faded come October and there are no signs of new growth upwards (in table terms at least) then I can perhaps see someone influential emerging from the shadows with a large bottle of weedkiller, and applications for a new green-fingered one being invited. But not yet.

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