I think it’s safe to say we’re officially safe and have been for some time if the truth be told, despite Mr Bruce saying we’re still looking over our shoulder towards those behind us before Wednesday’s win over Bournemouth.
We should be looking upwards to see if we can move even higher after a superb attacking performance against Bournemouth. But it could be said that it raised more questions about our negative approach on Sunday and the formation we played then when we can play that well under this new formation…
Whilst Sunday’s ‘attempt’ to beat Man City in the FA Cup quarter final was painful, Wednesday was a joy to watch. We looked really good and clinical. The players looked hungry and determined. It just made Sunday all the stranger for me.
Still, I’m sure we’re not complaining as another year of Premier footy was confirmed. But we showed more intent and fire in the opening 10 mins against the Cherries than we did in the full 90 against City. I know City can blow you away if you over commit and go totally toe to toe, but when you saw what we did last night does it make Sunday feel like a lost opportunity?
It was a great win in midweek and I’m not trying to turn a positive into a negative, but it’s so frustrating that we approached City so, so negatively when we can play like we did against Bournemouth.
Yes, I’m sure there’ll be those that say, “it was Bournemouth.” “They had key players missing and were playing without confidence.” But remember we were away and had come off a depressing day ourselves and we made several changes. Did the changes help? Well certainly everyone coming in didn’t let us down.
For me, the performance was based around so many positives. Lascelles, Shelvey and Saint-Maximin were the stars of the show without a doubt. But the way the rest played and in particular Bentaleb, Joelinton, Gayle (what a recovery after Sunday – he now has 2 Premier League goals in successive matches) and Longstaff (whilst he was on) paved the way for the big performances.
Then of course, two of our substitutes came on played well and scored with Lazaro in particular doing what we hoped he could do and needed to do to push his claims for a permanent move here or elsewhere.
So, Mr Bruce? How could he get it so right last night yet so wrong on Sunday?
I do presentations on unconscious bias and how we should never use historical data or preconceived ideas to shape our future. Perhaps Mr Bruce gave City too much respect and admiration and had already decided we couldn’t beat them at their own game. But the way we knocked the ball around last night does make me wonder that we should definitely have a better go on Sunday.
The same result may well have happened. Probably would have. But we’ll never know now will we.
So, yes give our manager all the plaudits for what happened at Bournemouth but also remember what we did and could have done against City.