Spud Thornhill: City's roadmap to the Premier League
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
On Monday, Boris Johnson and his friends gave us a four-step road map to get us back to some sort of normality.
But before I book my haircut on April 12 or decide which pub I shall be drinking in on May 17, I may just have a little moment to myself thinking about how I won’t be watching Norwich pick up the Championship trophy on my birthday at Barnsley on May 8, or how Oliver Skipp won’t be able to appreciate a fully-packed Carrow Road crowd this season.
Throughout this season we have had the pleasure to watch, even if it’s only via TV, a young player do what many players over the years have failed to do - the job of Alex Tettey. Skipp, who may be here for only one season, has oozed class throughout and on Tuesday evening at St Andrew’s, even if he did play a part in Birmingham’s equaliser, had another outstanding game.
Many times this season Skipp has shown great discipline in his play, and was at his best on Tuesday with the high press which Birmingham’s manager Aitor Karanka got his side to play on an awful pitch.
Skipp thoroughly deserved to get on the scoresheet, especially after running 75-plus yards in the 95th minute to get up to support Lukas Rupp, who superbly and selfishly laid it on a plate for Skipp to score his first senior goal.
His man of the match awards this season, even if they are at times hijacked by Tottenham fans, show how much he is thought of, let alone the performances he has put in. I would love Skipp to stay on loan with us if we do go up, but as Spurs manager Jose Mourinho has already gone on record saying he is looking forward to him being returned to sender in the summer, I doubt this will happen.
Is it bad of me to think that if Mourinho gets the sack we may be able to keep him - or am I clutching at straws?
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Even I was slightly concerned about the first half on Tuesday as we were not playing at our best. You could tell how bad the pitch was when Emi Buendia and Todd Cantwell were struggling to get into the game, but were still able to play significant parts in Teemu Pukki’s second goal and winning the penalty respectively.
But the second-half performance really told you a lot about this team and the management. At half-time I did say we couldn’t play as badly in the second half and I was confident Daniel Farke was going to get into the players during the break and they would come out a better team.
Our game management was first class and it shows after 32 games we are the best team in this division.
With all three teams directly below us - Brentford, Swansea and Watford - winning on Wednesday and possibly all winning again before our game at Wycombe on Sunday lunchtime, our lead could be cut to four points.
Wycombe on Sunday or Brentford on Wednesday are both as important as each other. I’m sure Farke will have our boys fired up before the game so we don’t have a repeat of the first half at St Andrew’s, but there won’t be any thoughts of Brentford just yet.
Wycombe will be tough as we face them after their win against Reading in midweek. If I think of another hard-fought win like Tuesday, it was the home game against the Choirboys in October with Mario Vrancic's beautiful last-minute free-kick separating us.
But the evidence from the second-half performance at Birmingham, the team spirit for Skipp's goal and the celebrations of the players at the end of the game, shows this team is capable of producing many more three points over the remaining 14 games of the season.