Well, yes it was. Roger East’s outstretched pointy hand seemed to confirm it, only for my heart to react shortly after my eyes realised he was pointing for a goal kick.
A penalty awarded in the dying seconds would have been gut-wrenchingly unkind, but a foul is a foul, be it the first minute or the last, so perhaps we dodged a bullet with that one, unlike against Stoke where a similar lunge from Stones on that occasion got a toe to the ball, and an unjust penalty awarded against us, and a defeat. So perhaps this was a point gained?
Of course, a penalty award would not have guaranteed a defeat, although you’d have backed Kun to have scored….until you realised he was up against the super-human goalkeeper with immense character (imagine the Spanish accent yourself), the almighty that is Tim Howard. Ok, maybe not, and as the saying goes “one swallow a summer doesn’t make” (was it Yoda that said that?), but even the most rabid Howard-haters had to wipe away at their frothing lips and admit our Yank (not rhyming slang) had an immense game, and I’m pleased for him, and by implication pleased for Bobby Brown Shoes too. I still put myself in the “drop Howard for Joel” camp, and I think the Spanish stopper has been incredibly unlucky not to have had more PL action on the back of his League Cup exploits, or any action for that matter. But the Twitter-storm against Howard that showed no signs of abating until Osman’s selection distracted everyone for a while, has in my humble opinion, gone too far. The point has been made, we all know he’ll be leaving in the summer, or at the least we all know he’s probably going to play every PL game for the rest of the season, so let’s stop the ridiculous ridicule, the ironic cheering, and get behind him. I may even have missed a banner behind a plane. Every player plays better with confidence, and the one who needs it most is your keeper, so continual calls for his head on a plate is counter productive, and all that will do is cause errors which will cost us points. So let’s try and support him; Martinez’s faith on him seems unshakeable, and last night it was justified, and if that’s the start of a purple patch until the end of the season, I for one will be delighted to have been proven wrong about who should be our No1. I certainly was last night, and justified my hideous 3 hour trip to the Etihad.
As I’ve said before, conceding goals is not just down to the keeper, and last night we looked much more solid. In part this was down to the calming influence of Jagielka, in part to the destructive axis of Barry and the once more excellent Besic, and in part due to the refusal to commit our full backs too far forward, but it was an all round defensive masterclass, especially in the second half.
But we had our chances. I was sat right behind Osman’s volley, and Geri nearly squeezed one in (don’t) – but Lukaku was generally either isolated, or apparently reluctant to pull the trigger and was either tackled or the ball slipped away. I wasn’t too worried as he was in the right places, had one or two good passes given to him, but his body language (and Deulofeu’s) hinted at tired minds and maybe tired bodies. We have reinforcements for Geri, not for Rom, so slightly concerning. But perhaps that’s for another day.
In the meantime, let’s be pleased with a draw at City who failed to score at home for the first time this season and it was against US! Who’d have thought it?! And let’s be pleased with a clean sheet.
And let’s be pleased and celebrate an excellent goalkeeping performance. Come on, you know you want to….