After the successes of August and September, October was a rather frustrating slow down in our long march to success. Three consecutive league draws, of decreasing quality meant that we blew a real chance to scramble ahead of the faltering big four. There's no shame in drawing at Villa Park, and drawing with ten men at Wigan left a mixed taste. But to blow a two goal lead at home against Fulham is the sign of a side that is not serious about sucess. Hitting five past Scunthorpe in the Carling Cup provided a cheap thrill but little more.
Aston Villa (a) 1-1 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Wigan Athletic (a) 1-1 (thoughts, ratings, reax)
Fulham (h) 2-2 (thoughts, reax)
Scunthorpe United (h) 5-1 (thoughts, reax)
Player of the Month
This is tough. In August I had a choice between the experience of Gareth Barry, Shay Given and Emmanuel Adebayor. In September it came down to the two warriors, Nigel de Jong and Craig Bellamy. But October? The most newsworthy player was probably Martin Petrov, who shined with goals against Wigan or Fulham. Carlos Tévez started to produce performances of consistency and effort, even if the quality one would expect from a £47m striker is not quite there yet. Norfstander went for Wayne Bridge - a fair reward for a much improved but still maligned player. I suppose one could go for Gareth Barry who never quite hit the heights of August but still did well. What else though? An ironic vote for Joleon Lescott? I'm not exactly overburdened with good options.
And so I'm not going to make too big a deal of this, or pretend that the award recipient has transformed our play or changed my life as a City fan or should even be nominated for the Ballon d'Or. But I think that our best performer in October, all things considered, was Nigel de Jong. He did well before he came off at Villa Park, and was crucial to the second half rearguard at the DW Stadium. He played against Fulham and Scunthorpe, too, which, to be honest, pushed him ahead of those who only played two (Martin Petrov) or three (Wayne Bridge) games in October. But nevertheless de Jong has grown into this season, and now looks like one of the best practitioners of the destructive game in the Premier League. He certainly is justifying Hughes' decision to pay well over the odds for him in January. His wearing the armband at St. Andrew's was a good reward for his strong recent displays.
Performance of the Month
Craig Bellamy turned the game in our favour at Villa Park, scoring our equaliser and leading our charge against the home team.
Goal of the Month
It may have taken a deflection but Michael Johnson's long range strike against Scunthorpe was a moment of release comparable with Valeri Bozhinov's volley at White Hart Lane in April.