Still feeling it a little bit after the game on Sunday. How about you?

Even the catharsis of doing the pod last night hasn’t helped to get me over the defeat to Brighton. I said on the pod that my football hangover cure was to avoid social media for a bit and that I did, but being an obsessive as I am, it is almost impossible for me not to find my way on to Twitter. So I’ve done that a few times already and seeing clipped up bits of Gary Nevill playing the ‘I told you so’ card hasn’t exactly helped my mood.

I think what is also compounding the feelings of being down is that the thought of the next game isn’t really helping. All season we’ve been able to park any disappointments quite quickly, but there’s been an opportunity to look at the next game with a sense of optimism. Sadly, knowing that whatever we do on Saturday will mean nothing when City win their 12th game in a row to a hapless Chelsea team, means that I’m not even looking at this coming weekend game against Forest as a chance of redemption. The inevitability of the death of the title dream is still hanging over us and that is a real gut-puncher.

Last night we briefly got to talking about ‘what next?’ with regards to the next few games. FK was a guest on the pod and he said that personally he’d send a few players on their holidays, like Saka, etc. I have to say I’m kind of with him on this one. City will win one of their remaining three games. It will almost inevitably be against Chelsea and in somewhat of a frustrating twist of fate the first time in weeks and weeks in which we play first – on Saturday evening – is a time in which little will be of relevance come Sunday evening. I certainly won’t be watching any football on the Sunday. I’ll be finding something – anything – to do rather than see that pathetic Chelsea team get rolled over.

Arteta won’t give up. It is kind of part of the job description as a professional in football that you have to keep fighting. As fans we are afforded the ability to give up all hope so that when the inevitable happens, it doesn’t hit us as hard. I’ve heard a few comments lately of ‘pre grieving’ and that is what it has felt like for me since the Southampton draw, which if we’re honest, felt as bad as a defeat given how useless the Saints are. But Arteta won’t use these last two games as experiments. He will go strong on Saturday, evening if I kind of hope that he tries something different.

The reason I think this is because we as fans need to look forward to next season now. All that is left is to give the players a clap of appreciation on Sunday week after next and we show them that we appreciate that they have come so far and they have – for such large parts – given us so much hope. There will be plenty of time for reflection, for seeing how we didn’t get it over the line, but when the dust settles I’m sure we’ll all be much happier about where we are as a football club than we’ve been for decades.

But I do hope he tries some different things. He’s mentioned recently about how he’s thought of different tactical approaches that could be adopted. Maybe the Forest game can’t be a game in which he experiments because it is still not mathematically impossible, but the Wolves game should 100% be a game in which he starts the testing process. Sure, there will be time for experimentation during pre season, but why not use what will effectively be a glorified friendly, to start the process of trying something different?

Could we give ESR some minutes and see if he can recapture some of the form of last season? Could we try Gabriel Jesus out wide, with Trossard through the middle, in a look at next season where we could use Gabriel Jesus as a wide forward if, say, Saka goes down injured? How about trying Kiwior at left back? Is that a thing?

I’m obviously talking about personnel changes, but he could look at tactical tweaks too. We saw how we went long against Brighton and it just didn’t work. What else could he try? Maybe a double pivot of Partey and Jorginho? If the rumours of Xhaka to Leverkusen have a little more fire to the initial smoke, maybe we try playing Trossard in the advanced eight position, because we’re looking at life without Xhaka?

There are lots of bits of experimentation that could be done and whilst we must look at this season as one in which we were brilliant but ultimately came up short, the fact that we had a similar feeling last season could be a positive as we go in to the summer. Could this team take another step forward both from a personnel and a tactical perspective this pre season? There is always hope.

Besides, we usually win Premier League titles in year’s that end in even numbers anyway (1998, 2002, 2004), so maybe we just have to be patient for next year anyway….

…Yes, I know that’s a tenuous hope to have, but I’m sticking with it anyway.

Catch you all tomorrow guys.