That one should have settled us all down a little.
But then there was that sight of Ben Godfrey signalling to the City bench that has race was run, followed by him gingerly walking around the Dean Court pitch towards his latest treatment table.
When will this end? Or, more pertinently, how will it end?
With Timm Klose, Christoph Zimmermann and Grant Hanley all months rather than weeks away from a return to full fitness, this is entering the realms of farce. The footballing gods may have looked favourably on us for swathes of last season but this is payback time.
And the little buggers haven’t just gone at it with a scattergun. They’ve been forensic. They’ve honed in on our weak spot and gone in for the kill. Picking them off one by one.
And then there were none. Centre-backs that is (failing Godfrey making it miracle number two in the space of seven days). The gods seem to have relented on the defensive midfielders… for now.
Let’s just hope Akin Famewo is a good sleeper.
All of which makes yesterday’s point in Bournemouth that little bit more impressive, with Godfrey’s afternoon lasting 50 minutes before Alex Tettey was forced to deputise – making it a non-centre-back centre-back pairing with Ibrahim Amadou.
It meant another still-not-match-fit returnee, Tom Trybull was forced to enter the fray ahead of schedule.
But they dug in, played some good stuff at times, and were rewarded with one of those hard-earned, sometimes ugly, points that can be the difference between 17th and 18th.
We may not have found favour with Lineker and Shearer – for once we couldn’t argue – but who cares. Our first away point of the season and our first clean sheet were, in the circumstances, so vital and will hopefully instil some belief.
It was also a reward for the work done at Colney around defensive shapes over the last fortnight and belied my fear that we would gift the previously goal-less Dominic Solanke his ‘along come Norwich’ moment.
When that moment almost came, courtesy of Amadou’s one positional error of the afternoon, the returning Tim Krul gave us his best ‘Peter Schmeichel’ to block Bournemouth’s only clear cut chance of the game.
It was so good to have him back.
No blame whatsoever was apportioned to Michael McGovern for the Villa nightmare, and the fine double-save from the penalty was unfortunately lost amidst the five goals that flew into the City net, but Krul offers more to this group than goalkeeping alone.
Aside from a calming presence, the Dutchman offers a guiding hand to those in front of him and there’s no doubting the influence he’s had on the development on Godfrey, Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons. All three were excellent yesterday – while on the pitch in Godfrey’s case – and will have benefited from those booming Dutch tones ringing in their ears.
It would be wrong however to paint this as a backs-to-the-wall defensive slog because City had their moments too and after the break, in particular, looked as though they had a goal in them.
Teemu Pukki’s low drive from the edge of the box looked destined for the bottom corner until Aaron Ramsdale right hand had other ideas, and Tom Trybull’s drive from distance briefly nestled in the top corner until I removed the yellow and green tints and realised it had actually nestled in row J.
But the point is we looked a capable attacking force as well as infinitely more solid defensively than we have done at any stage this season. The changes and tweaks are probably minor and not obvious without studying the videos in a Danny Murphy style, but it was an altogether more solid and professional away performance than those we’ve witnessed recently.
Eddie Howe had the hump of course and attributed the Cherries’ dropped points to them having lost their “mojo” in the final third but I’d like to think Amadou’s towering presence had something to do with it too. Maybe he’ll turn his pockets out this morning, find said Bournemouth mojo and return it to Eddie.
In fairness to Howe, he did also describe City as a “tough nut to crack”, which is not something we’ve heard from too many opposition managers this season so far. A turning point maybe?
Among the returning absentees, the arrival of Onel Hernandez is probably the one that offers something different, certainly in the attacking sense. For him to have re-entered the fray three weeks ahead of schedule is a huge bonus and there’s something comforting about watching him scamper down that left-wing with defenders struggling in his wake.
He probably needs to be handled gently for a couple of weeks, but I look forward to the day he’s fully fit and unleashed. He brings unpredictability and excitement – and we’ve missed him.
So, only my third Match of the Day experience of the season for obvious reasons, but I couldn’t two 5hits that it was the briefest of highlights and was on so ‘last’ it was almost Sunday. Gritty performances like that are just what we have been missing.
Now, if any of you out there can play centre-back and are free next Saturday teatime…