Money can of buy you a player with an impressive CV, one who has a deft first touch, who ping the ball onto a sixpence from forty yards and pull the ball out of the sky as if ball and boot were adorned with Velcro but unless that player has hunger, appetite, desire and is well managed it counts for diddly-squat.
Where it fell down was the inability to find enough quality in the final third to really hurt the massed ranks of blue and when half-chances arrived they were either snatched at or Town’s keeper was up to the task, and in a game of fine margins City’s cutting edge, on the day, went AWOL.
To get turned over by the old enemy would, for many, be a blow too far, especially with it likely killing off our lingering hopes of gate-crashing the top six. Wounds that had started to heal following the mini-revival could, or probably would, be re-opened in an instant. The mood would be ugly.
New dawns have generally been the product of flat-track bullying at Carrow Road – with admittedly the odd exception – and have ended up being the false variety, with City’s away-day woes the result of an embedded inability to stand up and be counted when it really matters.
Something has changed since that spell that’s still painful to even think about. Where once there was brittleness and half-heartedness, now there’s durability and fight. Belief too has been added to an armoury that was deficient in many things, and for all the technical difficulties that again revealed themselves in the centre of our back-four, there’s still heart.
As has been pointed out by many, it’s fun to sweep aside those for whom mid-table is home but where City have fallen short this season is when going toe-to-toe with those who currently reside in the top six. That needs to change, preferably starting on Tuesday evening.
That City conceded from two set pieces was no surprise and that the first came from a cross that was not properly dealt with was something that clearly irked Alex, but he continues to tread a very narrow path with his insistence on naming and shaming those who err.
That Dijks was able to come in at left-back after three days of training and equip himself so ably was a welcome bonus, and suggests those few days were well spent. He’ll do it differently to Olsson but hopefully with a similar level of success.
Even if the left sided like-for-like trades have been successful, still there are defensive frailties that have been left unaddressed. Still we are only an injury to Timm Klose away from turning again to a central defensive pairing, whichever pair Alex chooses, that has proven itself unfit for purpose.
Eight defeats on the road, with a sprinkling of horror shows among them, is precisely what has afforded Delia, Michael, Jez and co a rough ride. And until that part of the equation is solved Carrow Road will continue to carry the air of a brooding, petulant teenager who’s awaiting the chance to kick off.
For all the talk of hero worship amid a potentially acrid atmosphere, the Wolves manager was a peripheral figure in the afternoon’s proceedings, and the prospect of the bloodbath many had predicted was realistically quashed by Steven Naismith’s nicely executed 13th minute opener.
As an attacking force City were clearly limited – how they were set up to be – but they offered the odd threat, mainly through triggering counter-attacks via the pace of Josh Murphy but chances were virtually non-existent and Kyle Lafferty offered little by way of quality service.
The self-financing model this board perpetuates is not for the 21st century. Jez Moxey spoke with great pride of how this club likes to do things differently but for me the question should be why have we found ourselves on a path that is trodden by absolutely no-one?
If the same mentality as offered against Derby prevails then expect a convincing win, and some extended leeway for a manager who has already been afforded grace aplenty by his employers, but a repeat of the lethargy of Oakwell will only serve to reopen festering wounds.
Naismith was one of those I’d pencilled in for a January departure – and it may of course still happen – but the signs are he’s fully fit, is finding something like his ‘Everton’ form and is contributing in a positive way. Long may that continue, even if it means the cash-releasing departures will have to be found elsewhere.
It was solid, composed, no-messing when it needed to be, and the protection offered to Ruddy was in sharp contrast to the ‘hot knife through butter’ version that has so epitomised this dreadful run of form. And when was Ruddy was called upon he too delivered.
The half-hearted applause and haunted expressions of Delia, Michael and Jez Moxey at the end of the game suggested that they may too be of a similar belief yet are are curtailed in making any tough decisions by matters ‘more complex’; matters that, courtesy of Charlie Wyett’s piece, appear financial.
That David McNally and Alan Bowkett were not best buddies is well known but while it lasted, and before it imploded, that volatile dynamic drove this club forward. From the brink to the Premier league in three seasons. It wasn’t cozy, we weren’t particularly nice and there was collateral damage aplenty along the way but it was fit for purpose.
When out of possession, with Huddersfield’s manager David Wagner being a disciple of Jurgen Klopp, it came as no surprise that were exponents of the high press – worthy ones at that – but still City had no answer.
It wasn’t the beautiful game of course, it rarely is in the Championship, and I’m doubtful if the neutral watching TV audience was wholly enthralled but to those draped in yellow it offered up something very different to the fare we’ve become used to – even when comparing it to the Brentford romp.