Winning the Championship title by a canter is no easy feat. Particularly in your first full season of management; particularly when your new employers ask you to start work on nigh-on the bottom rung of the ladder.
Which is why you have to give Roy Keane every credit for the feats he achieved at Sunderland last season. This Saturday's 1-0 win over Spurs wasn't the worst start in the world, either.
And just as much as he appeared to morph into this ultra-dedicated, zeroed-in footballer in his latter years at United, so you sense that much of that same professional zealotry has been applied to his actions as a manager.
The game comes first; your life as a professional footballer comes first; there is, almost, a monastic fervour to both his managerial and individual make-up.
Peter Grant is out of a similar mould. The City boss doesn't quite do the same haunted, piercing look that Keane has made his own, but there is the same, elemental passion about the game.
Which is why after a week in which Ryan Shawcross decided that his best interests were served by staying in the North-West – sticking close to his Hollyoaks-style existence and signing for Stoke City for at least half the season – Keane's comments on the growing influence of the WAGs in a player's decision-making process immediately struck a chord.
Stuck out on a limb geographically – with only Newcastle's MetroCentre for company – the Black Cats have clearly encountered exactly the same kind of location issues that have plagued Norwich player-wise. Or players' girlfriends-wise…
Never one to spare anyone's blushes, Keane's brutal honesty in terms of a modern player's lifestyle was absolutely spot on. Open a HarveyNicks in either Sunderland or Norwich and both clubs might have a chance.
“If a player doesn't want to come to Sunderland then all well and good,” Keane was quoted today as saying in The Guardian.
“But if he decides he doesn't want to come because his wife wants to go shopping in London, then it's a sad state of affairs. It's not a football move, it's a lifestyle move. It tells me the player is weak and his wife runs his life.
“The idea of women running the show concerns me and worries me, but the players we're talking about are soft. Priorities have changed in footballers and they are being dictated to by their wives.”
He even cited one example – of a player unmoved by the chance to play in front of 40,000-plus impassioned Wearsiders, opting instead for half the crowd, half the passion, but twice the shopping in the West End.
“If players are starting to go to clubs just because they're in London and they're not even that big a club, it's clearly down to the shops,” he said.
“We had a player who didn't even ring us back [about a contract offer] this summer because his wife wanted to move to London – and, yes, shopping was mentioned. To me it's wrong to sign for a club with half the crowds and less attention [than Sunderland].”
Now this may well be wholly unfair on Master Shawcross. And let's say that it is; let's insist that he is the exception to the rule. Let's just work on the basis of both Sunderland and Norwich chasing someone of Shawcross' ilk; let's deal in stereo-types.
Because the simple fact of the matter is that if you are a 19-year-old Manchester United youngster born, bred and presumeably living in leafy Cheshire, you can pretty much bet your bottom dollar that you will be part of a very glitzy 'set'.
That your life will be straight out of the pages of 'Hello!'; that you will knock about with the cast of Hollyoaks; that your latest Mrs may very well have featured on the cover of FHM; that you do get tickets to a party at Rio's new place; that you get to Wayne's house-warming.
That's what Keane is railing against; what he sees as the corroding of this samurai-like code of conduct that underpins a true professional's calling; Keane lives to a warrior creed; Grant shares much of it – until one becomes the manager of Manchester United, the other the boss of Celtic, both are going to be fighting against this generational and geographical tide.
Which is why, for example, bringing both Jamie Cureton and Darel Russell back to the fold this summer is a cute, cute move – having been here before, they both get 'it'. For Russell, it is also within striking distance of London – he knows how little time it can take on a good run down the M11.
The problem comes – as Keane is now discovering – when you look to go the next step up recruitment-wise. To get a Shawcross in on loan. Or, for example, to persuade Mr and, presumeably, Mrs Nugent that Wearside is the place for them.
Michael Chopra was the Cureton option; bring the local boy home.
Quite where this all ends is anyone's guess.
It is, you strongly sense, in neither man's DNA to make up for any perceived shopping shortfall by making the player's weekly wage packet bulge that little bit further; nor are the two respective cities about to offer the kind of 'Hello!' exposure that all-too many a player's wife or girlfriend might now both crave and demand.
Jimmy Smith might be the straw we all have to cling to. If you can still find a 20-year-old Londoner who 'gets' what sort of opportunity Norwich are offering him; of what benefit a four-month tour of duty in Norfolk could be to his footballing education, then there might – just – be hope.
In fairness, in his short spell here he didn't come across at all David Bentley.
Otherwise, the answer has to lie closer to home – at the feet of, say, a Chrissy Martin.
That rather than looking to the boutiques and bars of Cheshire for a young man of genuine Premiership class, you trust that in the market places of Beccles and Fakenham lies part of your answer.
Whether or not, even then, the Martins of this world will display the same kind of footballer-warrior creed evident in both Messrs Keane and Grant is another matter.
Between them, the Hello-style fame that accompanies a young footballer's fortune have the ability to corrupt the very best of hearts – and break those with a simple and straight-forward love of the game.