I gave up giving marks out of ten for individual player performances the moment I abandoned print press, delivery van and paper boy some six years ago.
On a local beat, nine times out of ten they were more trouble than they were worth. If anyone wishes for further evidence as to just how much it mattered to certain individual players, Darren Huckerby’s revelations about Jason Shackell’s fixation with his marks out of ten makes for a telling read.
Anyway, point is that were I still beholden to delivering marks out of ten on all concerned, I think it would be fair to say that no-one in a Canary shirt would have dipped beneath an eight for yesterday’s performance against Premier League champions Manchester United. Many would have walked off with a nine.
As a collective effort, it was a magnificent team performance from Paul Lambert’s men; there wasn’t a weak link to be seen.
All of which should bode well for the rest of the season; City should cross the finishing line at something of a canter – particularly given the fact that the Canary faithful can still expect to see further goodness in the shape of Norwich debuts for the two, transfer window new-boys Ryan Bennett and Jonny Howson.
Factor in James Vaughan coming slowly back on stream and all looks set very fair for a top half finish. Extraordinary, in the circumstances given that Norwich were some 60 places adrift of where they are now when Paul Lambert first walked through the door.
But there is a point about yesterday’s game that is, maybe, none of our business here in Norfolk.
And perhaps – rightly – we should just concentrate on how good Norwich were, as opposed to pondering the flip side of that coin.
Because I’m not sure Manchester United were that good.
The argument can, of course, be that United were only as good as Norwich allowed them to be; that in pressing the ball hard and high, the visitors had little time or space to settle into their usual rhythm.
But watching the highlights again last night – and mulling the respective performances over again in a pub at lunchtime – I might be slightly concerned as a United fan that of the three stand-out players, one was 18 months shy of his 40th birthday, one had only just been prised back out of retirement and the other was the keeper.
Yes, our Wayne was missing; and, sure, Rio Ferdinand putting in some big headers when it mattered, but in between him, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes the rest were all rather under-whelming. There wasn’t the threat, the menace and the panache that you expected.
Both Spurs and Arsenal purred when they arrived at Carrow Road; there was far less to admire in that United performance – other than the fact that deep within the Reds’ DNA is an inability to lose games, however off-colour their game may be.
The other talking point post-match was Stuart Pearce’s decision to over-look the likes of both Canary skipper Grant Holt and keeper John Ruddy when he named his first England squad as caretaker boss for this week’s Wembley clash with Holland.
The fact that neither Darren Bent nor Wayne Rooney teamed up with their international pals today appeared to make no difference to the hopes of either Holt or Danny Graham that their achievements thus far this season might gain some reward.
Instead, Pearce will put his faith in a strike department based around Fraizer Campbell, Daniel Sturridge and Danny Welbeck – all of whom, one presumes, Pearce will have seen through their formative footballing years as England Under-21 boss.
Better the young devils he knows is a persuasive argument. It’s the style one that niggles at the back of my mind.
For is there that much to choose between all three? Are they not dangerously alike, with only the absent Rooney bringing something different to the pack?
Welbeck, in particular, looked less than sharp this weekend; the late header was a total sitter. And with six Premier League goals to his name this term, he is four short of both Graham and Holt.
Perhaps all in Norfolk are too conscious of the footballing fairy-tale that is Holt’s career; we are all too determined to see the happiest of endings – that the 30-year-old does, indeed, go all the way from the Unibond League to Wembley and Three Lions on a Wednesday night.
That Norfolk’s ‘Boys Own’ hero completes his journey from bottom rung of the ladder to the top.
But you put Holt on the end of a Giggs delivery – such as the one that barely connected with Welbeck’s forehead in those last, thrilling minutes – and wonder aloud what the City favourite might deliver goals-wise.
He would have thumped that chance way beyond Ruddy’s reach had the shirt on his back been red, not yellow.
Likewise, ask Jonny Evans who he would rather face on a Saturday afternoon – a Welbeck or a Holt. And I suspect we all know the answer.
An answer that – for now – appears to be beyond Mr Pearce.