How are we all feeling after that?
Relieved? Excited? A smidgen disappointed? A little bit of all three?
Relieved because it could have been an awful lot worse given the dominance the visitors enjoyed for large swathes of the game (67% possession if you’re content to believe the boffins of Match of the Day).
Excited because of what yesterday afternoon promised. While there is clearly still work to be done, Chris Hughton’s team showed enough to suggest good things ahead.
And disappointed because despite being second best in terms of possession, City managed to weather the proverbial and get their noses ahead. But for a wonder-strike from the Ross Barkley who knows what could have prevailed if the lead had been consolidated for a while longer.
But – as 24,000 announced in unison upon the final blast of Michael Oliver’s whistle – “we’ll take that”.
A point against a quality side with the top six in their sights is far from a disaster, even if a couple of ‘Canary Callers’ tried to convince us otherwise; likewise the bloke in the River End at half-time who announced to those willing to listen: “Even more defensive than last season… Redmond is virtually playing at left-back!”
In the real world, to emerge unscathed after 94 tension-filled minutes was fair reward for Hughton’s men, who showed a renewed zip and tempo to their game – something that was often missing last term.
With MoTD kindly confirming what we already knew – that the Toffees dominated possession – City found themselves playing like the away side at times, which, given the pace now at Hughton’s disposal, was no bad thing.
With a stronger, fitter and meaner version of last season’s Elliott Bennett dovetailing nicely with the newly acquired speed merchants, City looked menacing on the break throughout; in fairness, even more so in the final twenty minutes when Jonny Howson took the ‘Hoolahan’ role – Wes not enjoying one of his best days in the yellow shirt.
Nathan Redmond is certainly going to be one to watch this season if yesterday’s taster was anything to go by. With a deadly combination of twinkling toes and lightening pace – the armoury of the old-fashioned winger – Redmond looks to have precisely what it takes to make it at the top-level, even if the defensive side of his game currently require a little more honing.
So too his knack of knowing when to dribble and when to release but, still only 19 years old, there will be plenty of time and space on the fields of Colney to gradually knock the rough edges of our ten carat diamond.
EDP columnist Robin Sainty called it right on Canary Call when describing Redmond’s ability to get City fans on the edge of their seats as ‘Huckerby like’, while acknowledging him as being far from the finished article that Hucks was when he arrived here.
Come to think of it, the Great One wasn’t – by his own admission – the world’s best defender. I wonder if Redmond can header?
But I digress. The other obvious bright spot was a Premier League debut goal for Ricky van Wolfswinkel (OK if I call him RvW?).
As pointed out by Mr Waghorn, there is a certain irony that his opening goal could have been one right out of the Holt top drawer; his instinctive header from Steven Whittaker’s horribly miscued volley one that the Big Man would have been proud of.
As RvW pointed out in interview with BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham afterwards, to be a predatory striker means making the most out of the few chances that come your way. With a conversion rate of 50% – the other chance being the first half header from Javier Garrido’s excellent cross – City statisticians must already be purring at what may lie ahead.
He also looks like he can mix it if required. To quote part of a tweet from an Everton supporting colleague: “Ricky looked like he didn’t mind putting himself about!”
And he’s spot on.
For those of us who have seen the pre-season friendlies it now becomes clear that said Dutchman was saving his best for when it really counted, with his physical display offering an edge hitherto unseen.
Another plus… a big one.
While he’ll never usurp Holty when it comes to roughing-up central defenders, the ability to ‘let them know you’re there’ when playing as a lone striker is vital, and he succeeded with aplomb.
Finally, it would be remiss not to mention Whittaker’s contribution. In addition to the goal (when did we last see a full-back score by virtue of a run started deep in his own half?), and his dubious ‘assist’ for the second, he coped admirably with the not inconsiderable dual threat of Leighon Baines and Steven Pienaar.
Clearly the midweek tryst with Theo Walcott did rather more damage to the groin of Robert Snodgrass than it did to Whittaker’s confidence and defensive capabilities; all in all a fine afternoon’s work by Scotland’s finest (for yesterday at least).
So there we go. After what seemed like an eternity, we’re finally up and running and – for most of us at least –I’d say optimism levels at 4:55 matched those of 2:59.
And how many times have we been able to say that on opening day?
“Never mind the danger”