It’s not every day that you even watch Match of the Day 2.
And it is certainly not every day when you find yourself nicking a decent line off one of the pundits. And it wasn’t one from ex-City star Danny Mills.
It was Mark Lawrenson’s remark – one that, in fairness, he attributed to Hull boss Steve Bruce – that caught my eye. Or ear last night.
That in the Premier League ‘you’re only ever as good as your strikers…’
Which was a great line given certain debates of late; that Norwich are one Loic Remy off from being a top dozen side in the Premier League; free of the gnawing doubt that comes with being in the bottom eight for vast swathes of any season.
It was a particularly pertinent point to make – not just in relation to Gary Hooper’s fourth goal in six games that kept the Canaries better-perched in 14th, but also in relation to teams flying high at the top of the table.
Because as both Arsenal and Spurs discovered this weekend, Sergio Agüero and Luis Suárez can take teams – and managers – of that ilk to the cleaners. Shipping five or six at Anfield or The Etihad might come to be seen as not a bad result. Such is the gulf in class that certain of the world’s greatest strikers bring to the English Premier League.
But it is down amongst the merely mortals where the Lawrenson-Bruce remark echoes equally true.
For Hooper’s recent burst of form – in every likelihood merely a simple case of feet and range being found after a summer ruined by injury – has been fundamental to Norwich’s rise from the drop zone to the relatively calmer waters of mid-table.
Certainly there will be a clutch of bottom six managers casting envious eyes on the 25-year-old, whose arrival in Norfolk had demanded much patience and much prising by the powers-that-be.
When teams are so much of a muchness, finding a frontman in that kind of ‘form’ – and it is but nothing compared to those at the top of the class – can make all the difference.
The difference between keeping your job and losing it as Martin Jol and Steve Clarke have discovered of late. West Ham are another club for whom striker issues figure large; as they do at Villa Park.
Paul Lambert would have hoped for rather more from Christian Benteke this season; the 23-year-old may just be biding his time and fitness ahead of a January move, but he has now gone ten games without a goal – his last came in the middle of September. His confidence wanes and Villa find themselves becalmed. Or at least until the next time they play Norwich.
So if Hooper and his sudden glut of goals are now gold dust, then it follows that Norwich should build their team shape around him. Do what’s best for Super Hoops.
Which – as the goal proved – may demand having a big man to play-off. Someone to do the dirty, physical work for him.
Which may yet give Johan Elmander a longer run in the side than his goals-to-games ratio might necessarily demand.
I might be wrong. But I’m not sure Hooper is overly blessed with pace; he’s not going to knock it beyond the last defender and run on. He wants someone else to knock it down for him.
And I’m not convinced that as and when his toe allows, that player is going to be Ricky van Wolfswinkel either.
Not sure playing the ‘target man’ is the young Dutchman’s game; it is Elmander’s.
Extending this argument on into next month’s transfer window and it could yet do much to shape Chris Hughton’s transfer thinking – if his first priority is not to shore up the centre of his defence where soft, soft goals have become all-too plentiful.
Because maybe the need is for a better class of target man – a poor man’s Álvaro Negredo, who can deliver a better class of knock down for Hooper to feed on. And chip in with the odd goal himself.
The irony, of course, is that a Hooper-Holt front pairing would have been something of a dream double act had the former arrived in time for that first full season in the Premier League when the three-time City Player of the Year was in his pomp.
But it very interesting what difference an in-form striker makes; how fine the line is for the rump of the Premier League when it comes to finding one player that gets you an extra point here or there.
As good as Michel Vorm’s second-half save was to deny Hooper a second and – in all likelihood – to have given Norwich all three points against Swansea on Saturday, the difference between a top dozen striker and a top three one was there to see. Vorm wouldn’t have got a hand to the ball had that chance fallen to an Agüero or a Suárez.
Perhaps that’s being overly churlish; right now better to celebrate the simple mercy of having someone who can prise even that one point out of a contest that wasn’t one you would want to lose.
Not if you wanted to keep your job.
Right now, Hughton must say a little prayer of thanks every night for the delivery of Mr Hooper into his midst.
Finally, he has a goal or two up his sleeve.