Tis a thin old line between contentment and angst. A sentiment that applies to many aspects of life but one that rings especially true if you’re a Norwich supporter.
Saturday’s win lifted City to a lofty eighth place (courtesy of West Ham’s win over Newcastle it actually ended up being ninth) and sees us mingling with such Premier League giants as Swansea and Liverpool.
Bournemouth, on the other hand, started the weekend level on points with the Canaries but defeat saw them plunge southwards and they now find themselves among the Chelseas and the Newcastles – the strugglers.
And the feeling among the Yellow Army, as a result, is one of positivity – relatively speaking of course. Even the anger over transfer deadline day has subsided.
But it’s a fragile peace. Defeat by the Cherries would have not only have seen the Canaries plunge towards the Premier League’s nether regions but would have caused many a match to hover close to the blue touch paper.
Thankfully we were spared a repeat of the histrionics of deadline day by an excellent team performance, yet in this division you’re only ever 90 minutes away from a defeat and with it the ensuing fallout.
All of which is why it’s so important to squeeze every last drop of joy out of every win. Keep it in perspective of course but celebrate every Premier League success with the gusto it deserves.
That bit’s easy.
The tricky part is to draw on that same sense of perspective when things don’t go well – something we are not very good at. So poor in fact that in the aftermath of a City defeat, Twitter, the messageboards and Canary Call are all places to avoid while in the vicinity of sharp objects.
It becomes miserable – just as it would have been at the weekend in the unlikely event of Eddie Howe beating Alex Neil in the battle of the technical areas.
Russell Martin’s not unreasonable call for ‘equilibrium’, largely off the back of the unrest of Chris Hughton’s second season, has gone largely unheeded.
Alex Neil too has alluded to the same and has made no secret of his annoyance at some of the overreaction to the slightest of setbacks. In fact the steely gaze and furrowed brow has never been far away when talk of fans’ frustration has entered the conversation.
He’s clearly prepared himself for everything the Premier League is about to throw at him. Perhaps less so the famine or feast approach to all things football that’s the preserve of the Yellow Army.
We know it’s going to be tough, we know there will be dark days, we know there’ll be games when we’ll be on the receiving end in a painful way, but yet when they arrive we’re still thrust to the cusp of Armageddon.
Yet, if there is a positive to be gleamed it’s that we do actually appreciate that at some stage the worst is likely to occur – which is more than can be said of some of the followers of our fellow promotees.
One of my my lesser-known roles is that of OTBC match-day programme contributor, part of which involves a Q&A with a writer/blogger from the opposition of the day.
Last Saturday’s opponents are understandably cock-a-hoop at finding themselves in the Premier League, albeit courtesy of a very wealthy Russian, but I was more than a little surprised to learn, after questioning a Cherries’ counterpart at to whether Eddie Howe will stick to his footballing principles when the going gets tough, that they’re simply not expecting the brown stuff to go anywhere near the fan.
Quote: “I don’t think this team will find points hard to come by. There is great confidence and a strong mentality which is very evident when you talk to the players.”
The second part of the sentence is hard to disagree with – although Saturday’s lack lustre effort may have cast the odd doubt into the strong mentality – but to not prepare for a spell when you question where the next point is coming from strikes me as a brave stance. Even Chelsea are finding them hard to come by right now.
By contrast, Watford’s wait for their first win has probably served as an early reminder of the uphill battle that is the Premier League.
All of which leads us to Sunday’s date on Merseyside. One that, while not involving a certain Uruguayan, will be City’s first encounter of the season with PL royalty.
To say it’s been an unhappy hunting ground of late barely does justice to City’s last five visits to Anfield – which read 0-4, 0-3, 1-1, 0-5, 1-5 – and for all the problems that befell us at St Mary’s, the weekend presents Alex Neil with arguably his greatest challenge yet; certainly one that’s right up there with taking Hamilton to Celtic Park.
Yet we head there with confidence, and at a time when Brendan Rodgers’ once proud reputation is a defeat or two away from a very slippery slope. He’s spent big for two consecutive summers now to little effect and the title challenge of 2013/14 seems an age ago. The locals are restless.
Whether Neil’s Class of 2016 have the wherewithal to make hay will only become clear at around 6pm on Sunday but it would be great to think they can at least improve on four of the last five visits.
And to think that back in 2012 Rodgers and Paul Lambert were the bright young things with the managerial world at their feet.
Now it’s the turn of Alex, Eddie and Garry. So let’s try and enjoy it.