In front of the cameras, Alex Neil remained unflustered. Behind the scenes he must be tearing his hair out – well, you know what I mean.
Although the initial exchange with Match of the Day’s Jonathan Pearce was a little frosty and awkward – Pearce assuming that Neil would have automatically disagreed with the penalty decision when he hadn’t seen it back – as always, Alex dissected his team’s shortcomings against Leicester with the nerve of a sharp-eyed surgeon.
Despite meticulous pre-match planning and debriefing of the troops, too many of his boys just didn’t find their B-game, let alone the A one, which had been on show at West Ham.
After heralding Jonny Howson last week, I’m left with egg on my face after a poor 5/10 from him on Saturday – no sickly pigeons to deflect from a curiously ponderous and inaccurate individual performance.
In truth, no-one on our side merited even a 7/10. For an hour, it was Southampton all over again minus the sending off. In front of a packed Carrow Road, that really is pretty indefensible – just like their second goal.
Is it something about an upcoming international that makes Russell Martin, Steven Whittaker, Robbie Brady, Wes Hoolahan and Alex Tettey switch off in the preceding league match?
Although a late Mbokani/Redmond-inspired charge almost salvaged a point, and the award of the penalty can be debated until the cows come home (not by Lineker and pals though ironically), the Tinkerman and his pacey Foxes deserved their win.
It reminded me of that no-show against Middlesbrough last season at home when Karanka outwitted Neil’s plans and Boro outplayed and outfought us in the first half.
I’m already looking forward to the rematch in the Midlands though. The King Power is a rowdy and passionate arena these days but so far no-one has got the better of Alex Neil twice.
Fair play to Leicester though – they are on a roll. Some of their fans seem to be getting ahead of themselves in predicting a top six finish. In the patronising words of our pig-friendly PM, “calm down dear, calm down.”
They got battered by Arsenal and have yet to face most of the better teams in the division, including Palace and Southampton who inflicted our other defeats in a still very infant season. In fact, those are their next fixtures – perhaps a reality check in store for the currently chirpy Claudio.
It’s been a contrasting season start for the three newly promoted sides.
While we’ve found the back of the net consistently with eight players getting on the score-sheet, Watford have struggled up front with half of our number of goals and total reliance on one striker.
Injury or loss of form for Ighalo could threaten the Hornets season as the long-term loss of Wilson looks like it might for Bournemouth, who otherwise have more than held their own with the exception of their trip to Norfolk.
They are now reliant largely on one-time Canary target Glenn Murray for their goals and it could be a sticky period ahead for the Cherries as a golden summer turns to grey winter.
Watford’s defence take the early season ‘meanest’ award but despite leading the trio of new boys in the table, with just one goal for their fans to cheer from four home games, the mid-year love-in for Senor Flores could crumble quickly.
Our defence takes the ‘leakiest’ award despite recent fine results away from home and susceptibility to a fast break or a whipped in corner or free-kick will be top of Alex Neil’s ‘to do’ list once everyone is back on the increasingly chilly fields at Colney.
With the managerial axe now being wielded, the post-international run up to Christmas is likely to see further victims as expectations fall flat and fans get ever testy.
Eddie Howe and Neil are as safe as houses you would think for this season; Flores, I’m not so sure of – particularly with the Pozzos’ recent twitchy trigger finger. It won’t take too many more blanks at home for Europe’s managerial market to once more become the focus at Vicarage Road.
With two weeks of Premier League paralysis, there is much to ponder for manager and fan alike around the country. The early skirmishes of August and September will quickly fade from memory.
Overall, my team get a grade B to date – some very promising signs but clearly room for improvement, tighter at the back, more clinical up top and greater consistency from game to game.
With dark mornings and short days around the corner, who’s going to be up for the fight on a soggy Saturday afternoon or under the floodlights on a wet Wednesday night?
It’s men from boys and wheat from chaff time.