One only has to flick between Channel 5 and BBC1 on a Saturday night for a brutal reminder of the gulf between in quality between the two top divisions. And I’m not just talking about TV production and presentation.
One is silky smooth (unless Sunderland are playing), the other is crash, bang, wallop.
Right now we’re all loving ‘crash, bang, wallop’ of course – and so we should – but that City are now two points clear at the top of the division without getting even close to playing at full throttle is telling, and riddled with irony.
For City to snaffle even a single point from any given game in the Premier League, the team and its constituent parts need to operate at 100 per cent and enjoy a decent dollop of good fortune along the way.
The elite of the elite can cruise along at 60-70 per cent and pick up points for fun; those less fortunate most certainly cannot. And, let’s face it, when it comes to the have-nots we’re King.
But here we are, with two points worth of clear water between us and the rest, having offered up a performance that by Alex Neil’s admission was below par; the Brewers of Burton proving every bit as obdurate, resilient and buoyant as we had been promised.
Yet for the third consecutive home game City found a way to get the job done.
We’ve been reminding each other of the potential for ugliness over the next seven months, and so it comes to pass (especially when playing at home).
Yet amidst said grind there were fleeting moments of beauty and there was always enough there, even in moments of tedium and central defensive slapstick, to suggest that City had enough in reserve to make it five wins on the spin.
That Jacob Murphy added to his ever burgeoning goal tally came as no surprise whatsoever, but for him to be joined on the list of goalscorers by Messrs Olsson and Pinto merely added another layer to an already slightly surreal afternoon.
Equally, there is no taking away from the fact that right now goalscorers are popping up all over the show and with Cameron Jerome in dire need of a break (or two) in front goal it’s a trait that’s both healthy and, right now, vital.
Less than healthy however is the back-four’s point-blank refusal to deliver their manager a clean sheet and between now and 7:45pm on Wednesday evening there is much work to be done on the fields of Colney if Dwight Gayle and co are to be kept at arm’s length.
A repeat of yesterday’s Keystone Kops defending simply won’t suffice.
Timm Klose, him of Norfolk Tourist Board fame, looked for all the world like someone ambling through the sands of Mundsley Beach during what was a nervy and uncharacteristically hesitant afternoon for the Swiss international but such has been his impact he has several credits in the bank. He just so happened to use one of them up yesterday.
Russell Martin, for his part, rose to the challenge and on this occasion was there to offer support to a colleague in need; mopping up pending danger caused by the recklessness of others on several occasions.
And, as one who had questioned the manager’s decision to jettison Ryan Bennett in favour of the skip, I should confess to having some humble pie thawing on the worktop. It’s probably time for me to accept that as a Championship centre-back Russ can cut it.
But our Timm wasn’t alone. Others struggled too.
Robbie Brady – the saved penalty aside – looked a shadow of the energetic hussler-bussler who ripped it up in France ’16 and currently has the air of one whose summer break wasn’t quite long enough to fully recharge the batteries. But he’ll come to the party at some point – and we’ll be an even better side for it.
As a collective City were just missing that little bit of pizzazz and energy normally associated with a team that’s about to top the league, the latter of which will almost certainly be needed if they are to emerged unscathed from the next two away games.
Molineux will just be Molineux – as unpleasant and seething as ever – but it’s Wednesday’s trip to Tyneside that will hopefully confirm that the scars of last season have finally disappeared.
18 October 2015 was a watershed afternoon for both manager and club with a 6-2 mauling, played out live on national TV, being the pivotal moment in City’s gradual and painful decline into the Premier League’s nether regions.
It was then that, for literally the first time in his Norwich tenure, Alex Neil questioned his own judgement; the decision to withdraw Alex Tettey in order to ‘go for it’ being one that has been analysed to a standstill.
The rest unfortunately is history – but Wednesday night offers the manager and those players present a chance for redemption; one they will be desperate to take.
We’re top and only firing on three cylinders but if that fourth were to kick in prior to locking horns with Rafa and co that would be good.
#Never mind the danger…#