There Are More Questions Than Answers sung Johnny Nash, who had a couple of 1970s sugary pseudo-reggae hits, long before Robert Nesta Marley came along and gave a grateful UK a taste of the genuine stuff that so many of us came to love.
And that was my first thought as I strolled out of Carrow Road on Saturday. We had just smashed a pretty poor Brentford side 5-0 and that warm fuzzy feeling on the long walk home had been absent for so long I could hardly recognise it.
The first question is a little predictable: Is this a turning point with the fabled green shoots of recovery sprouting in December?
I genuinely don’t know. One of the most-used clichés in football is: “you can only beat what’s put in front of you”. How good were we, and how bad were Brentford? Well, Brentford were genuinely poor. They put on a little bit of pressure either side of half time, but that was it and for once we looked relatively in control. When the third went in, it was another question: how many more? Answer: two.
So, how good were we? Jonny Howson and Ivo Pinto returning made a huge difference; the former calm, cool and collected and the latter offering the width on the right we have been sorely missing of late. Alex Pritchard was superb – the pass that put Robbie Brady in for the third was verging on the sublime and oh boy, did he deserve his goal. Sure the defence had a few shakies, but was it a dress rehearsal for the immediate future?
By that I mean playing Ryan Bennett and Seb Bassong in tandem. Cynics might say (and some on social media already have) that is to get them bedded in as a partnership before Timm Klose departs in January. I cannot fathom why else Alex Neil would select Bassong over Klose, although, for what it’s worth, I thought Seb had one of his best games in ages.
And where was Martin Olsson? Conspiracy theorists would have a field day with the thought that both our widely-acknowledged best defenders were absent because they are being kept in cotton wool for the January sales. Again, I have no answer.
A crucial question: Has Alex Neil lost the dressing room? Seeing the goal celebrations, I don’t think so. Sure Jacob Murphy didn’t go OTT after his goal/own goal, probably because he knew the Brentford man had got the final touch but every other goal was celebrated full-on. So the players do care. Or at least the starting XI on Saturday yesterday appear to.
Was the selection of that starting XI inspired or enforced? I suspect enforced, but it certainly worked. Against Brentford, anyway. I’d hardly object to the same selection again.
And was it good to have the crowd back onside? After Brady’s wonderful goal, the Barclay came to life and there were a few choruses reminiscent of the Lambert days. I can answer that one – yes, it was better than good.
So, despite not largely being able to answer my own questions, it should not be long until I will be in a better position to do so. Barnsley, Huddersfield and Villa will provide the answers. This trio of fixtures will point towards our season’s-end destiny.
These three clubs are genuine promotion contenders and each one of them will give us a tougher test than the Bees. If Neil has indeed managed to restore the collective mojo and we can get, say, seven points from these three games I believe he will justifiably retain his position and I will be a happy little bunny. Until the ‘window’ opens.
It seems to be an open secret that it’s “sell to buy” for City in January and given our recent track record I don’t hold out too much hope for much of any use to happen in terms of ins-and-outs. But if Saturday is anything to go by, things are looking a little more towards the skies than the floor.
Just like the only time I have ever been to Barnsley, which I remember for two heightist reasons. Firstly, the wonderful Paul McVeigh scored our second goal – and with a header!
That was our Worthy promotion season and in fairness to what is to follow, the Yorkshire side were redeveloping Oakwell at the time. At half time I asked one of the Barnsley supporters where the Gents was. He pointed in the general direction and said “mind your head, it’s a low ceiling”. Yeah, sure. A five-foot brick wall, half drainpipes in the crucial area and a cloudless sky above. Yorkshire humour at its best.
And let’s hope we have three points to be laughing about after Saturday’s match.
Otherwise Alex Neil might yet be getting the Barnsley Chop.