A cynic could argue that City got lucky yesterday; that on another day, faced by opponents with a ruthless not toothless edge in front of goal, they could have come unstuck.
And I’d have to agree. Perhaps that makes me one.
But they didn’t come unstuck. They dug in, rode their moments of luck, carried a constant threat going forward and ran out deserved winners. ‘Standard Championship fare’ was the conclusion reached by me and a couple of pals on the walk back to the car.
I won’t however be going down the ‘turned a corner’ route because in truth there was never really a corner to turn with regard to the home form. Ten wins in fourteen home league games is not what landed Alex Neil and the board in this fine mess (although that’s a description I’m sure they’d refute).
Eight defeats on the road on the other hand, with a sprinkling of bona fide horror shows among them, is precisely what has afforded Delia, Michael, Jez and co a rough ride. And until that part of the equation is solved I suspect Carrow Road will continue to carry the air of a brooding, petulant teenager who’s awaiting the chance to kick off.
But yesterday it didn’t get that chance and the uneasy peace at times broke out into singing and cheering and support for those in yellow and green. A fine concept.
And there is now a feeling of confidence among the faithful that when on our own patch this group of players have sussed out what it takes to win games of Championship football – a feeling that’s not always been there.
If we look back to those early season wins against Cardiff and Wigan, it was genuine seat of the pants, squeaky bum type stuff where the bare minimum amount of effort was delivered in order to get over the line. It felt at the time like an accident waiting to happen and so it transpired.
It doesn’t feel like that any more. It feels like the penny has finally dropped and there is a proper understanding of the battle that needs to be won before the points can be earned. No longer are we enduring the closing stages of homes games on the edge of our seats while watching it all unfold through our fingers.
(If the current upturn continues there’ll be plenty of time for that as we approach the run-in).
I’d even go as far as to say said faithful too, for the most part, now understands the inherent ugliness of the average game of Championship football. The beautiful game it most certainly isn’t and while we see flashes of flowing, eye-catching football for the most part it’s a battle of attrition.
To compare it with what we were party to last season is a futile exercise; it’s almost a different sport.
But, at home at least, players and crowd now appear to be on similar wavelengths and for the first time since October we give off the air of contenders.
Crunch time of course arrives next Saturday when Neil Warnock’s troops await our arrival at the Cardiff City stadium, and where if Alex Neil’s men get too precious over their ‘Premier League quality’ (a phrase the manager uses a little unwisely) then they’re going to be in for another rough ride.
It’ll be no place for those who don’t like it up ’em.
Off the field there’s no escaping the struggle that this club has in both shifting players out and getting players in.
The board’s decision to throw their full weight behind the manager came with an acknowledgement that the squad needed a refresh, with some ins and outs that would reinvigorate a jaded looking bunch. So far only Martin Olsson has left the building.
Given that, to date, precisely zilch has parted the Carrow Road coffers one can only assume the Olsson money to have been used to prop up an ailing cashflow. Therefore to free up some money to bring players in someone else had to depart – Robbie Brady being the obvious one.
Of course, that hasn’t happened either and with just two days left in the window we have a squad that is weaker than it was on 31st December and in the intervening days, Harry Toffolo – an accomplished left-back – has been farmed out on loan. Therefore the aforementioned Brady, him of the many suitors, is the only natural fit for that particular berth.
Naturally work aplenty is going on behind the scenes to rectify this but, as ever, we’re leaving it late and there can be no positive spin to being turned down by two targets inn two days last week. From the outside looking in it looks a bit of a muddle.
It’s only fair of course to keep the powder dry until the window closes – and who knows, it could be a busy two days – but whether it’s the personnel involved in the process or the process itself, changes need to be made in the way this club goes about its transfer business.
Are they targeting unrealistic options? Are they struggling to ‘sell’ the club? If so, why are they struggling? Why are are (some) clubs simply better at doing business than we are?
And the flip side: are we setting realistic fees for our own players given our need to sell? Do we need to reassess our pay structure? Why can we not refresh our squad in the way we want?
All questions that still need asking and then addressing, but which have needed addressing for the past two and a half seasons.
There’s still much to be improved upon, both on and off the field.