So, how the hell is anyone supposed to make sense of that?
We asked for more excitement, for more thrills and spills, but now all of those things have happened it maybe doesn’t seem such a great idea.
The debate on Canary Call was “would we prefer an attritional 1-0 win for City than a seven-goal ‘thriller’ (use the term loosely)”, the conclusion being that, probably, yes we would.
If, of course, City had come out on the right side of seven goals, literally no-one would prefer a 1-0 grind – and take a hideous penalty miss and an equally hideous goalkeeping error out of yesterday’s equation and City would have done.
Unfortunately, yesterday will be remembered for those two moments of horror plus some kamikaze defending in the 20 minutes following Tim Krul’s blunder, and less so for a first half that was as good as anything we’ve seen under Daniel Farke.
Alas, it does all boil down to results and those for who Team Farke is not the answer have been offered their first few rounds of ammunition for the season. But, for me at least, there appeared little he could have done differently to change yesterday’s outcome.
Most agreed that the starting XI had a nice attacking balance to it, the only question mark at the time being the decision to deploy Ivo Pinto at left-back against arguably Albion’s biggest threat.
As it transpired, Pinto had a fine game – even finer when you consider the fractured pre-season he’s had – and turned in a performance that more than justified the head coach’s decisions, so it’s difficult to find too many flaws in that starting line-up.
And for most of the first 45, it delivered. In fact, until Jordan Rhodes’ penalty miss, there was a cohesion and fluency to City’s attacking play that was rarely seen at Carrow Road last season.
Work has clearly been ongoing to make us more potent going forward, and while the build-up remains patient and deliberate at times, there was a clear desire to occasionally mix it up with a longer ball into the channels. And it worked. As did the quicker, sharper passing in the final third.
West Brom, for all of their big-name, big-value defenders were stretched, and with Mo Leitner at the heart of everything, linking beautifully with Kenny McLean and Teemu Pukki, there was the rhythm to our play that Farke has spoken about so often.
And then, of course, there was Onel Hernandez, a total bundle of energy who looked likely to make something happen every time he got the ball, and it was no surprise that he was the provider for the first goal, although credit too to Pukki for keeping it alive.
The finish was just about as Jordan Rhodes as it can get.
Although we didn’t appreciate it at the time, the sight of Ben Marshall horribly misjudging the flight of Matt Phillips’ cross was a glimpse into what was to come, the only saving grace being the rule change that saved Krul from an almost certain red for wiping out Dwight Gayle.
The response was good though and when Hernandez was brought down by Chris Brunt in the box, a deserved half-time lead looked the most likely outcome.
What followed needs little explanation, other than to say if your method of choice is to give the keeper ‘the eyes’ from the spot, then said keeper has to buy it. Otherwise, he’ll be able to throw his cap on it, Sam Johnstone-style.
Up until that point, Rhodes’ all-round contribution, not just in the box, had been excellent.
But that, for City, was just about as good as it got.
In actual game time, the Krul error was not far behind the penalty miss, although let’s not forget the role played in that debacle by Alex Tettey. Drag-backs when being closed down by two players 30 yards from your own goal are never a good idea.
I felt for Krul. These things happen – De Gea in the World Cup, Karius in the Champions League final etc – but not usually on your home debut. He’ll have wanted a hole in the ground to open up and dive in it.
Hopefully, Farke will keep a rather cooler head than those now questioning Krul’s credentials and extolling the virtues of Remi Matthews.
But there’s no escaping the fact his howler did trigger panic among those in front of him. What was a very composed performance in the first half became anything but in those fraught 20-odd minutes in the second-half.
Goals three and four for the Baggies, while not the result of such obviously glaring errors, were both avoidable, as was the corner that led to number three; Marshall and Tettey getting in each other’s way as scrambled minds took hold of once clear heads.
That City, amidst this madness, were still able to retain some attacking oomph was worthy of note and there was always the threat of Hernandez to turn to, even as the effect of Leitner and McLean faded. Worthy of a mention too was Onel’s 50-yard dash from left-wing to right-back to thwart a West Brom counter-attack – one that drew an ovation normally reserved for a goal.
So, despite some social media nonsense, there was still stuff to get excited about despite losing. WBA are not great, yet, and are still finding their Championship feet but those good individuals don’t stop being good individuals just because they now play in the second tier.
If you offer good players half a chance they’ll hurt you… and they did.
Equally, a good shape, a sound team structure and getting the tactics spot-on can be undone in an instant by individuals errors… and we made several.
But not time yet for dummies and prams to go their separate ways.