Eight days on from that goal in that game, and it still makes the hairs on the back of the neck stand on end. Such was the buzz and, potentially, the significance of said afternoon, for once it was rather convenient that an international break should present itself.
Seven extra days to mull it over in the mind or, better still, head to YouTube and relieve the grand finale all over again. As new MFW columnist, Clare Thomas, described in the week, it really is the gift that keeps on giving.
That our heroes have been schmoozing (and training) in Florida has given them a new, untried audience on whom to regale the tale of being 3-2 down on 92 minutes and yet still winning the game. Hopefully, the Tampans (honestly, I Googled it) were suitably impressed.
The Tampa trip was, of course, all part of the club’s tie-in with Visit Tampa Bay – those responsible for potentially the world’s worst half-time ‘entertainment’ – but the messages emerging from Florida are that it’s been a masterclass in PR and camaraderie, with the travelling party comprising a whole host of folk from outside the club who have enjoyed the trip of a lifetime.
We look forward to the Bowles family’s ‘letter from America’.
Much has been made of the closeness of the group – players and officials alike – but it’s the bond between the players themselves that appears to be underpinning much of the good stuff that is happening on the pitch right now.
Jordan Rhodes, in particular, has spoken candidly about it and how this dressing room is literally the only one he can recall where there is no-one within it who he felt the need to avoid. Quite a statement from someone who is 28 and who has played for nine different clubs – although he appears such a nice, decent bloke it’s hard to imagine him not engaging with anybody.
But it did get me thinking … in general, how important is the bond between the players in a dressing room?
Clearly, there is a level of bonhomie in the City dressing room right now that has been carefully nurtured by Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber, and equally clear is how highly the pair regard this particular trait among the group.
In City’s case, it is important. We’re currently in the game of trying to find combinations of XI that are greater than the sum of their parts, while also looking for those marginal gains that will give us the slightest of edges over those in the pack.
So, unquestionably, if a harmonious dressing room that embraces the ‘all for one, and one for all’ ethos helps by 0.5%, then it’s worth sidelining or removing those individuals who threaten its equilibrium. And that’s what they’ve done.
But is harmony, banter and being a band of brothers a must for every successful team? Even those less concerned with those marginals gains, but who just look to get eleven talented individuals on the pitch?
I’m not sure.
It’s an argument I’ve frequently with my dad, to be honest (never a good idea). He’s very much in the Webber/Farke camp, but I’m less convinced that the be all and end all in the professional game is a dressing room that doubles as a bunch of mates on a night out.
In fact, I’d go as far as to say that a group without that edge to it is more likely to be one that, when the chips are down, appears brittle and perhaps has that soft underbelly so unbefitting of a professional sports team.
Plenty of successful teams have had famously fractious dressing rooms, notably the Manchester Utd one that included Messrs Cole and Sheringham and also, going back a bit further, the Leeds dressing room of the 1970s, which included the Bremners, the Giles’ and the Clarkes, amongst a whole host of other spikey characters. Don’t tell me that was all back-slapping, gummy bears and knock-knock jokes.
And from my own, admittedly amateur, playing days there was no direct correlation between good sides and non-fractious dressing rooms. An edge is always needed, one that stops it getting too cozy and which permits those who need geeing up to be told as much.
But, the bottom line is, with regard to City, it’s certainly one of the many ingredients that have transformed them from mid-tablers to promotion contenders, and it’s something those at the helm will be looking to build on rather than letting slide.
January, if indeed the club is in a position to bring in any new faces, will be carefully managed and any potential new arrivals will be as much about the person as the technical ability of the person.
Yet, lurking within the group in one who, if needs be, can add the steel that stops the gummy bears being handed out. One who has garnered a reputation on the pitch as no-nonsense and who tends to say it as it is. Step forward Tim Krul.
The Dutchman may not have enjoyed quite the smooth start he’d have liked to his City career but, the odd rick aside, he’s now the penalty-saving keeper than Louis van Gaal turned to in Brazil 2014 when he needed some balls. And he’s demonstrated that among the fist-bumps and high fives he does possess a mean streak.
Just ask Jamal Lewis, or Todd Cantwell, or Max Aarons, or Timm Klose, or in fact anyone who needs telling. Krul, as one of the squad’s seniors, commands respect. When he speaks they listen.
Also, with Grant Hanley now signed up to these parts until the 2020s, there is, behind the genuine bonhomie, some dressing room steel that hopefully will ensure that there will be no laurel resting in NR1.
So, perhaps on this occasion, Dad and I are both right! Odd.
Now… back to YouTube.