Forget the obstacles put in the way by a Swansea side who, in the first half, did to City what City have done to so many this season.
Forget that the stats, for once, saw City come out second best.
Forget that City scored with their only on-target shot of the game.
And forget that a pocket of Leeds fans took to Twitter last night to deride us for being lucky/quiet/tuneless/inbred/farmers/unworthy.
The purpose of the exercise was to get three more points on the board, and it mattered not one jot that we were not at our fluent best or that Graham Potter, quite rightly, could point to the stats to argue his team were good value for at least a point. And the fact we appeared to needle some of Bielsa’s babes was a big fat bonus.
This wasn’t vintage City, it didn’t need to be, but this was City digging in when the Swans pretty passing patterns created too many dangerous-looking inroads for comfort. There’s no escaping the fact that Ollie McBurnie up top would have added another layer. I guess his illness will be perceived as another stroke of City luck by the Yorkshire hoards.
Potter had done his homework and set his side up in a shape that used two Swansea veterans to pin back Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons and prevent them from hitting those advanced areas from which we launch so many attacks.
While this created a problem on both sides, the fact Emi Buendia naturally drifts – unlike Argos Hernandez who is a more traditional winger – meant City had next to no threat down the right flank, and the Swans prospered.
Even the usually effective high press didn’t work particularly well in the first-half, and Mike van der Hoorn and co were technically adept enough to pass round and through it almost with impunity. But, with our full-backs having no option but to play as old school full-backs and Christoph Zimmermann and Ben Godfrey being dragged into a technical rather than bruising battle, they responded to the challenge in a way befitting a side with the scent of Premier League in their nostrils.
The passing too was imprecise and without the fluidity with which we’ve become accustomed but, bar a few flailing arms and furrowed brows, the heads were clear and the belief in the system remained. And even amidst the nerves and wayward passes, the quality we have ensured that half-chances still came our way. From the best one, Teemu Pukki screwed his shot wide with Carrow Road waiting for the net to bulge.
There was still no escaping the quality of Swansea’s passing, which was as good as anything we have seen at Carrow Road all season, and while the whites of Tim Krul’s eyes were never exposed, it took one herculean challenge from Zimmermann to smother a Dan James cross that was about to offer Wayne Routledge a tap-in. Upon such heroism, promotions are built.
The half-time whistle was, nevertheless, a welcome sound and such is the faith we all now have in Daniel Farke and his team, there was a collective belief that the second half would bring with it renewed hope and vigour. And sure enough…
A few tactical tweaks later, coupled no doubt with a reminder that Championship wins have to be earned, and it was a more positive, energetic City that began the second half, with Marco Stiepermann noticeably getting closer to Pukki – forming at times a top two.
And of course, when you have a little magician like Buendia in your side, you always have the unexpected in your armoury. His 54th-minute strike, set up by some clever play from the man at Collection Point B, was as unerring as it was unexpected.
As others have said, for all his obvious quality, spectacular goals have not been his thing so far but as his howitzer fizzed passed a helpless Kristoffer Nordfeldt his value nudged up another million or two. And let’s not forget, as someone reminded me on Twitter, he was purchased for a fee akin to that we received from Bristol City for the services of one Marley Watkins.
From thereon in it was very much a case of game management and, while the flow was still elusive, the swagger returned. And while Carrow Road remained a nervy place – let’s call it the squeaky bum effect – you got the feeling the players felt it was a game they controlled. And other than a van der Hoorn header that flew over, Krul had few scares.
The substitutions too were telling and timely. Mo Leitner, Mario Vrancic and Timm Klose would grace any team in this division yet were restricted to time-buying cameos, such is the value of a first-XI shirt right now.
Leitner, in particular, cut a frustrated figure on the touchline and Farke can expect a tap on the door between now and Wednesday. There is a hunger and desire in this group right now; one that needs to be carefully nurtured and managed because it’s that which could just take us all the way.
Performances of technical excellence and which epitomise the beautiful game may just be few and far between over the next ten games, but last night’s ability to find a way/get the job done (take your pick) was the latest reminder of how the Class of 2019 differs from its 2018 counterpart.
Pretty football alone is insufficient to achieve anything, but when it’s wedded to grit, desire, resilience and togetherness, then good things can happen. And good things are happening.
So, all eyes turn to Bramall Lane and Ashton Gate. No pressure lads.