‘You’re only as good as your last game’ they tell us, in which case City are really not that good, especially defensively.
But we know that’s not true. No one beats Manchester City by not being a good side.
Equally, Turf Moor offered a very different challenge, one that we knew was coming, and there’s no diluting the fact City failed to cope with it, particularly in an opening 15-minute blitz that won the game for Burnley.
It felt like Sean Dyche’s barely-disguised contempt for those who think they’re good enough to play out from the back was unleashed on City, those gravelly tones urging his troops in those moments before leaving the dressing room to unleash hell on those ‘fancy-dan Canaries’.
Unfortunately for City, the Lancastrian legions carried out their Maximus’s instructions to the letter and Ben Godfrey and Ibrahim Amadou, particular, suffered at the hands of a couple of claret-clad gladiators.
It was unedifying to watch, as the high-intensity bombardment was launched and we struggled to match both the physicality and relentlessness of it – the onslaught unravelling in the very way Dyche had dreamt it on Friday night.
Yet Chris Woods’ opener had nothing to do with any of the above. Instead, it was just plain, common-or-garden poor marking that allowed the New Zealander to head in from close range, all the hard work having been done by Ashley Westwood’s fine inswinging, near-post delivery.
But it was soft, really soft, and just as Daniel Farke’s team had identified Man City’s weakness in that same area, we too have been marked down as being fragile from set-pieces. It’s an area that needs addressing if we are serious about staying up.
Woods’ second exposed that same fragility, only this time from open play, and again it looked a little too easy; the cross being ushered in too obligingly in the first place and the striker’s move on Ben Godfrey being completed with minimal resistance.
14 minutes. Game over. Just how Dyche had planned it.
From there it was a case of Burnley stepping off the gas but keeping their defensive shape to nullify our attacking threat – and they did it well.
Yes, we grew into the game and had more of the ball but if was powder-puff stuff for long spells with the greatest threat coming from the right-boot of Mo Leitner, who hit the post and thundered a couple more just wide from distance.
Of course, the margins remain fine and if Leitner’s strike had rebounded to Todd Cantwell instead of just out of his reach, it would have just been the fillip City needed, but there was a solidity about the Burnley defending that right now we can only dream of.
However, the reality is that Burnley are well-drilled, well organised and have a group of players experienced in Premier League football. We have two of those three, but right now are suffering from the lack of PL nous when playing away from home.
And only Premier League game time will give the players that know-how. We need to be patient.
Despite Burnley being one of those games singled out as an opportunity for points, there was an inevitability about the outcome and as unusual and unexpectedly brilliant last Saturday was, yesterday was a bread-and-butter Premier league away day. Over the years we’ve had plenty, and there’ll be more to come.
When you’re Norwich City and you’ve been awarded temporary membership of the elite club, there’ll be no ‘turning the corner’ when it comes to picking up away wins. They’ll be rare and special when they come along – that’s the reality.
So, those who got sniffy over yesterday’s defeat could be in for a tough season. Home is where the heart is and also happens to be where we will be collecting the amounts of points needed to stay in this league. A vibrant Turf Moor was and is key to Dyche’s masterplan, just as a rocking Carrow Road is going to be vital to Farke’s.
Selhurst Park will offer a similar challenge to yesterday, so let’s brace ourselves for another nervy and potentially fraught afternoon, but still go there with a belief that we can get something and that this group will give their everything to the cause. Because they will.
And that’s why, even in those tumultuous opening 15 minutes at Turf Moor, it was impossible to feel even the slightest bit of ire toward this group.
There will be more Burnleys down the road but equally, the ethos won’t change and however red-faced our passing out from the back makes the Dyches and Allardyces of this world, we’ll not be changing our way. And I love that.
Last Saturday was one of those we’ll never forget; yesterday was one we want to.
Welcome to life in the Premier League.