I was tempted to do a cut and paste job from my Thursday morning piece; the one that told of City again overcoming adversity to squeeze out a narrow 2-1 over Forest, sealed by a deflected Emi Buendia shot from outside the box.
Okay, so I’d have had to smooth out the bit about Hughton setting Forest up with a 10-man defence in the first half and replace it with a paragragh around the fluency and attacking intent of Tony Mowbray’s Rovers team, but I reckon I could have just about got away with it.
If nothing else it would have saved me from having to find a fresh set of superlatives to describe City’s latest victory from the jaws of defeat escapade, all while coping with injury crisis from hell.
Because what’s happening is remarkable.
To the rest of the football world (and the uninitiated), there is nothing especially unreal about a team that last season was part of the richest league in the world now sitting top of the Championship by three points.
After all, teams who benefit from Premier League parachute payments have a distinct advantage over those who don’t, and having sold only two players in the summer, City’s squad should be better equipped than most to have another crack at promotion.
There is even a danger that we, the supporters, take for granted the churning out of wins in the manner they are currently occurring.
We’re almost too close to fully appreciate the scale of the achievement and only by taking a step back can we really see what an outstanding effort it’s been by all of those who call Colney home.
An injury list that started all the way back in February, when Sam Byram suffered that hamstring injury against Liverpool, was literally added to on a weekly basis as summer gave way to autumn.
Since the start of the season, *deep breath* … Onel Hernandez (hip), Kenny McLean (knee), Kieran Dowell (ankle), Sam Byram (hamstring), Xavi Quintilla (hip), Adam Idah (knee), Jordan Hugill (shoulder), Bali Mumba (knee), Todd Cantwell (hip), Teemu Pukki (hamstring), Tim Krul (thigh) and Lukas Rupp (hamstring) have all joined Byram in the Colney treatment room.
Throw into that mix, Max Aarons, who gave us one almighty scare when he ended up in that crumpled heap against Coventry, and you have 13 players; all realistic options for a start in Daniel Farke’s starting XI (I include Mumba because, after his Swansea cameo he’d have been the most likely replacement for Quintilla).
I make no apologies for listing the bloody obvious.
To put it into perspective, Liverpool’s injury list – the most brutal known to Man – maxed out at ten, although I’m not sure they were all absent at the same time.
That Stuart Webber had provided Farke with a squad that was plentiful was, of course, a godsend, but while he may now question why he allowed left-back Sam McCallum to depart on loan, there was no way he could have mitigated against having three front-line strikers all absent at the same.
It was at that point we stepped through the looking glass and into the realm of you-couldn’t-make-it-up.
But still the juggernaut rolled on. Still captain of HMS Pi$$ the League (@matty_leww in case you were wondering) kept on issuing the boarding passes.
On their knees in terms of numbers and key absentees, but just one single defeat in ten games amidst it all.
The players who have kept the bandwagon rolling of course deserve massive credit, but so too Farke and his team for patching up those who have had to play through varying levels of pain barrier and for keeping the minds and bodies refreshed.
The mental resilience – that very thing that looked so fragile and weak during Project Restart – has been of a level hitherto unseen in these parts. We have become far too accustomed to watching us buckle when the pressure gauge hits 11 – now the opposite is true.
This level of resilience even usurps that which we saw in 2018-19 when we earned the reputation for the late late shows. Resilience and heart that has seen 10 of their 11 wins achieved by a single goal.
And every week, new heroes pop up.
In midweek, it was Jacob Sørensen who emerged from his spell as makeshift left-back with a vital goal. This weekend it was the turn of the much-maligned Michael McGovern to take the plaudits for not only a solid all-round display but one particularly outstanding first-half save from Sam Gallagher’s header.
He may not have the grace of Tim Krul or possess the Dutchman’s ability to pass the ball but, as some predicted, with more game time under his belt he has started to resemble that keeper who won 32 international caps. And, in doing so, the confidence of those around him has been enhanced.
It may get a little hairy at times but in the same way we’re finding ways to score at the other end, so too are we able to dig in when digging in is needed.
Teemu Pukki is another whose played his way through a tricky spell into some form reminiscent of him in his 2018-19 pomp. A lesser man would have been destroyed by his Premier League experience but this was prime Teemu; a performance befitting a day on which he made it 50 goals in 100 games for City.
We’re watching one of the NCFC greats.
Finally… my dad – who wasn’t part of Farke’s starting (or finishing) XI yesterday, as much as he’d love to have been.
I spoke to him yesterday morning and we did our usual thing of predicting the outcome (both plumping for the I’d-take-a-draw platitude), but he was unusually downbeat. The continued covid-related restrictions that apply to a COPD-ridded 86-year-old had got him down, along with other health concerns that are not for this column.
But wind the clock forward to 16:55 and, thanks to Norwich City, it was a different person I spoke to on the other end of the phone as we followed the pre-match predictions up with the traditional post-match debrief.
It was literally with joy in his heart that Dad spoke, bursting with pride, of the “heroics” of Farke and the squad. Gone completely was the angst and worries of a few hours earlier; instead the virtues of Pukki et al were being extolled as if through the eyes of a wide-eyed-teenager.
What a man he is. What a club this is.
(I’m so glad I decided against the cut and paste).
Never Mind the Danger