Reality check? Being brought back down to earth? Or simply being faced by a hard-working, typical Tony Mowbray side who had weighed us up before kick off and stuck with their plan to press consistently hard, play to their strengths and ride their luck at times?
The choice, dear MFW readers, is yours.
Personally, I feel that the latter option wins the day because unlike, might I suggest, Millwall or Boro, Blackburn were well worth their point and I would say fair play to them. They gave as good as they got [especially in the physical sense] and they could have stolen a win as much as we could – despite Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia having eminently convertible chances at the end.
There were negatives and positives on Saturday of course and I’ll start with events at Carrow Road.
Positives? A fine finish from Kenny McLean as we stepped it up a gear in the second half. He took that superbly well, did the Mayor, who said after the game:
“These things happen and you can’t be perfect all the time but recently we’ve been near-perfect with the way we’ve been playing. It’s a point on the board and 28 from the last 30 isn’t a bad return. If we do the same again I think we’ll be sitting nicely”.
The performance of Jacob Sorensen. I thought he was great when he came on and was unlucky not to score late on. The performances of Olly Skipp and Max Aarons, who both stood out to me again in this match. And the way we battled throughout despite the tired legs.
Now, obviously, onto the negatives. The injuries of course.
Dimitris Giannoulis got an elbow in the face, had lengthy treatment and recovered for a couple of minutes, even putting over a decent cross or two before he had to go off after what I presume were the after effects of a concussive injury. Knowing a bit how these procedures work [as we all do by now] I’d guess he won’t be permitted to join the Greek travelling party. I would never deny a player his right to play for his country but in this case it might, in a perverse way, prove beneficial for NCFC as we enter the run-in.
Referee Keith Stroud could have looked much more closely at the original clash but being Stroud he wouldn’t, would he? He’s alongside Simon Hooper and Darren England in my book – as in not fit for purpose.
Ben Gibson’s incident when running out close to the left-side goalpost at the Barclay end looked far worse. There was no contact with anybody but he rolled his ankle and the stretcher procedure tells me that’s ligaments and in this case a season-ender. Oh $hit.
I’m no medico and it’s too early to judge in any case but let’s hope it’s not as bad as some of us suspect it might be. Daniel Farke will inform us in all good time of course and we must all hope for the best as I’m not sure how the final eight matches might pan out without him. If Grant Hanley and Zimbo can see out eight games each we’ll be fine but it’s certainly worrying from my point of view.
Away from ourselves there was a negative. Watford breezed past Birmingham to emerge just eight points behind us in the table.
But the positives on Saturday far outweighed that.
Despite an Ivan Toney penalty, Brentford were pegged back by Forest. The Bees will not be relevant to our season from this point.
And for the first time ever in my life I want to buy Mick McCarthy a drink. It could be John Smiths, It could be Smethwicks. It might even be Greene King but I don’t care if it’s Evian water. Mick, it’s on me for the pleasure of seeing the scoreline *Swansea City 0, Cardiff City 1*
I’ll treat Aiden Flint too if you like – that was a very encouraging result from our point of view and one that will serve to get us over the line.
That EFL Championship table looks just fine to me right now.
It was a funny old Saturday in football terms, as hunters of magic mushrooms growing under trees in Georgia USA would relate to.