The joy of watching Emma Radacanu winning the US Open last Saturday evening may have temporarily eased the pain of another City defeat but was only a short-term fix.
I’m not sure what specifically it is about an away defeat at the Emirates that encaptures everything about Norwich City in the Premier League (we tend to lose everywhere), but if I shut my eyes and think Premier League pain, I see City’s players, heads bowed, wearily trooping off the Emirates pitch.
We usually do okay, play some nice stuff, have a few little flurries without ever really looking like scoring, and then succumb to a soft goal or two. The support in that yellow corner of the Emirates is always magnificent yet they invariably depart hoarse and disappointed.
Saturday was no different. No different at all.
The hurt we all associate with our football club in the Premier League has gone nowhere… yet. Four consecutive Match of the Days given the swerve.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
There is, of course (before everyone shouts at me), plenty of mitigation that can be thrown at our uber-slow start but even the most skilful of spin doctors cannot massage away the fact it has been a nightmare of an opener. Give it as many revolutions as you like, we have still lost four from four and have scored a single goal, which came from the penalty spot.
We didn’t expect much from those games, but a point or two would have been nice, especially from Leicester and Arsenal, but that old Premier League failing of ours of *just* coming out the wrong side of a moment of controversy or slice of misfortune has gone nowhere.
The faces in yellow shirts may have changed but the same knot in the pit of the stomach remains when it all goes awry.
But… potentially a new dawn awaits.
For the sake of pure laziness, I’ll call them our deadline day signings – even though both were made in the days leading up to said deadline – but if Mathias Normann and Ozan Kabak are able to deliver as per their billing (as opposed to Billing), then maybe, just maybe, things are about to change.
I’ll not delve too deeply into the Hornets of Hertfordshire because Stewart has done that expertly in the match preview you will see tomorrow morning, but I’m not giving too much away if I say that our recent record against them is pretty rotten.
Watford’s propensity to put it up ’em when the Canaries are in town is well documented and where it invariably falls down is our inability, in the words of Worthy, to “earn the right” to weave our pretty passing patterns when faced with athletic, physical, fast and energetic opponents.
While it’s not a phrase I love, it was always hard to contest Nigel’s mantra – namely that in order to get it down and play there needs to be a solid base to work from; one formed by matching or bettering their opponents in terms of physicality and energy.
By 5pm on Saturday, we’ll have a better idea of whether or not this deficiency has been addressed in Farkeball 5.0.
Ignore for now the much-discussed changes in formation and tactics; the inability to gain a foothold in any game will render the best-made plans useless, especially in the Premier League.
Last season, City were good enough with the ball to outplay most teams and so were able to acquire possession of the ball through being technically superior. The need to battle and fight for control was largely negated by being better than almost everyone else.
Watford, of course, were the exception to this rule. They did bully us. Twice.
So, as well as being a chance to get some of those damned elusive Premier League points on the board, it will also be a barometer of how effective the summer overhaul has been in making us bully-proof.
If that box has indeed been ticked, then even if Saturday doesn’t go as we all desperately hope, then at least we have given ourselves a chance. If we remain pushovers when the elbows are out, the tackles are flying in and the pace is at breakneck, then it could be a long old seven months.
Please let it be the former.
Never Mind the Danger…