Torpor, trepidation, maybe also an element of self-doubt if you will – I was not looking forward to the visit of Burnley on Sunday.
Leaving our warm and comfortable front room in the city and replacing tracky bottoms with Levis seemed like a monumental thing to achieve for a seemingly worthless purpose but I managed to cope with the procedure as I always do. I like to look half decent at a match and made the effort, not expecting any tangible reward for my endeavours.
Sombre isn’t a deep enough word for the mood of fellow NCFC supporters on my way to the ground. There was little of the usual banter, merely a heads-to-the-floor attitude demonstrated by everybody which roughly translated to “we’ve paid so we’re going to the game – we owe it to ourselves to do so”.
But once inside the Carra and seated, a team that looked a touch questionable began to give us collective Yellows something of interest to latch on to.
A couple of guys near me in the Barclay loudly voiced the question, “who the **** is Billy Gilmour”, which I have to say made us all laugh. Were we better off without the most-hyped young footballer of the season? Anybody at Carrow Road on Sunday would emphatically answer: Yes.
Dean Smith said afterwards: “We’re still fighting and I think today was important for not just ourselves, but our supporters as well. It’s still a mountain but we’ve got a few rungs up it now.“
Cheers Dean, I thought ladders rather than mountains had rungs, but I get your drift.
Teemu Pukki added: “We need to go into every game to win three points. We really want to stay in this league and we have to do what it takes. We know we have a good team with good players. It’s just up to us to show it every week and today we did. We need to show it next weekend as well in a tough game against Manchester United, but we need to go there to take points and we need all our players to do it.”
Well, I’ll tell you something Teemu. As long as you and your colleagues keep up that level of commitment we will remain right behind you. Too little too late? Of course, but from a personal point of view, I haven’t enjoyed a match as much in ages.
Only last week I wrote that I see no future for us next season but like Manic Street Preachers famously said: “We say what we like but reserve our right to change our minds any time we feel like it as well”.
Apart from a very late cameo from Brandon Williams, Mathias Normann was the only loanee to feature and he played exceptionally well, topped off with an intuitive assist for Pukki. The rest of those on show should be the core for next season and after Sunday’s performance, my levels of despondency have lifted. Not to the point of thinking we will walk the Championship, but at least I am now certain that we will be competitive.
To be fair to all concerned, referee Michael Oliver was as poor as usual and let an uncharacteristically tepid Burnley get away with some mildly nasty stuff, which was well below their usual standards.
We could hear Sean Dyche from the Upper Barclay but even he couldn’t motivate Maxwel Cornet to convert the far post sitter that set our collective hearts beating in triple time.
A draw against the poorest side I’ve seen in ages would have been unjust.
I’m not daft enough to think we will remain in the Premier League at season’s end but at least there were a few signs on display that Dean Smith might just be able to sort us out for the Championship campaign, at least if Stuart Webber keeps his nose away from recruitment issues anyway.
There’s no acknowledgement of an individual message in my post-match Inbox this time around but everybody had a common theme: “if only we could have played like that throughout the season”.
Just as you might think of quitting – and I really did – you get a performance like Sunday’s.
I’ll leave you with one of the finest pop songs of all time from a lad who grew up not that far from Kenny McLean: