David Hannant: Panic station is still a way down the line for me
PUBLISHED: 13:20 04 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:20 04 September 2019
There’s no sugar coating the fact that the weekend’s loss was disappointing.
Several of City's top men had clear off days and from the highlights, we looked sluggish.
Four games in and it was the first defeat in the league that truly felt like a defeat.
Liverpool was a gimme, whatever happened, and we showed enough to demonstrate that we can compete at this level.
Ditto, Chelsea, the expansive football and creativity again felt like defeat was a harsh result.
Whether it was the stature of the opposition lowering our expectations or the level of our performances being generally high, but it was easy to pick out the positives from those defeats.
West Ham, though, felt entirely different. It was the first defeat that truly felt like defeat, complete with the deflating feeling of having been clearly second best.
Odd as it sounds, but perhaps we are all a bit guilty of having underestimated the Irons - which is a huge disrespect to them, as a Premier League mainstay.
Of course, as fans, we do believe we deserve to be at this level and can compete with the very best, and thus feel these are the type of games we should be winning.
But cast your minds back to Preston away last year.
City were at the very height of their powers, having just humbled Leeds and really starting to build momentum, when they went away to a less fancied team and were rolled over comfortably.
In terms of their positions in their respective leagues, Preston and West Ham are fairly similar.
With the greatest amount of respect, neither are expected to pull up any trees, but neither are they likely to struggle.
So the point I'm making here is twofold; first, we have no divine right to roll anyone over, and second off days happen.
To a certain point, it shows just how far we have come in a short period of time, to think we're genuinely gutted at losing away at West Ham - a fixture we haven't won in nearly 30 years by the way.
But it could also be the reality check that we all need - a reminder that there will be tough games this season outside of the obvious Liverpool and Man City.
But at the same time, my Norwich City train is several stops away from panic station.
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After the game, I saw a rather extraordinary number of posts on social media and forums effectively writing the season off already - as if the bubble burst.
Suddenly, the phenomenal Emi Buendia was a has-been and the terrific Todd Cantwell was yesterday's news.
Suddenly, we were destined for the drop, lacking a plan B and all of last year's work was forgotten.
Obviously, I'm exaggerating a wee bit to make a point, but reading some things genuinely felt like certain fans had collectively lost the plot.
Even somebody I have a great deal of respect for suggested that the loss was the honeymoon over.
I don't see it that way, I see it as a crucial part of the learning curve that this season would be.
Ditto, despite City sitting in the bottom three with three points out of a possible 12, I genuinely don't see this is a bad start.
Plonked anywhere else in the season, three points from the four fixtures we have had are a fairly realistic return, really.
I also suspect that plenty of teams around us will pick up similar hauls from the equivalent fixtures of their own.
Losing to West Ham in a game in which several of our key players had off days - and several of theirs hit their stride - is nowhere near enough for me to start panicking.
The wretched luck we have had with injuries to centre backs is a big concern, but again, until we find ourselves playing Dennis Srbeny as a makeshift defender, I'm not panicking. Well, perhaps a bit sooner than that, but not yet.
That said, it has been a little bit of a baptism of fire and the visit of Manchester City after the international break means this is not particularly likely to let up.
Obviously, like the Liverpool tie, the clash against the champions is a gimme - anything we get out of that game would very much be a bonus and unless it turns into a complete rout we should still be able to hold our heads high.
Then the real season begins.
The five games after City are all the type of matches we need to be picking points up in (though I may being a little facetious about the fifth of these).
This time last year, we were heading into an international break with one win in seven, but then started flying up the league.
While I definitely don't expect to fly up to quite the same heights, I am picturing it being another turning point.
The break now needs to be used to regroup, keep the positivity up, not lose concentration and build for the big slog ahead. OTBC
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