Chris Goreham: Alex the Great survivor at Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 14:04 21 October 2019 | UPDATED: 14:04 21 October 2019
Do you remember that advert for Lucozade from the early 1990s when a breathless John Barnes tried to convince us that he had discovered something that could ‘get to your thirst fast’?
Other energy drinks are available, of course, and for those us who are not professional athletes they are only cracked open during a bout of man flu when the sympathy starts to run out.
Even 30 years ago, advertisers had the gumption to realise that one of the country's top footballers in an England shirt was a better ambassador than the more true to life image of someone feeling sorry for themselves while watching This Morning with Richard and Judy from underneath a duvet on the sofa.
Alex Tettey must remember that campaign because as he waited to be interviewed after the 0-0 draw at Bournemouth at the weekend he was glugging his way through something that was both refreshing and, if I remember the advert right, isotonic.
Tettey's return to the Norwich City team was undoubtedly a big reason for that long wait for a Premier League clean sheet coming to an end.
It's now more than seven years since the affable Norwegian turned up at Carrow Road and nothing sums up his value to the team better than the fact that he has been a rare constant in a turbulent few years at the club.
Signed by Chris Hughton, picked regularly by Neil Adams, described openly as 'the first name on the team sheet' by Alex Neil and now helping Daniel Farke to tighten up in the Premier League.
When so many and varied managers with their different approaches, challenges and pressures all think he's worth a place in their midfield it ought to be enough to convince anyone that his shortcomings are worth overlooking. Tettey's performance at Bournemouth proved that the things he can do are more important to the Canaries than the things that he can't.
The celebrations that greeted the final whistle in the away end on Saturday underlined how important and possibly significant it was that City suddenly looked like a much more difficult team to beat. It was certainly a far cry from the scenes in the immediate aftermath of their last draw, which was at Stoke back on Easter Monday. Many of the players collapsed to the floor after that 2-2 draw, worried that the two dropped points might ultimately cost them automatic promotion. It was if they had lost a cup final. If only they had known that Leeds would slip up against Brentford a couple of hours later and put City on the verge of the Premier League. Thanks Sergio Canos.
The point at Bournemouth arrived almost four years to the day since the 6-2 defeat at Newcastle that undermined the Canaries last Premier League campaign. It was a frantic game at St James' Park with the home side leading 3-2 after 62 minutes. Neil sensed a way back into the game for his team and brought on Wes Hoolahan at that point. He took off Tettey and by the 66th minute Newcastle led 5-2. Without him Norwich were incredibly open. There's a reason that he is the only player from that game who is still at the club.
After our interview at the weekend it would be nice to think that Tettey returned to the dressing room and emulated Barnes at the end of that advert by drop kicking his Lucozade can straight into the bin. Having seen him take a few shots at goal over the past seven years I can't say with any confidence that he would have succeeded but I do know that, even in his Italia '90 prime as an England man, Barnes would have had the can taken off him before he could have tried his party piece if he'd have been up against Tettey.