Connor Southwell: Tim Krul’s experience will be pivotal for Norwich City in survival mission
PUBLISHED: 18:00 04 June 2020
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Tim Krul has emerged as a Norwich City hero this season.
From the penalty-saving exploits at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to the numerous reflex stops that have prevented City from losing their way within games - the Dutch international’s career resurrection has been timely and special.
It was only a year previous that serious question marks were being placed against his name as the Canaries plotted their route through the top flight.
Now, those doubts have been exchanged for pure admiration and genuine affection. Krul’s quality has been a rare shining light in a campaign which has seen City tread a significant amount of water.
Krul is, surely, odds-on to become the first goalkeeper since Andy Marshall to lift the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy - albeit in front of an empty Carrow Road.
For all the technical qualities Krul possesses in regards to his goalkeeping, it is the intangibles that have made him such an integral and prominent part of Daniel Farke’s squad.
In a squad containing a number of academy graduates and inexperienced top-flight players, Krul stands alongside Alex Tettey as a rare experienced head.
Krul possesses the innate capability of understanding when to give the supporters a much-needed geeing up. These are the marginal gains that can produce the extra percentage needed to create a winning goal or conjure up a masterful piece of defensive quality to see a match out.
His influence this season has been felt in the stands. At times, it feels as though he has been standing in the midst of the Barclay - bellowing instructions and waving flags, such has been his presence.
Equally, when he stands on his goal-line, he has an incredible ability of making a sea of people stand alongside him. For a man who established his career in front of the Gallowgate End at St James Park, perhaps his showmanship isn’t surprising.
But, referring to the shot-stopper as a mere showman is neglecting the talent that oozes out of his gloves.
He has emerged as City’s stand-out player. A difference maker. A match saver. An FA Cup tie winner.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of a serious, career-threatening injury, Krul is back in the international picture with the European Championships on the horizon.
Immediately, his focus must remain on the task at hand with the Canaries. For a man who feeds off the energy of a vocal support and intense atmospheres - how does behind closed doors football lend itself to a ‘keeper who has learnt to incorporate the energy of the crowd into his game?
Krul’s experience will be key to City after the restart. His encouragement to the young backline key in how they play the game.
His game management is another element of his game often lost. Some coaches would refer to it as ‘using his experience’, but if City manage to work themselves into contention for survival - then every second shaved off the clock will be intrinsic to getting points on the board.
Krul is a player who thrives off pressure - ask Marcus Rashford or Louis van Gaal.
The world watched as he steered the Netherlands into a World Cup semi-final after being introduced as a 120th-minute substitute with the sole purpose of producing the goods in a high-pressure situation.
City fans will recall the manner in which he won the mental battle during that famous night in north London in early March, armed only with a bottle full of names and his experience.
So often in football mentality is referenced as being a massive asset. It can prove to be the deciding factor between those who make it and those who fall by the wayside.
City need every ounce of good fortune, experience and consistency they can muster at present. The task remains stark, some will write them off entirely, just as they did when Krul suffered his knee injury in 2015.
Doubt has turned into respect, perhaps a more prestigious accolade than admiration. Krul provokes trust from supporters and they’ll know that, with him standing between the goal posts, City stand a chance at survival.
Goalkeepers are often cast as the heroes or villains of the piece, their saves and mistakes magnified due to the small margins in matches.
City possess one who knows only too well how to thrive in high pressure environments. The key now is that experience and expertise rubs onto a squad who have failed to perform in decisive moments this season.
If he managed that, his hero status would be upgraded to that of a legend.