‘Don’t compare us...he’s the best I’ve seen’ – but Norwich City star is taking his chance to shine
While James Maddison comparisons are the stuff of punchline, there is nothing funny about the way Marco Stiepermann has filled the Norwich City void.
Stiepermann himself laughed at the idea of such judgment – but in turn the 27-year-old has now found his home in the central attacking midfield role left by Maddison’s £24m Premier League exit in the summer.
And with his first Championship goal of the season helping to book a superb 4-1 win at Swansea – maintaining the Canaries’ two-point lead at the summit in the process – Stiepermann is loving his chance to shine, which simply didn’t come in his first season at Carrow Road.
“James Maddison is the best player I’ve ever seen, so don’t compare me with him!” smiled Stiepermann.
“But I try to give my best in this position and at the minute, I’m just happy with all that’s happening – and with the team, even more.
“A player has to play in a position where he is best, and I think that is my best position. When I can play there I give my best, but also when I have to play left-back I give my best. It’s just not my best position.”
Stiepermann is aware of the competition in this current City squad – not only for where he plays, but across the entire pitch. It’s why players don’t want to come off the pitch through injury, and training is seeing each member of Daniel Farke’s squad desperately trying to further their cause.
“Especially when you are 4-1 in front, you want to end the game on the pitch and everyone knows what the competition is to get on the pitch in our team,” said Stiepermann.
“When I see Dennis Srbeny is not even in the squad, it’s just really tough for each and every one.
“I’ve said before, everyone has to be there with more than 100pc in every training session and that’s the way it needs to be.”
There is a clear temptation to revel in the Canaries’ current position as the season’s halfway point approaches – and the games continue to come thick and fast, with a trip to struggling Hull on Tuesday night (7.45pm).
Stiepermann sees that as a tougher test than the one City faced at a potential promotion rival like Swansea.
“I think it will be a totally different game compared to this because Swansea are a team that always wants to play football, it was a little bit good for us,” Stiepermann added.
“We know how hard it will be to play against Hull. It will be a game like against Millwall, but now we go as a team who is on the top, we have this confidence right now and we really know we can win this and every game.
“At the moment we can enjoy this position until Monday evening, and then it’s the next game waiting for us – and that is an even harder game than this one maybe.
“All I can say is we have to look from game to game, that’s the most important thing. There are many games still to come for us all.”
• For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…