Norwich City Report Card: A pillar to lean on, a boat to manage and a point proven
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In our latest Norwich City end of season report card, MICHAEL BAILEY reflects on one of the Canaries’ true unsung heroes of the 2017-18 EFL Championship campaign – Timm Klose.
This time last year, the Norwich City wind was blowing in a pretty strong direction for one Swiss’ 2018 World Cup hopeful.
That was the initial point. The chance of making football’s biggest summer festival if the right summer offer fell Timm Klose’s way.
Just as fresh in the memory was his first full year spent in English football’s second tier, that seemed to cause the centre-back issues too many times for comfort.
One in particular stood out: Klose’s momentary risk on a bobbly byline at the Pirelli Stadium. In the end it played a huge part in a costly February defeat at Burton, that proved a late charge for the play-offs wasn’t going to happen.
Three games later, manager Alex Neil was sent on his way.
The Championship didn’t appear to suit Klose. With a big season ahead and City already earmarking money to save, cutting losses while recognising Timm had at least hung around to give getting Norwich City back into the Premier League a go, seemed a logical conclusion.
Then along came new German head coach, Daniel Farke.
Maybe the circumstances were more comfortable. His greater Championship experience. No more surprises at what opponents would have in store, or the referees allow. All mixed in with being settled in a lovely part of the world.
Pinning all that together, was Timm Klose’s Norwich City boat.
First emerging at a press conference in August, the boat did lose people – the most memorable overboard falls belonging to Nelson Oliveira via Fulham and before Nottingham Forest’s visit, plus Josh Murphy as City headed to Middlesbrough.
But the purpose of the boat was never to stop people from getting wet; more that the boat had to stop to pick up the drenched men and make sure they were integrated back into the crew.
The fact Klose took it upon himself to bring the boat into the open underlined his different role and view on life at Carrow Road. He was no longer a signing to simply pin hopes on, but a senior figure that wanted to lead and be leaned on.
After a pre-season injury at Cambridge – Alex Pritchard shared that pain – Klose first appeared in the home victory over Birmingham; the game separated from City’s 4-0 mauling at Millwall by only an international break.
From there, be it three at the back or four, Klose barely missed a game. A key cog in a season-long defensive effort that impressed more often than it imploded.
Yet as a contradiction, his best moments came at the other end. A bullet header to propel City to victory over Sheffield Wednesday at Carrow Road; a stunning right-foot cross from the left that Jamal Lewis gleefully flicked home for a dramatic late FA Cup equaliser at Stamford Bridge.
And of course, the mighty 95th-minute leap that rewarded Grant Hanley’s good work and somehow added one more game to Ipswich’s desperate derby run.
But for this correspondent, it was the quieter moments that pleased. The lack of any real howlers. The regular words in the ear of Lewis, Christoph Zimmermann, Harrison Reed and anyone else willing to listen – alongside responsible quotes in the aftermath of such final-day disappointment in Sheffield. The commitment to threaten his World Cup dream and consciously decide to pay back Norwich City with another year – albeit far from philanthropically.
Klose wanted to prove to himself and everyone else that he could handle the Championship. That box can now be ticked.
All of which leaves us looking forward once again. The financial pressures on City are such that any senior player signed before this time last year – not just Klose – is likely to be moved on to save money, if the right offer comes in.
Such restraints also mean an extension of the 30-year-old’s current deal due to expire next summer, would most likely only come with a significant pay cut – and that would test anyone’s affection for a club when a career’s later years come into view.
Klose’s good work – even in the English second tier – means his World Cup dream isn’t quite over just yet, with a chance to join Switzerland’s provisional squad as fifth-choice centre-back in their Russia 2018 build-up.
Regardless, at least this time Klose can spend the close-season knowing he played a key role in stabilising a difficult Canaries campaign.
And he’ll be just as important – if not more so – when it all kicks off again in August.
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