Dependable Tettey still as crucial as ever for Canaries
PUBLISHED: 06:00 11 February 2020
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Dependable. Modest. Underrated. That’s a three-word summary of Alex Tettey’s Norwich City career and, as the midfielder turns 34 in April, his influence is still as strong as ever.
The Norwegian has experienced every emotion on the footballing spectrum during his eight-year spell in Norfolk; from promotions to relegations and an overhaul of the football structure, he has stood tall through it all.
Numerous operators have arrived in an attempt to dethrone City's combative midfielder and found themselves secondary to his specific set of tools.
City bosses have also experimented with dropping Tettey from their thoughts in an attempt to move in a different direction, only for the 33-year-old to work his way back into the starting XI consistently.
Daniel Farke was another who felt he could implement a new philosophy without Tettey's steel, only to realise that the Norwegian provides the glue that can hold the Canaries midfield together.
He does have noticeable limitations, but his skillset is unrivalled by any other option currently available to City's boss.
Throughout his spell at Carrow Road, Tettey has been labelled as a footballer who lacks technique and impedes upon a possession-based style of play.
Under Farke, Tettey has been a revelation. His use of the ball is more intelligent, his positioning improved and his role critical.
Tettey's style isn't the antithesis of the Farke philosophy, he's a facilitator of it.
In the Championship, prior to injury, he allowed the metronomic Moritz Leitner to buzz with enthusiasm and dictate the tempo of matches whilst he occupied space and prevented counter-attacks with the protective shield he provides.
Rarely does he get the headlines or attention that he deserves because of the way he plays the game, but Tettey is one of those players that is appreciated more when he isn't part of the starting line-up.
In the Premier League, without his involvement, City look stretched in their defensive shape and vulnerable from counter-attacks. Tettey strengthens the central phase of the pitch and prevents through passes being played through the heart of City's defence.
Those reasons are behind the club's desire to secure a contract extension with Tettey and the two parties are in advanced talks over a new deal.
Should City suffer relegation this season, then in Tettey they possess an operator with the necessary ingredients to lead the charge back.
Selflessness isn't a trait many associate with professional footballers but Tettey's style is designed to extract the strengths of those around him rather than pushing the spotlight onto himself.
He doesn't possess the panache of an Emi Buendia or the output of Teemu Pukki, but Tettey's cog is key in City's clockwork working efficiently.
For all the discussion over his passing, Tettey has a pass success percentage of 88pc this season, which points towards how Farke has aided the simplification of his game rather than it proving Tettey has been moulded into a ball-playing central midfielder similar to Andrea Pirlo.
Tom Trybull possesses a number of attributes that Tettey relies upon to make an impact but the German is closer to being a playmaker than an enforcer.
Trybull's tenacity means he is less positionally aware during a defensive phase, and so provides less of a shield for the back four. Sometimes, that tenacity can work in City's favour but it can leave them exposed defensively.
For all the triumphs of City's recruitment staff since their arrival with Stuart Webber in 2017, locating a natural replacement for the Norwegian has proved testing.
City's reliance on Tetteyy does pose questions surrounding the long-term plan for that position.
The addition of Melvin Sitti, from FC Sochaux in January, is the latest contingency plan for Tettey's eventual departure.
Should Tettey pen a new contract, as expected, then Sitti is given an 18-month period to develop either inside the walls of Colney or out on loan.
Meanwhile, City reap the rewards of a rejuvenated Tettey. When ex-City boss Alex Neil described Tettey as a 'one of a kind', there was some doubt over whether he could play three games in a week.
Now, his fitness woes are seemingly behind him and City can depend on him producing consistently.
And should he sign a new deal, he would move closer to becoming City's highest appearance maker from overseas.
Tettey will rightly claim legendary status when he leaves.