David Hannant: It's Todd time! Why Cantwell could be this season's surprise sensation

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 August 2019

Todd Cantwell has been in superb form for City in their first two games. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Todd Cantwell has been in superb form for City in their first two games. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

Following what was a close to perfect performance in Saturday's win over Newcastle, I could have chosen any individual to devote this column to.

There were so many stand out performances, from the dominant Mo Leitner with his 90-odd passes, to the tireless Tom Trybull and, obviously, the hat-trick hero Teemu Pukki.

However, the man I want to talk about this week is somebody who has put in two exemplary displays out of two games - and admittedly somebody I didn't actually expect to be saying too much about.

I speak, of course, of Dereham's own Todd Cantwell.

The youngster came in for a bit of stick last season - unfairly if you ask me - but I must confess, I probably wouldn't have batted an eyelid if he had been shipped out on loan to the top end of the Championship (or a similar level).

However, if you were to roll the clock back 12 months I probably also wouldn't have been totally shocked if Marco Stiepermann had made for the exit.

In the end, the German became a major cog in the City machine and proved an invaluable part of the title-winning triumph.

Now, I can't imagine life without him in or around the team.

Who really saw that coming?

He was undoubtedly a surprise package and now I feel Toddy is ready to do the same thing.

I might be wrong, but I think it would be fair to say that when we were all predicting what eleven Daniel Farke would go for, few would have pictured Cantwell's name appearing on it.

However, his display against Newcastle was the best I've seen from him in a City shirt and, to be fair, Liverpool wasn't far behind.

His work rate, his vision, his movement, his touches, everything was just top notch.

He doesn't look in the slightest bit out of place in what is the best league in the world.

So much of this has to be down to the lad's attitude.

I was never one of those who gave him stick last season, but at the same time he was never really a stand out performer last term.

It was clear he had the talent and his potential was limitless, but he never quite looked the finished article - and he still has a way to go to become it.

In these first two games though, he has looked something else.

Everything I've seen of him so far screams out that he has put a hell of a lot of work in over the summer break.

He looks fitter, he looks stronger, he looks more of a man.

From his occasional outbursts on social media in the past, it has seemed criticism has sometimes got to him - as you would expect being a young man.

What we've seen from him so far though tells me he has now accepted these harsh words as a challenge and is determined to prove his critics wrong.

After the game, Daniel Farke was cautious not to give him too much praise - to keep his feet on the ground - and rightfully so. But I'm not going to be as cautious.

Everything about his display was positive; the fact that more people were discussing him than Emi Buendia after the game says it all. He was class.

He read the game terrifically, he showed little pieces of magic - the pirouette early on deserved a goal - and put in masses of running.

It's obviously pretty early doors, but if he keeps up this standard who knows, he could even find himself wearing a certain white jersey with some lions on it. Certainly at 21s level at least.

The point I knew Todd was serious about taking to this challenge was when the squad numbers were announced.

It must have taken a heck of a lot of gusto for him to request the magic number 14 shirt.

For an attacking midfielder at Norwich City, the number 14 shirt is inevitably going to mean you will be compared to Wes Hoolahan - in my eyes the club's greatest ever servant.

For Todd to be willing to take that weight on his shoulders is a huge, huge vote of confidence in himself - many, many players will be found wanting when being compared to the great Wessi.

However, it is already looking like the magic Wes brought while wearing that jersey is rubbing off on Dereham's favourite son.

By going out of his way to request the number it shows he sees himself as being ready to take up the mantle of the Australia bound footballing deity.

In the past year, we've all been pleasantly surprised by the rise and rise of Marco Stiepermann.

For years to come I'm starting to believe we'll be equally surprised - but even more delighted - by the rise and rise of Todd Cantwell.

He's already gone on the record of saying he's out to make Wes Hoolahan proud - if he keeps on improving he could even end up making him a bit envious.

It's your time, Todd!

Thanks for your kind words, Twitter

So, some of you may have seen that I came in for a bit of stick over the weekend on Twitter - with words I could not possibly print here.

It came after a Tweet to Gary Lineker in which I suggested he may fancy flagging up a certain chant to his colleague Alan Shearer.

I'm not going to go into the barrage of 'banter' that came my way after it - water off a canary's back and all that.

However, there is one Tweet that I do want to highlight - one that arrived on Monday.

It was from the Newcastle supporters' group 'United with Pride', the equivalent to our very own Proud Canaries.

It read as follows: "Just be assured that this abuse is not representative of all @nufc fans. We are a decent bunch on the whole."

At no point did I indicate that the things that were said to me had impacted me - they didn't - but the person behind the Twitter account still took notice and took the time to get in touch with me.

What a great example of what it is to be a football fan - I really appreciated it.

Thanks for the book, Roger

While I'm dishing thank yous out at Oscar acceptance speech levels, there's another person I owe one to.

Just before the start of the season City fan and record keeping extraordinare Roger Smith made a spontaneous visit to Archant Towers.

He kindly brought with me the latest edition of a book I would be lost without - in particular while writing this column for you all.

Roger has just completed his fifth Canary Companion edition - an encyclopaedic collection of Norwich City facts, figures and statistics.

I've lost count of the amount of times over the years I've dipped into a version of this gold mine and Roger works tirelessly to keep updating it.

So Roger, if you are reading this, I'm incredibly grateful for your work and will no doubt continue to turn for it for inspiration.

Just like the terrific Twitter account @ncfcnumbers has become a must see, I can not recommend this book enough.

For more information on the terrific read, Roger is on canaryrog@hotmail.co.uk

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