Norwich City report card: Alex Tettey is the great survivor
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Tettey has seen it and done it in Norwich City colours. But a title win and a return to the Premier League was something extra special. Paddy Davitt reflects on his long and winding road.
In a game not known for sentimentality these days there was something quite lovely about Alex Tettey being on the pitch when both promotion and the title was sealed for Norwich City.
Tettey was one of the very last bridges between the old and this vibrant exciting vision shaped by Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber at Carrow Road.
Along the way the midfielder will have watched former team mates from former eras depart for pastures new. Whether through financial necessity, personal ambition or simply a sense time had moved on.
Tettey had to wave goodbye to players of the calibre of Jonny Howson, Russell Martin and Wes Hoolahan. Among others. Colleagues who had experienced the highs of Championship promotion and the pain of losing that cherished Premier League status.
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This time last summer there was plenty of speculation whether the 33-year-old himself would follow suit, before penning a fresh deal.
That enabled the former Norwegian international to clock up his 200th appearance for the Canaries in December's battling Blackburn win. Nigel Worthington later presented the midfielder with a framed shirt to mark the achievement.
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It was a nice touch. Plus a reminder of his loyalty and long service.
Injury and the emergence of Kenny McLean and Tom Trybull combined to limit his influence on the pitch in the second part of the campaign. There was a sour night at Preston, when he led the side to what proved the last defeat of a stellar campaign. Preston were simply too sharp, too hungry under Alex Neil at Deepdale.
Neil was a massive fan when the duo worked together at Norwich. He labelled Tettey 'one of a kind' for his unique brand of midfield combat, his ability to screen a back four and willingness to offer vital protection.
But time has moved on, and with Louis Thompson striving to play a leading role next season and Norwich linked with any number of defensive midfield reinforcements in the summer transfer window already, there might be even more obstacles in Tettey's path.
Yet he remains a leader within this changing room.
Respect is hard earned amongst your peers, and Tettey is one of the select few at Farke's disposal familiar with the top flight terrain.
Whether it is his presence around the group or his judicious use out on the park the Norwegian's underlying value remains important.
Nor should this past, decorated season been portrayed as some gentle victory tour.
Tettey made 30 Championship appearances, 26 of those were starts, and during the hard grind of that period leading up to the halfway mark prior to Christmas, he formed an integral pairing with Moritz Leitner that laid the foundations for the glorious push down the home stretch.
City lost only once in the Championship between August 22 and Boxing Day, with Tettey a permanent fixture in Farke's central midfield.
Never afraid to shoot. Less acquainted with the scoresheet.
Some things might not have changed in his seven years but his one and only goal this past season was still a thing of beauty; lashed home from the edge of the area to beat Neil's men in the corresponding league fixture.
Yet injury also intervened again, as it has done periodically through his career in green and yellow when the wear and tear from an all-action style took a toll on his body.
A groin problem at Brentford on New Year's Day was the start of a retreat to the margins. Which is why it felt right to see Tettey enter the field in the closing seconds of the promotion-clinching win over Blackburn at a raucous Carrow Road.
Then a longer shift on the final day at Villa Park, when McLean departed early through injury.
Lifting that trophy proudly aloft in front of the travelling support was a vindication Tettey was right to stay on in Norfolk, when it might have been easier to follow his old pals out of the door.
There might be slimmer rations once again in the Premier League.
Then again, the manner Tettey originally won over a sceptical Farke when the German head coach first arrived in England suggests it might be wise not to consign him to the shadows prematurely.