City report card: Tim Krul. From tears to gratitude
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Tim Krul’s player-of-the-year award in a season that ended in relegation tells you everything about his importance. Paddy Davitt begins a City report card series looking back at his season, and predicting what the future holds for the keeper at Carrow Road.
Given the searing focus on Norwich City’s transfer failures to try and avoid relegation from the Premier League there can be no dispute Tim Krul is the best piece of business of the Stuart Webber era.
He might not have plundered the Championship goals of Teemu Pukki, or cut a dash through the same division like Emi Buendia. Or emerged from the club’s own academy system, like Max Aarons, but Krul’s signing has proved an unqualified success.
So much so in a team who slipped embarrassingly back to the Football League, collecting any number of unwanted negative records on the way, the Dutchman was crowned player-of-the-year.
Consider his own personal Norwich journey. From crying tears of gratitude when City salvaged a career that appeared to be heading south, after injury robbed him of his rightful place as Newcastle’s number one.
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Through those shaky early outings in green and yellow, when many questioned the wisdom of such a decision, before he emerged as a mainstay of the Championship title win.
From leadership inside a dressing room where few could draw on sustained Premier League experience.
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From his almost paternal role in the development of Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis or Ben Godfrey in a back-line that was the backbone of that thrilling title win.
From at times a solitary stand in the Premier League and doing more than any other individual in Daniel Farke’s ranks to try and bridge the divide.
The penalty stop heroics, the superbly athletic saves, the bullish sound bites and the willingness to front up and speak honestly when things too often unravelled.
Krul is so much more than the sum of his parts and to have all that packaged in a free transfer should be Webber’s fall back position when his patchy recruitment over the past two windows is scrutinised.
Of course there was the odd rick. We can all remember the calamity at Arsenal, and the ease with which Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang dispossessed him to roll the ball into an empty net.
But as Farke correctly asserted afterwards: “I don’t blame Tim at all. He has played an outstanding season. A real leader in our group, probably our most consistent player. But even he is allowed to make a mistake. We are all human.”
Beyond the collective responsibility, apportion blame more readily in other areas. Krul is not the reason City return to the Championship. He was one of the reasons they escaped in the first place.
In what increasingly feels like a summer of upheaval in regard to the playing roster he must be one of the soothing constants.
That is why those quotes attributed to him in the Dutch media last week provide reassurance. Krul will not seek a move. He feels a debt to a club who rescued his career.
Given football’s lockdown robbed him of a shot at becoming Holland’s number one again for the delayed European Championships that is a big statement.
Krul has spoken often of the unfinished business he has with his national side.
The long descent started with a knee ligament injury suffered on duty for the Dutch in qualifiers for the 2015 version of that tournament.
Given his current national boss, Ronald Koeman, made a personal check on Krul in the Carrow Road home league game against Liverpool, ahead of what was expected to be an international recall, that is the only grounds for concern.
City do not want to lose him any more than the player himself suggests he is not looking beyond the horizon.
His influence beyond a young dressing room towards the wider Norwich fan base is huge.
Krul acknowledged from rocky beginnings he feels a strong connection with those supporters when he accepted their votes as the overwhelming winner of the player-of-the-year accolade.
City will again need to source an alternative, in the same manner Ralf Fahrmann arrived to provide competition last summer.
Krul responded in kind, but surely the Dutchman would accept with Michael McGovern a reliable third choice and a seam of younger talent seeking loan opportunities in the upcoming campaign that is an area of the squad that must be addressed.
But there can be no one who seriously doubts, or for that matter hopes, Krul is not a reassuring presence when the Championship season begins on the weekend of September 12.
From those who harboured deep misgivings when he first arrived he is now indispensable in this current Carrow Road set-up.
Arguably one of only maybe two or three players who embellished their own reputations in such hostile Premier League terrain.