Chris Goreham: Goalkeeper inspires confidence on and off the pitch for Norwich City
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When a Norwich City museum eventually opens Tim Krul’s water bottle should be one of the star exhibits.
The Canaries goalkeeper has a reputation as a penalty saving specialist and his presence against Tottenham Hotspur last week meant that for the first time in a life spent supporting Norwich City and England I actually felt quite confident that my team would win on penalties.
It's always tempting to describe shoot-outs as a lottery and from a supporter's point of view that's just what it feels like as the players nervously line-up around the centre circle to watch each team-mate in turn take on that lonely walk towards the penalty spot. During the course of a match it's possible for spectators to pick up on what's likely to happen. Billy Sharp's winning goal against the Canaries on Saturday was a prime example. Sheffield United had been dominating for a few moments to such an extent that it was possible to sense the striker's crashing header several minutes before it actually happened. When it comes to penalty shoot-outs there is no such rhythm or momentum to tap into from the stands.
For the players it's different and Tim Krul's performance at Spurs proved that penalties are not random events from which anything can happen. They too can be prepared for and practiced so that each individual kick can be manipulated so that a save or a miss becomes more likely. This is where Krul is the true Dutch Master. It's not so much how he saves penalties as the doubt he places in the taker's mind with his unique interpretation of football's dark arts.
At first glance the Norwich City goalkeeper seemed to be particularly thirsty during the shoot-out but when TV cameras picked up that his bottle had each Spurs player's name written on it we were given a rare glimpse into the sort of shoot-out psychology that goes into winning on penalties.
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The bottle apparently went missing after the game. We can only hope that whoever has it now appreciates they are in possession of an object as precious to Norwich fans as Russell Martin's pants from the promotion celebrations at Portsmouth in 2011 or the tri-corn hat donned by Kenny McLean as he proclaimed himself the Mayor of Norwich while standing on the balcony of City Hall last May.
That performance at Tottenham ought to be enough to guarantee that Tim Krul is named as the club's Player of the Year in a couple of months. It's hard to think of anyone who has been as consistent this season for the club. The fact that the goalkeeper has been the star turn tells a story about the campaign Daniel Farke's team have endured. Krul's been busy with the Canaries struggling at the bottom of the Premier League so he's had plenty of chances to shine.
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He does appear to have upped his game this season to an extent that a recall to the Dutch national squad later this month seems inevitable. Perhaps we have Ralf Fahrmann to thank. When the German, a goalkeeper with Champions League experience, arrived on loan from Schalke in the summer it felt like Krul had genuine competition for his starting place. Fahrmann has ended up playing three times, once each in the Premier League, EFL Cup and FA Cup and all away from Carrow Road. It just so happened that the Spurs game arrived at the exact point he was talking over an opportunity to end his time with Norwich early. Had he have been content to wait he may well have played against Tottenham last week and Krul would never have had his big night.
I did wonder if that was a sign that Norwich City's luck was changing this season. Then we went to Bramall Lane and they were denied an equaliser by that remarkable save from Sheffield United's Dean Henderson. It just goes to show how much power goalkeepers wield.