Chris Goreham: The story of Tim Krul's incredible season so far
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia are tearing up The Championship once again.
When Norwich City win it feels inevitable that one or the other will have been the match winner.
As a true Canary contrarian I have decided to write about what’s happening at the other end of the pitch instead. It is a stubborn streak that runs right through me. The same character flaw automatically stops me from wanting to join in with anything that becomes too popular.
During lockdown I haven’t taken part in a single Zoom quiz, watched The Masked Singer or baked any banana bread. It’s not great, is it? Look at all the fun I’ve been depriving myself of.
So, yes, Pukki and Buendia are wonderful l but their form should not detract from the real story. The incredible season that Tim Krul is having.
Saturday’s win over Rotherham was the Dutchman’s 22nd appearance of the campaign. He’s conceded 12 goals in total and now has 11 clean sheets. There was also a game at Stoke which Norwich won 3-2 in November but the two goals were conceded after Krul went off injured in the first half. I am not sure whether that officially counts as a 12th clean sheet.
The 12 goals he has let in include a penalty against Preston, the final goal of Wayne Rooney’s career from a superb free-kick and the one Dimitris Giannoulis recently handed to Stoke City’s Nick Powell on a plate.
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That only leaves nine in 22 games that fans can be justifiably disappointed about Krul conceding. It’s quite something when you consider the whole point of football is that teams are meant to try and score against you. Krul has finished up on the losing side just four times this season.
It really is an incredible turnaround. The accepted downside of watching Daniel Farke’s scintillating promotion winners from 2018-19 was that such an open style left them vulnerable to conceding goals.
There were times when some of the City defenders looked as if they were communicating via a dodgy Zoom connection way before the rest of us were forced into doing so. The style hasn’t changed but a fit Grant Hanley, a maturing Max Aarons, a brand-new Ben Gibson and the energetic Oliver Skipp help to explain this more streetwise City. Krul admits that his impressive statistics are not purely down to him.
The Canaries’ goal looked so secure on Saturday that the attention of many of those watching was caught by a new advert in the stands behind.
A well-known local car manufacturer had paid to have their logo and slogan on display. It had been set out in such a way that the words were not clear. It was almost as if they were being used to test the vision of any player who might suffer a clash of heads during the game.
I didn’t mention those ads during commentary. This time it wasn’t stubbornness or a refusal to join-in but you can add the John Lewis Christmas advert to the list of things that brings out that side of me. As a true BBC man I am not sure how to handle commercials.
The site of those large adverts spread out across the bottom tiers of the stands behind either goal was rather poignant. This week marks a year since Carrow Road was last packed full of spectators. The fact that supporters have been replaced by giant adverts was a sad reminder of what the last year has been like. The club can’t be blamed for maximising marketing revenue, the true cost of Covid to the Canaries is not yet fully clear but it is going to be huge.
If Norwich City can keep up their current form it could well be that the return of thousands of supporters to Carrow Road will coincide with a Premier League party. Even this old cynic might have to join-in with the first rendition of ‘On The Ball City’ if that’s the case.
The recent displays produced by Teemu Pukki and Emi Buendia have sparked a lively debate about Norwich City’s best ever partnerships.
These sort of circular and impossible to solve conversations belong in the back room of a boozer just ahead of the bell for last orders. Seeing as that isn’t allowed at the moment it’s all being played out online.
How can anyone argue beyond all doubt across the eras and whether an attacking combination is any more valuable than those at the back? Were Holt and Hoolahan ‘better’ than Stringer and Forbes? There’s no way I’m getting involved in that one. Then you have to decide whether players in different positions count as a ‘partnership’. I grew up enjoying the telepathic link-up play between Ian Crook in midfield and left back Mark Bowen.
It has been a useful reminder that some of the great yellow and green pairings haven’t necessarily been between players. What a double act egg and cress were on that kit that took the club into Europe in the early 1990s. Who could forget Kenny McLean and the Mayor’s hat on the balcony at City Hall two years ago? The last time many fans watched Norwich play it was all about Tim Krul and his water bottle seeing off Tottenham Hotspur in a penalty shoot-out.
Other fans have responded by suggesting Razz The Clown and Auntie Pearl deserve a mention for years of loyal service entertaining Junior Canaries around the ground. It was a job they shared with Captain Canary and Splat the Cat for a long time. There have been honourable mentions for Jonny Howson and the pigeon he rescued at West Ham and even, rather cruelly, Paul Lambert and Ipswich Town.
On a personal note, I must mention Roy Waller and Neil Adams as a terrific partnership. They were the dynamic duo I learnt my commentary trade alongside. It was like being allowed to travel in the Batmobile only with fewer capes and more quizzes.
This debate about Norwich City’s greatest ever partnership is one of the few things that has more mileage than the average Canaries away trip.