Chris Lakey: Tim Krul’s right for the job... ask Stuart Webber
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Stuart Webber clearly shoots from the hip.
No messing, no fudging the issue. What he wants to say, well, he says.
Which can be somewhat disarming, but makes a pleasant change from some of the pre-programmed suits that inhabit the game of football.
Also, it is hard to argue with Webber at the moment. Norwich City’s sporting director has got it right so often that few are in a position to look him in the eyes and say, ‘sorry, Stuart, you’re wrong’.
I know this because even without watching his performance at the Canaries Trust AGM on Thursday night, he beat me in an argument: and I didn’t even have time to chip in my ten penneth worth.
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At the centre of the argument that never happened was Tim Krul.
Sitting at home watching City against Hill on Wednesday might, I ranted and raved when Krul’s error with the ball at his feet led to a Hull goal. It was unnecessary - not the ranting, the error.
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I had been impressed when Krul signed, but I had gradually grown tired of the odd mistake here and there, believing, as an ex-keeper with four games’ experience between the sticks for Wisbech Grammar School, that I was more than qualified to nit pick over the good and bad bits of an international ‘colleague’.
Thing is, I love Peter Schmeichel. And when you set your standards that high, it’s easy to find fault. Even when it’s perhaps not there.
Anyway, back to City v Hull. The second Hull goal wasn’t Krul’s fault in any way, but come the final whistle I somehow pinned some of the fault for the very slightly nervous feeling along fans, at his feet. Quite literally, at his feet.
Then Webber stuck his own size 10s in – and I was about to wilt.
Webber had spoken on a number of subjects to the good people of the Canaries Trust, including player recruitment, potential Premier League prospects and the atmosphere at Carrow Road this season. It was when the Krul subject came up that Webber had his opportunity to get something off his chest, having clearly been annoyed by some of the moans and groans which greeted the Dutchman on Wednesday.
Webber said: “Teemu Pukki will get a lot of the headlines and quite rightly, he’s been outstanding. Emi Buendia is a joke, that flick (against Hull) is one of the best things I’ve ever seen live – and I’ve been lucky enough to see Barcelona and Real Madrid live.
“But to be honest, in my opinion, our best signing was Tim Krul because after Angus Gunn, the next person to fill that shirt was going to find it unbelievably difficult. His dad’s a legend, he was brilliant for us, we all know what that names means to this football club, so the person coming into that shirt was going to find it unbelievably difficult.
“We wanted it to be Remi (Matthews) and Remi didn’t perform in pre-season. I genuinely believe the shirt weighed too heavily for him – a local lad who was desperate to do well.
“He couldn’t follow Angus Gunn, probably two or three years down the line, he could, but at that stage it was important for us not to gamble on that.
“So we were looking for a goalkeeper and I spoke to Grant (Hanley) and he said ‘have you spoken to Tim Krul?’ uh, yeah we have, ‘sign him!’ and he said he was exactly what we needed in terms of the dressing room. And if you look at Tim over the season, yeah he’s made some mistakes, absolutely, and he’ll be the first to admit it, but how he’s helped in our dressing room in terms of being a leader and culture, he is the guy that leads the culture in that dressing room, among others.”
And there you have it: the culture of the dressing room. The foundation of this fantastic season.
It is not what Krul occasionally does with his feet, it is what he does to make this Norwich City team exactly that, a team that thrills and wins in such stunning style.
You see, I was a victim of the knee jerk reaction which, by its nature, is usually just poorly informed. I didn’t think.
Nor did some others... jokingly, Webber said: “I could have punched about 1,500 people in the face! Because in the second half, he’s just made a mistake at the end of the first half – and by the way, everyone forgets the 10 kicks outs where he got us over their press – but let’s not talk about that, let’s talk about the mistake!”
And that’s what we do. Mainly because we are, like our football, all about instant reaction.
And quite possibly because we are not Stuart Webber.