Chris Lakey: Tim Krul is a master of a goalkeeper’s dark arts
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Tim Krul enhanced his reputation among City fans with a match-winning display at Spurs – Chris Lakey looks at the master of the goalkeeping arts.
You've got to have a bit of attitude when you're a goalkeeper.
There you stand, the last line of defence, the one whose mistakes get singled out for attention. Make one slip and you're all over the back pages.
So you need some concealed weapons, to be a master of the dark arts. The elite members of the Goalkeepers' Union all have it. They stick together come what may.
They live in glorious isolation. Can you blame them for wanting to take every advantage when it comes their way?
Tim Krul is the perfect example. Krul is a Norwich City legend in the making - for some he has attained the status already, particularly as he added another bit of icing on his own particular cake with two penalty saves at Tottenham on Wednesday night to ensure City a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
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The fact he had a water bottle with the names of Tottenham's penalty takers written on the side with their spot-kick preferences simply added to his reputation.
Everyone loves a cheeky chappie, and Krul has plenty of that. It helps that he speaks well, really well, that he is engaging and friendly, has a word for everyone - and that he has written most of the entries for the Goalkeepers' Union handbook.
Lesson one: Know your opponent. That's the water bottle tactic. No doubt Krul and goalkeeping coach Ed Wootten (another who has endeared himself to City fans with his nose to nose spat with Paul Lambert just over a year ago) colluded. As they should. The man with the bottle was Krul, not Gedson Fernandes. The Portuguese needed to score to keep Spurs in it. He hit a weak shot that your granny would have saved. But only if she'd gone the right way. Which is where the homework came in nice and handy. Krul didn't guess right. He knew right.
Lesson two: Use every advantage you can. Don't forget, as a keeper, 12 yards away from the ball and with 192 square feet of target behind you, the advantage is most definitely with the penalty taker. But only if he is of firm mind and mentally well disciplined. So Krul uses every second wisely, making the taker wait while he takes a drink from his bottle, while he walks away from the goal, towards the penalty spot, cranking up the pressure on the taker, who should hold all the cards. Or, crucially on Wednesday, having a chat with a player. Krul up against Troy Parrott was a no-contest. The 31-year-old Dutch international keeper against an 18-year-old who has started just one game.
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Krul had a 'chat': in essence, he told the youngster he'd never studied his previous penalties because he'd never heard of him. Big boy talk. And the big boy won - Parrott went to Krul's left. Krul went to his left.
Krul has previous: remember how he denied Manchester United's Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial earlier this season? He came off his line, no doubt. But if you don't your chances of saving a kick are reduced... and the worst that can happen is a retake.
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer knew exactly what Krul was up to. "He is actually one of the best in the world, Tim Krul, on penalties," said Solskjaer. "He is clever in his mannerisms as well. He should have been booked, probably, because he was straying away from the goal, but they should both have been retaken."
Solskjaer recalled Krul's dramatic introduction during a World Cup finals game in 2014 when Holland boss Louis van Gaal brought the then Newcastle keeper off the bench to replace Jasper Cillessen.
The game against Costa Rica was 0-0, and a shoot-out was seconds away - Van Gaal brought on his specialist. And it worked, as Krul saved two spot-kicks and the Dutch won 4-3.
Even then he was playing mind games, admitting he spoke to every Costa Rica player as he stepped up to take a penalty to "try to get in their heads".
"I don't think I did anything wrong," he said. "I did nothing crazy. I didn't shout in an aggressive manner.
"I told them I knew where they were going because I had analysed it. It worked."
And that is exactly what he did at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Wednesday night.
Football loves a character, and Norwich City loves Tim Krul.