Could vital revival of Alex Tettey’s career at Norwich City end up earning the popular midfielder a contract extension?
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Much acclaim has been sent in the direction of Timm Klose during Norwich City’s defensive revival since the international break but Alex Tettey should also take a great deal of credit.
The 31-year-old’s return to the starting line-up, in tandem with the increasingly impressive Tom Trybull in defensive midfield, has coincided with Daniel Farke’s developing team keeping three successive clean sheets.
Yesterday’s hard-fought 1-0 win at Sheffield United made it three shut-outs in a row, the first time a Canaries team has managed that in almost five years, stretching back to Chris Hughton’s side beating Stoke and Manchester United 1-0 at home, either side of a 0-0 draw at Reading, in the Premier League in November 2012.
Klose and Trybull have been excellent but Tettey is a popular player among the City support who appears to have breathed fresh life into a career that had looked to be slowing down.
With the arrival of Farke and a shift towards a possession-based style, many expected that would marginalise the former Norway international’s influence and he played a bit-part in pre-season, playing 241 minutes, less than three whole matches.
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Former City boss Alex Neil had often told fans that the tough-tackling midfielder was a valued commodity but that knee problems meant he struggled to play two games in quick succession.
That prompted the Ghana-born battler to retire from international football with Norway, his adopted nation having moved to Scandinavia with his family as a child, in March after 34 international caps and three goals.
As he is in the final year of his contract, the man who played Champions League and Europa League football with Rosenborg and Rennes before joining Norwich in 2012, looked to be entering the latter stages of his career.
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However, Tettey has proved there is plenty of life left in his legs yet, starting three games in a week and showing that he can still be an integral player for City in the Championship.
An excellent display in the 4-1 win over Charlton in the Carabao Cup second round had many fans calling for him to start in the following league game at Millwall but Farke only introduced him in the 75th minute, with the Canaries already 4-0 down at The Den.
That was the first time a Norwich team had conceded four goals in successive games in the second tier in over 18 years – making for a miserable two-week break for international games.
During that fortnight Tettey revealed to Norwegian broadcaster NRK that he was “not happy” at his lack of game-time but that City had told him he would not be allowed to leave before the transfer deadline, with Neil reportedly keen on a reunion at Preston.
He stayed though and all of a sudden the man who scored that famous toe-poked winner for the Canaries at Old Trafford in December 2015 and a Premier League goal-of-the-season contender against Sunderland in March 2014 is back in the thick of it.
His experience, unselfish team play and tenacious style have helped Farke find steady ground after admitting himself that the early part of his reign had been a “roller-coaster” ride for the club – picking up seven points from a possible nine.
Tettey passed the landmark of 150 games for City late last season to move into the club’s all-time top 100. His appearance at Bramall Lane took him to 156 and level with Trevor Howard in 94th, passing Bradley Johnson’s tally in the process.
It leaves the likeable midfielder in sight of big names such as Robert Rosario and Kevin Bond (tied in 91st on 161), Grant Holt (88th on 168) and he could potentially mix it with the likes of Steve Bruce (81st on 180) if he remains a regular this season.
His style may not be pretty to watch but his charming personality and vast experience mean that Tettey could well find himself in contract talks before January if he can continue his personal revival in the coming months.
He picked up the 51st booking of his time in England during the win at Bramall Lane so his inevitable suspensions will arrive and Southampton loanee Harrison Reed is sure to still have a part to play in this campaign.
There may not be much in the way of resale value in keeping Tettey but he only turns 32 in April, not 35, so perhaps that valuable influence could just be worth more than a transfer fee.
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