David Freezer: Fitness and form cost Trybull another Championship chance at City
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The exits of three Championship title winners during the final two weeks provided an unnerving end to a hectic transfer window for Norwich City fans, particularly when seeing Tom Trybull join a potential rival.
Ben Godfrey, Timm Klose and Trybull joined Jamal Lewis as members of the popular 2018-19 squad in moving on following relegation from the Premier League, as the memories of that wonderful triumph fade amid the doom and gloom of behind-closed-doors games and an uncertain future for the English game.
Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber set about shaking off the pain of the previous campaign and were able to complete much of their business quickly, to get the bulk of their squad in place for the delayed start of this unprecedented campaign - although they do look to be a defender short after Klose’s exit.
Part of those decisions was to part ways with Trybull, Mo Leitner and Josip Drmic, with a fair bit of surprise that Trybull’s name was among those free to leave and not given a squad number.
This was a player who had served City well, particularly after signing as a free agent in 2017 having impressed on a trial, with Farke aware of the untapped potential of the former Werder Bremen and St Pauli midfielder after injuries had knocked his promising career off course.
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That was typified by a memorable quote after a 3-1 win at Brentford in the League Cup third round, in just his third appearance.
“I don’t want to praise him too much because maybe Chelsea or Manchester United get an idea or whatever,” joked Farke at Griffin Park, as he hailed a “brilliant performance”.
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Trybull had reemerged as a hungry and composed player, showing class on the ball and providing a solid defensive shield in midfield alongside Alex Tettey. Yet the second half of 2017-18 was ruined for the former Germany Under-20 international, with ankle ligament damage cruelly following a 1-0 home Championship win over Middlesbrough in which he had scored the only goal.
That blow saw Trybull struggle to regain momentum and he started just five of the first 27 matches of 2018-19, as Tettey and Leitner formed a well balanced partnership which would help lay the foundations of title success.
His chance eventually came in January and it was alongside Mario Vrancic that he started to impress again, including the defining and memorable 3-1 victory at Leeds which proved so influential, playing like a man possessed at Elland Road.
Then as injury claimed Vrancic and Tettey, it was alongside Kenny McLean where his momentum continued as a club record was equalled with eight consecutive wins in all competitions - although he had to be careful during the promotion and title celebrations as he missed the final two games with another ankle injury.
His return to prominence was capped by a new contract, extending terms until 2022 and with an option for a further year, with Farke describing him as “one of our outstanding players this season”.
When he bossed midfield alongside Leitner in a 3-1 home win over Newcastle in the Premier League, all must have seemed well in Trybull’s world. Two weeks later he suffered another ankle injury in a 2-0 defeat at West Ham and was facing six weeks out.
After a spell back in the team in November and December, when the Canaries kept allowing leads to slip, he was brought on with 15 minutes remaining and City winning 2-1 at home to Tottenham at Carrow Road. He gave away possession cheaply, Spurs broke and won a penalty, from which Harry Kane equalised.
After that day Trybull was restricted to only FA Cup game time, but after the three-month suspension of the season due to Covid-19 he was given another chance and was in Farke’s starting XI as the campaign resumed against Southampton.
He was hooked after an hour of that 3-0 slump and then at half-time of a 4-0 loss at Arsenal, his only other appearance after lockdown, as Norwich imploded and were relegated in disastrous fashion.
It was decided that some of the negativity of that 10-game losing streak had to be brushed off and Trybull’s previous Championship exploits weren’t enough to earn him another chance.
So it’s alongside City old boys Bradley Johnson and Elliott Bennett at Blackburn where the Berliner finds himself hitting the reset button on loan, a club which have enjoyed two solid mid-table campaigns under Tony Mowbray since winning promotion from League One in 2018.
He won’t be able to face his parent club in either match this season but with Rovers making a bright start, he could yet be playing for a play-off rival.
The only thing Farke and City are worried about for now though, is that they are in that promotion mix themselves, starting with a robust Rotherham on Saturday who will scrap for every ball and half chance - with Norfolk’s own Paul Warne knowing just how hard his team need to work to survive in the Championship.
The former Diss and Wroxham forward has taken note of how Preston harried and disrupted Norwich in a 2-2 draw at Carrow Road last month, and will be desperate to upset his boyhood club again, sensing the vulnerability of a team grasping for confidence and upward momentum.