Jon Punt: Relaxed and focused – how Norwich City star personifies Canaries formula for Championship success
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No panic, no nerves, no anxiety. These boys are just ready for the challenges to come.
That was the overriding feeling when we were fortunate to welcome two of City’s backline onto our podcast last week, over at Along Come Norwich. Part of that duo was Ben Godfrey. In his first full season in the Championship, he cut a composed and unflappable figure.
Godfrey’s body language gave the sense of a man who was relaxed yet focussed. Self assured without a whiff of arrogance. All from a 21-year-old who’s keeping out full internationals from a side sitting top of the tree and are on the cusp of something so special that even the hopelessly optimistic could not have foreseen it.
Among it all there were no signs of trepidation, and the palpable sense that Godfrey has gained the full trust of his manager and forged a strong bond with his defensive colleagues. The man is there on merit, and it would take a massive nosedive in form for his place in this team to be under serious jeopardy.
All from a lad who might have expected his season to be an uphill struggle in trying to usurp Alex Tettey from his defensive midfield role. Now he’s a ball playing yet combative central defender with the world at his feet, being linked to Manchester United and getting recognised with England youth honours.
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For someone in his formative years as a professional, full credit must go not only to Farke for overseeing his development, but the club as whole for equipping these youngsters with the resilience which will be required in the next few weeks.
Tim Krul, the other featured guest, gave signs of a protective shield, not just of Godfrey, but he was keen to stress he was playing the father figure to the other young guns in the dressing room.
MORE: ‘Mind the gap’ - Maddison trolls Leicester City team-mateStuart Webber has recently gone on record to state Krul was perhaps the club’s most astute summer signing.
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Some poured scorn on that suggestion, surmising this was a public show of faith following some nerve jangling moments at the back, which had recently culminated in Hull dragging themselves back into a match they had no right to.
Yet Krul’s demeanour, and the clear respect he commands from his team mates, might just be the real reason why the Dutchman is proving to be an excellent piece of business.
Too many times during 2017/18, a real lack of leadership was cited as a cause for City’s stuttering form. That was coupled with a defensive fragility, underpinned by lapses in concentration and individual errors, which too often left the Canaries with insurmountable hills to climb.
To then completely revamp the defence over the next few months was bold, and yet it has paid dividends.
While City may not be watertight at the back, the individuals asked to play Farke’s brand of football are dealing in high risk scenarios, which in turn has yielded sizeable rewards - the goals for column has never looked so healthy.
The emergence of Max Aarons and Godfrey has helped, yet their integration into the side might not have been so seamless had they not enjoyed the benefit of such an experienced and vocal stopper behind them. Krul really might be the key man and one of the leaders we required after all.
This weekend’s win will have furthered the unshakeable belief the pair exuded when we spoke. A fine rearguard display, which largely restricted Boro to half chances and long range efforts until the closing moments of the match, will have done wonders for the confidence.
Over the last few weeks City have conjured up victories of many different varieties, ranging from the ugly to the beautiful. The stuff of champions perhaps.
Yet it’s clear that at least Krul and Godfrey won’t be getting carried away with it all.
They’re far too professional for that. No complacency to see here, just a steely assuredness that will see these boys over the line and to the Premier League.