City report card: Canaries’ Mr Dependable proves his worth again
- Credit: PA
Alex Tettey continues to be an important member of Daniel Farke’s first-team squad - in the latest instalment of our report card series, Connor Southwell assesses the popular Norwegian midfielder.
Despite Alex Tettey’s insistence that next season he will be happy to play more of a bit-part role, Norwich City have proven they require his services, regardless of the division.
The ex-Norway international may be targeting next season as the swansong of his career, but that won’t take precedence over Championship success in his eyes.
Tettey has seen it all at Carrow Road; promotion, relegation and mid-table obscurity - but the midfielder will be hoping his final season in Norfolk is draped in celebration rather than apathy.
Inwardly, the 34-year-old may have been planning to wind down his career, but on the pitch he has re-emerged again to prove himself as a pivotal cog in the Canaries machine.
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Without him, there is a vulnerability about the way they defend. But it isn’t necessity that has seen the former Rennes and Rosenberg man constantly re-emerge as a credible and intrinsic first-team option, but the nature of his performances.
A few years ago, former City boss Alex Neil described how Tettey was incapable of playing three games in a week due to concerns over the strength of his knee. When Daniel Farke initially arrived at Carrow Road, he didn’t foresee the experienced battler as being key to his plans.
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Yet, the Canaries’ latest Premier League season, Tettey’s fourth at the club, has seen him play 30 times and finish third in the club’s Player of the Season voting.
Many have attempted to dethrone him as City’s defensive midfielder - all have failed.
Through adversity, hard knocks and after being written off, Tettey has always responded by proving his worth on the pitch.
City’s latest campaign was no different. After Farke realised that the Canaries needed to show an obdurate streak and defensive resolve, Tettey was deployed alongside Kenny McLean as a double pivot to protect their stricken defence.
Physically, it offered the Canaries more muscle in games and the pair were critical in ensuring City remained in games during December - a month that proved fatal for City.
Despite being a scorer of great goals, plenty of what Tettey does can be missed with the naked eye.
Ask any of the Canaries’ first-team squad and they will emphasise his role within the team. He is a hole-filler, a shielder and a protector who ensures City aren’t left drastically exposed when the ball gets turned over.
Like every other player, he does possess flaws. He will rarely be a player capable of a defence-splitting pass - although that was seen in City’s 2-1 defeat to Southampton in December - nor will he carry the ball a great distance to move them up the pitch.
Out of his specific skill-set, he’s extracted everything and even improved under Farke in terms of his use of the ball in possession.
When the time does come for him to depart Norfolk - he will do so as a bona fide legend, mentioned in the same breath alongside some City greats.
In essence, his purpose on the pitch is clear - win the ball and give it to someone who can make something happen, but the intangibles he provides are indispensable.
Tettey does possess the leadership skills that many accuse the Canaries’ current crop of lacking. At Bournemouth’s Dean Court, the midfielder could be heard barking instructions to his colleagues constantly.
It’s never been about finesse or individual recognition - even now the midfielder feels uncomfortable surrounding talk of a potential testimonial, he would prefer to leave quietly in a modest haze.
But City supporters adore him. When the curtain falls on his Canaries career - they will want to be at Carrow Road for the send-off.
Whether it’s a scuffed toe poke against Manchester United or a block against Burton Albion, Tettey has never sought to complain or put his interests above that of the club.
He has one final mission before he rides into the Norwegian sunset - to help the Canaries return to the top flight.
There are personal accolades to be had as well. Tettey’s appearance against Chelsea saw him enter the Canaries’ limited 100 club alongside those who have notched up their century in yellow and green in the Premier League.
Tettey needs nine games to reach 250 for the club - and he needs 15 to overtake Sandy Kennon to hold the record for an overseas player in terms of appearances.
But none of that will matter to Tettey - it will be about how the Canaries perform on the pitch.
Whether he is a regular battling in the midfield or occupying the bench and supplying the drinks - he will give it his all.
City fans now know - don’t write off Alex Tettey.