‘Do I have any regrets? No.’ - Ruddy opens up on City spell as he prepares for Canaries reunion
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John Ruddy knows all too well the feeling of Premier League insecurity at Norwich City.
The 33-year-old suffered two relegations during his seven-year association at Carrow Road but is helping to plot the Canaries' downfall with Wolverhampton Wanderers ahead of tomorrow's Premier League encounter.
Ruddy has been forced to settle with being the number two option at Molineux following the form of Portuguese shot-stopper Rui Patricio since promotion to the Premier League.
The Portugal international is likely to be occupying the goalposts tomorrow, but for Ruddy, this fixture evokes special memories against a club who he still holds close to his heart.
"The first season was weird in the Championship having left on such good terms with the fanbase, Stuart (Webber) and the club in general. Now, it's great to come up against them in the Premier League," Ruddy said. "Obviously, they aren't doing as well as anyone would like, and I don't think it's been a disappointing season because they've played well, certainly recently but they just haven't had the rub of the green.
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"For me, having spent the majority of my time at Norwich in the Premier League, it's somewhere they're aspiring to get to (on a consistent basis) and they're ahead of schedule in terms of the five-year plan Stuart put together when he first joined.
"I think they're three years ahead of that so the main aim now is to fight until the end to get the points they need and it'll be a very difficult task but the way they're playing and quality they have in their squad, they are more than capable of doing it."
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The goalkeeper was one of seven high-profile players released upon sporting director Webber's arrival, with Ryan Bennett also released and joining Wolves.
Bennett got a loan move to high-flying Leicester City in January, but Ruddy has been forced to serve as an understudy for Nuno Espirito Santo's men.
Since his City departure, Ruddy claims he has become more knowledgeable on the business side of the game and believes his exit was more to do with the Canaries heading down a different path rather than finances.
"In terms of my release, I think that was already set out before Stuart arrived. I think there was a plan in place and a route that they wanted to take, and I think Angus (Gunn) had been lined up long before I was told I was getting released," he continued.
"In terms of the players who were released at the same time as me, it was an easy decision because the wage budget was taken into account but let's not pretend I was released because of a financial decision, I was released because they wanted to go a different way."
Ruddy made way and City swooped to sign Gunn on loan from Manchester City for Daniel Farke's first season in charge.
Gunn hadn't played a senior game of football prior to his City move and Ruddy earmarks Webber's arrival as the beginning of the radical departure from the culture established by Alex Neil.
"They saw Angus as that different way and when I did leave, there were still players at the club earning more than I was at the time I got released," Ruddy adds. "It's football. If I've learned anything in the last four years since leaving Norwich, it's how much of a business football is both from a player's and a club's point of view.
"You've got to look after yourself and your family and Norwich look after themselves and do what they can. If they can get a goalkeeper like Angus on loan without paying a penny for his wages, why wouldn't they?
"Is there a tinge of regret? No. The good times we had at the club far outweigh anything that I could regret. I only have good memories of Norwich as a football club, my family still live there and I still call it home."
Ruddy has faced City previously during Wolves' Championship title-winning campaign in 2018.
The differences in approach between Wolves and Norwich following promotion are stark and Ruddy is hoping City don't panic should they suffer relegation.
"We were able to invest money into the playing squad and bring in a type of player that probably wasn't available to all clubs, especially in the Championship. I think we had an advantage in that sense," Ruddy admits.
"With Norwich, you've obviously seen it with the young players that they've developed and are bringing into the first team now who will then go onto finance the club for the next few years. They've done that with Madders, with the Murphy twins and now with Todd, Ben Godfrey and Max Aarons, players of that ilk who they'll look to be the next wave of players to make money from."