Spud Thornhill: A Christmas toast to birthday boy Emi

Emi Buendia

A master at work - Emi Buendia celebrates after scoring against Cardiff - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Yesterday I raised a glass to celebrate the birth of the person who has brought so much joy and happiness, not just to me but to many happy people in Norfolk - a man I am sure will play his part and be the saviour yet again.  

That saviour is football heaven and known as Emi Buendia. 

Emi celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday and I am sure back in 1996 a star was shining down on him and, maybe, there were three wise men in Argentina saying a star is born.  

Last Saturday, I wasn’t one of the 2,000 lucky enough to watch in person another class performance in the 2-0 win over Cardiff.  Instead, I watched it on TV, with the commentators raving about his display and giving him his second successive man of the match award following the one just three days earlier at Reading. More and more people are taking note of this man and seeing what us Norwich fans have known for the last two years.  

Yes, I will admit I was shouting at the TV at times, saying ‘calm down. Emi, don’t get drawn into trouble’ as the Bluebirds players were trying hard to stop him in any way they can. But as we all know, it’s part of his game and if we lose that aggression and his will to win, we lose a very important part of his game.  

Emi Buendia

There's a lot of love for Emi Buendia - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

With the transfer window opening less than a week away, the normal transfer talk is starting to build. And talks regarding Emi are no different. My Arsenal-supporting work friend, who also has a healthy interest in all things yellow and green and is a fan of Emi, appears to be interested in the rumours linking him with Arsenal.  

I have said with Emi contracted to us until 2024 it would need silly money for him to leave. With Ben Godfrey going for £25million and being a defender, I honestly think it would be absolutely crazy for anyone to try and prise Emi away from us for anything less than £40m, minimum. And, no, I have not had too many sherries this Christmas.  

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We are not desperate for the money, not like we may have been in the past, so we don’t need to panic to sell him. With Stuart Webber as sporting director, no club will bully us - unlike some clubs may have done in years gone by. 

A lot of praise must go to the board and Stuart Webber for securing a player like Emi on such a long deal back in the summer of 2019. The board believed in Webber when he wanted to give Emi a new contract, which is nothing short of fantastic. Yes, Emi did have a superb first season back in 2018-19, but giving him a five-year contract was brave. Just another reason why we are so lucky to have these people running our club.  

At the same time, a lot of credit also goes to Daniel Farke for the way he managed Emi in September after his omission from the Bournemouth game. The way Farke dealt with the situation with both Emi and Todd Cantwell is a credit to his management.  

With two exceptional players, playing outside the Premier League, I can think of a few managers over the years at Norwich who wouldn’t have managed the situation as well as Farke. If we hadn’t have managed it well we may have had a player revolt, problems in the camp and possibly ended up selling two exceptional players. 

Since that Bournemouth game, both Emi and Todd have been a credit to their game with their professionalism, which I honestly believe has played a part in our success this season.  

With Webber already saying on record that there are plans for replacing individuals, I am sure he and Farke have their plans when the situation arises with Emi. Which I know for sure they came up trumps with when they replaced Wes Hoolahan with Emi. 

I think there must be plenty of clubs in the Championship who will look at us with envy, none more so than Saturday night’s opponents, Watford, with their owners and constant management changes.  

This is why, despite us not being able to be at the games due to government guidelines moving Norfolk to tier four on Wednesday, we are going to be okay.  

We might not have had a great 2020, but I’m confident the club and players like Emi will help us get us through these tough times.  

Merry Christmas  

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