Fresh start has reinforced City's keeper's 'massive belief'

Norwich City goalkeeper Tim Krul and team mate Max Aarons during the Premier League match at the Bre

Norwich City midfielder Kenny McLean shares his relief with keeper Tim Krul towards the end of last month's win at Brentford - Credit: Daniel Hambury/Focus Images Ltd

The Premier League experience of Dean Smith and Craig Shakespeare has Norwich City number one Tim Krul relishing an ‘exciting’ December challenge. 

The new Canaries head coach and his assistant, Shakespeare, have enjoyed an unbeaten start of fluctuating performances during their first three games. 

An excellent second half earned a 2-1 home win over Southampton, an impressive Carrow Road display on Saturday left City disappointed to draw 0-0 and a disjointed display against 10 men brought a frustrating 1-1 draw at Newcastle on Tuesday night. 

Going three unbeaten and coming from behind to earn points weren’t achieved in the top flight during Daniel Farke’s reign but now a thorough test of a promising start to the new era is imminent. 

Sunday’s trip to Tottenham is followed by home games against Manchester United and Smith’s old club Aston Villa.  

Trips to West Ham and Crystal Palace are either side of a Carrow Clash with Arsenal on Boxing Day and a match at Leicester on New Year’s Day follows ahead of a break for the FA Cup. 

"He's got a lot of experience in English football,” Krul said of his new boss. “Craig Shakespeare as well, massive experience, and they're giving you that belief. 

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"They've been there and done it. He (Smith) kept Aston Villa up, Shakey won the Premier League (with Leicester) so there's a lot of experience there. 

"We're all buying in to the new beliefs and obviously it helps when you're winning. You can see players coming out of their shell a bit and we've got an exciting December coming up." 

Krul had planted his flag in the turf before the change of head coach was made last month though, saying earlier in the season that he believed the squad was better than during 2019-20. 

He also said after the 2-0 defeat at Everton in September that he was still confident that City would show their true colours, despite that being a sixth successive defeat since promotion. 

The eight games that followed that Goodison Park defeat have featured four draws, two wins and two defeats, keeping three clean sheets and scoring six goals – although with the 7-0 capitulation at Chelsea also in that mix. 

The upturn has created fresh survival hope, with Norwich now on 10 points and just three adrift of safety. 

"I said a couple of months ago to judge us in January when we've played everyone,” Krul continued. “I've got a massive belief in this squad but obviously we have to show it. 

"The last four games we have really shown commitment, some good quality, it was just that final bit that was lacking." 

Smith and Shakespeare have the Canaries players pressing higher up the pitch and Saturday’s draw with Wolves was particularly notable for how hard their new players worked. 

Those exertions may have played a part in the disappointing effort at Newcastle three days later, when the hosts having a player sent off in the ninth minute wasn't capitalised upon. 

"You forget about the quick turnaround but that's this league, you have to be ready,” Krul reflected. 

"Looking back, you're disappointed at the end of the day. We needed to show a bit more. 

"Josh (Sargent) had a massive chance in the first half and I feel like if we went 1-0 up then we would have won, then obviously their confidence went up. 

"We gave them a massive leg up (conceding a penalty) with going 1-0 up - but again, four games unbeaten and we need to hold on to that.” 

Tim Krul of Norwich celebrates after he saves a penalty from Gedson Fernandes of Tottenham Hotspur t

Tim Krul celebrates Norwich City's shootout success at Tottenham in the FA Cup in March 2020 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

On Sunday the Dutchman returns to the scene of his penalty shootout heroics from March 2020, when two saves helped to earn City an FA Cup quarter-final prior to the first Covid-19 lockdown. 

"Beautiful stadium, another massive game to look forward to and we've had some good results there before, so we don't go there with fear, we go to show what we're capable of,” he continued. 

"We've got a great group spirit at the moment, a new bit of fresh air in the squad, the club and on the pitch." 

Tim Krul of Norwich celebrates victory at the end of the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwic

Canaries number one Tim Krul celebrates last month's win over Southampton - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Krul also has a personal target, with a 50th Premier League clean sheet in his sights. 

That wait is debatable however after Saturday’s shut-out of Wolves, as official Premier League records don’t include his Newcastle debut in 2010 as a clean sheet. 

That’s despite Krul coming on as an injury replacement in the 35th minute of a 1-0 win at Everton as a 22-year-old, with a full 90 minutes seemingly required for an ‘official’ clean sheet. 

"It wasn't five minutes either, it was 70 minutes,” he added with a laugh. “A bit ruthless at the Premier League - but I just need to keep a clean sheet on Sunday to make it 50." 

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