All hail the midfield man Norwich City need, to fire them back to the Premier League


- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

This column was pencilled in on Monday, I promise – before it was known Alex Tettey would be wheeled out for Thursday's pre-match press conference ahead of Bournemouth's visit on Saturday.

Still, the fact it was the Norwegian sat in front of us possibly proved the point – that so far, Tettey is looking like the kind of player that can win you promotion from the Championship at the first attempt.

There's probably no hiding the fact that since the 28-year-old arrived in the summer of 2012 and was handed a few appearances in a yellow shirt, I've been a big fan.

He breaks up play, knows when to make a 'good' foul, more often than not – and more often than most – he makes sure his pass finds its intended target, and he chips in with chances and goals. The latter are usually spectacular too.

Sure, there were other players most fans were desperate to keep following Premier League relegation. But for me, Alex was – and remains – a player Norwich simply couldn't afford to let go, if they are to achieve their goal this season.

And of course, that's not always straightforward. You're relying on the player's character in that equation too.

One push on his agent, transfer request or attempt at team-mate disharmony, and there's no point in holding on – whoever the player is and however good.

Most Read

Sitting on Tettey's table during the summer's end of season dinner, he was clearly as dejected as everyone else – but was among those players who made an effort with the fans they were sat next to.

Yes, it hurt. And let's be honest – as Alex has been – he wants to be back playing top-flight football here in England as soon as possible.

But the way he's going about his football since his recall against Watford speaks volumes – both for him, and the impact he has had alongside a hugely impressive Bradley Johnson.

The stats make the point too – although I'll admit, not quite as adamantly as I was expecting.

City's league win percentage with Alex Tettey starting games is 28pc; Without him, it drops to 25pc.

By my reckoning, that's close to an extra six points this season if he stays fit – and I think that's exactly how it could play out too, which is why City need the central midfielder firing for the long haul.

His press conference appearance was, in fact, quite striking – as most of his tend to be.

The Norwegian somehow balanced an arrogance at Norwich City taking on the Championship, with a growing appreciation for the fact surprises can always lie around the next corner.

It's arguably the perfect mix – a knowledge City have the quality to take this division by storm, plus the appreciation that it won't happen by simply turning up.

The evidence on the pitch will of course tell us how the Canaries deal with what's in store this season. But judging by the opening four Championship games, there really is nothing that needs to scare them.

Sure, there will be stumbles and missed opportunities. But long after the dust settles on another East Anglian derby victory, the view will be one of a Canaries side hitting their stride. Although as Alex should know, there will never be the time to stand still and admire it.