Green: Grant can turn it around for City
CHRIS LAKEY Goalkeeper Robert Green makes his first return to Carrow Road as a player this week - and will get a close-up view of the man who is ready to wear his crown.
Goalkeeper Robert Green makes his first return to Carrow Road as a player this week - and will get a close-up view of the man who is ready to wear his crown.
David Marshall is the man that manager Peter Grant believes can do what so many others tried and failed to do last season - become Green's successor as Norwich City's number one keeper.
Green spent four seasons as City's undisputed number one, but his departure for West Ham almost a year ago signalled a turn of events that surprised even him, as keepers came and went with alarming frequency.
“I hardly missed a league game for four years ago up to almost the end of my last full season and the changes weren't something I expected,” said Green, ahead of tomorrow night's friendly.
“No disrespect to the lads who played in goal, but it is one of those key areas where a manager wants someone he can say 'that's my keeper'.
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“It just happened at the same time as a change of manager and everything seemed to conspire against the keepers - but it's amazing that so many were used.”
Marshall is one of many new faces since Green moved on.
“The only time I have been back was for the derby match,” he said. “There were maybe six players in the squad who I played with in the first team - and there's even less now.
“The turnover of players in one season is frightening. It's going to be very familiar surroundings on Tuesday, but I will be playing against an unfamiliar team.”
Green watched as City's season tailed off after a promising start, but insists the good times will return.
“A lot of teams come out of the Premiership and don't go straight back up,” he said. “But things go round in circles and I am sure Peter Grant will turn it around once they have a settled side.
“I played with him at Norwich and I was at West Ham for probably a month before he left for Norwich. He was good, I liked him as a player, I liked him as a person.
“He is one of those people who says what he thinks, puts his cards on the table and that's what you want in a manager, you want to know what he is thinking.”
Green is starting a season away from Norwich for the first time in his career and says his return will bring back some happy memories.
“I had a fantastic time there, it is a major part of my life, the whole place, not just the football,” he said. “From the age of 16 I grew up there, I went from a kid to a bloke to a man.
“It's was a fantastic place to live in and it will be strange to go back to the ground playing for a different team _ I hope I don't go into the wrong dressing room or something like that.
“It will be nice to go back - a quiet night, just standing around and admiring the scenery and then back home again - that would be perfect, but it's not going to happen I'm sure.”
Much has happened to Green since his last appearance for City, back in April last year: the terrible injury which ended his World Cup dream; the £2m move to West Ham and that sensational end to the season when the Hammers pulled themselves out of the relegation mire at the very death - a feat many pundits say was as much down to Green's heroics between the sticks as the much-publicised goals and performances of one Carlos Tevez..
“It's been a rollercoaster of a ride since getting here - interesting times, as they say,” Green said.
“My personal roller-coaster started before last season did - signing for West Ham was brilliant after I got the injury, getting in the team, then the struggles that we had and the problems we had - the stuff off the pitch seemed to go on and on.
“There were more downs than ups probably, but the end of the season was just amazing, although it wasn't that surprising for ourselves because we knew if West Ham turned up on the day we were a match for any team in the league, and so it proved.”
Green's heroics, particularly in the stunning 1-0 win at Arsenal in April, were one of the highlights of the Hammers' troubled season, although the 27-year-old typically played his part in the change of fortunes.
“It was one of those things - the Arsenal game was just a freak occurrence where you get something like 35 shots on goal, they hit the bar and post three, four times or something,” he said. “You go into each game and try and save each shot - some you can save some you can't. In all those games the important thing we said all along was that we scored first - when we did that it gave us something to cling on to.”