Paddy Davitt: Tim Krul is no longer in a dark place at Norwich City
PUBLISHED: 12:05 17 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:50 17 October 2018
Consider this snippet from an early Stuart Webber interview upon his arrival at Carrow Road.
“If we get recruitment right, to be honest, most things then look after themselves. It is the most important area. A head coach is as good as his players.”
Given the healthy state of Norwich City’s Championship season right now you would have to say Webber, his recruitment department and Daniel Farke are on the right path.
Progress set against a financial backdrop which necessitated the departure of some valuable gems and the promotion of youth; trends which have only accelerated since those Webber soundbites.
Much of the focus is inevitably centred on Teemu Pukki’s prolific impact, since his free transfer switch from Denmark.
Pukki continued his goalscoring spree over this current international break with a winner in Finland’s Uefa Nations League victory against Estonia - his third consecutive match winning display for his country. Albeit there was also an injury scare, when he limped off with what his national boss reportedly claimed afterwards was cramp early in Monday’s 2-0 home win over Greece, following his heavy workload for club and country.
Less, however, is perhaps being said about Tim Krul’s growing importance to Norwich.
Another free transfer summer signing, one arguably with a higher pedigree than Pukki who thus far did not have it all his own way in Norfolk.
Krul, to be frank, looked a pale imitation of the keeper who had rightly carved out a reputation as one of the best in the Premier League after he established himself at Newcastle.
A cruciate knee ligament injury suffered on international duty for Holland three years ago this week was the start of a downward spiral in his career. The 30-year-old would never don the black and white again in a competitive game. It took 16 months before he appeared on the pitch, during a fitful loan spell at AZ Alkmaar.
That came after an aborted previous attempt to return with Ajax.
Take a step back and try to imagine the mental as well the physical scars that experience leaves on a player.
From a career which looked to be on the up to one not knowing if you would ever get back and it provides ample context to frame those inconsistent early Norwich displays.
Krul made some costly errors against the likes of West Brom and Leeds United. But since Leeds stuck three goals past the Dutchman, Krul has conceded only four in the next seven Championship tussles, one of those from his own player, courtesy of Timm Klose’s unfortunate sliding touch that halted the unbeaten run against Stoke prior to the break.
Krul may have been able to rely on a more cohesive, more settled side in front of him to offer greater protection, but the 30-year-old has also been invaluable at key moments.
Two saves against Reading and Derby on the road stand out in particular, when he produced athletic interventions that even for a relatively experienced operator must bolster the self-belief his body will allow him to do what he once took for granted.
Daniel Farke has spoken about his growing influence off the pitch and his leadership qualities inside the dressing room.
Not to mention that cheer-leading act in the frenetic final stages of a stirring 1-0 home win over Middlesbrough when he turned to face the River End and exhorted his own fans to play their part.
When news of the keeper’s arrival was confirmed back in July, after a frustrating spell as back up at top flight Brighton, the majority of those same City supporters felt Krul had all the attributes to stand a fighting chance of stepping into the large shadow vacated by Angus Gunn.
Perhaps that is why those initial, faltering outings threatened to polarise opinions far too quickly around Krul.
Pukki may deservedly be grabbing the limelight, but the man at the other end of the pitch could prove to be just as an astute piece of recruitment on Webber’s watch.