Norwich City Report Card: Show Russell Martin some love
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
A new season normally equals a new start. Russell Martin appears the exception to the rule at Norwich City. Paddy Davitt assesses the available options for the defender, in the latest of our City report card series.
It is difficult to pinpoint just when a sizeable contingent of Norwich City fans fell out of love with Russell Martin.
Possibly that ignominious second half exit at Millwall last season; where the murmur of disapproval from a large enough proportion of the away end proved audible enough to reach Martin's ears as he trooped off in the midst of a 4-0 Championship humbling.
For others, it was when the dependable, mobile right back of that glorious ascent through the Football League under Paul Lambert became a less reliable centre back.
Albeit it is worth putting forward, by way of mitigation, City's surge under Alex Neil to Wembley play-off glory was forged on a pairing of Martin and Seb Bassong at the heart of the Canaries' defence.
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Plus the 29 caps for Scotland earned predominantly in that same central station.
Martin always sought to downplay the significance of a positional switch later in his career but it has undeniably been used as a stick by many since.
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Millwall may yet prove to be Martin's swansong in Norwich colours.
That would be a sad footballing epitaph for a player who has given every last drop since arriving from Peterborough in 2009, initially on loan.
You can draw a pertinent parallel here with Wes Hoolahan.
Martin shared every uplifting moment and every epic low, every promotion and relegation alongside the impish midfielder. Yet one was feted for his longevity and special place in the affections of City's support in an emotionally-charged and perfectly formed send off against Leeds.
The other ended his season suffering on loan at a Rangers outfit who are light years away from challenging their Old Firm rivals.
Two heavy league and cup defeats proved enough to subject Martin to more hostility from those who lurk anonymously on social media.
If you deal simply in facts then the 32-year-old will return to his parent club ahead of the final year of his current Carrow Road contract. But the reality is Martin's face did not fit under Daniel Farke.
Grant Hanley was recruited to add vital ballast. Christoph Zimmermann, Marcel Franke and Sean Raggett were all fellow arrivals, while Timm Klose remains on the payroll and seemingly determined to play his part next time around.
That leaves precious little room for manoeuvre.
Martin will want to play games but his opportunity to do so at the club he has served with such distinction appear limited.
Had Graeme Murty survived in Glasgow, then Martin in all probability would have completed a permanent move during this close season.
If that avenue is now closed, given the high profile arrival of Steven Gerrard in those parts, then the defender faces an uncertain short term future.
The Scottish international has made no secret of his coaching ambitions but, much like Hoolahan, you suspect the urge to continue playing for as long as possible burns brighter at this stage of his career.
To do that next season another loan route looks probable, if a more lasting solution is not possible over these coming weeks.
But whatever happens, Martin deserves respect and thanks and praise in the same measure lavished on the mercurial Irishman, who he followed every step of the way on the journey from League One.
The picture perfect ending may elude the man who lifted that play-off trophy aloft in front of a sea of 40,000 Norwich fans, but no-one should forget the key part he has played in a ride that may not always have hurtled in the right direction, but was no less thrilling all the same.