A salute to possibly the most underrated Norwich City player

Kenny McLean has been handed his first Canaries start Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Kenny McLean has been handed his first Canaries start Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

When Emi Buendia plucked the ball out of the sky with a sumptuous volley to claim all three points against Barnsley, it was clear that once again the Argentine was going to hog the headlines.

So much has already been said about City's prized asset and rightfully so, he is beyond special and simply put, one of the finest talents to ever pull on a Norwich City jersey.

The technique it took not only to perfectly time the volley but to guide it into the back of the net was truly something astonishing - everything about it was down to natural talent, technical ability and impeccable timing.

With Emi also clearly being man of the moment the fact it was him on the end of the ball, for me, has slightly overshadowed the other aspect of it - the assist of the season so far from Kenny McLean.

As a Norwich City fan, you do sometimes get tired of saying "if person X had done that, the whole world would be talking about it" - usually person X is somebody like Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or somebody equally high profile.

For this example, let's rewind the clock a decade or two and imagine if that outrageous forward ball was played by, say, David Beckham.

You can just hear the gushing words now: "What vision, what precision, that's a ball only he could have played". If you can't hear them already, you're about to read a few more now!

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Make no mistake, this was no hopeful punt upfield from the man we affectionately call the Mayor. This, as I've already said, was the assist of the season so far.

We've been fortunate this season to see quite a few beautiful assists this season - Mario Vrancic's two exquisite moves against Sheffield Wednesday, Jacob Sorenson's delectable through ball against Bristol City and quite a few from Buendia himself. 

But for me, the way Kenny McLean split the Tykes in two with a perfect lofted ball is the pick of the bunch - and sure, the finish from Buendia probably does also add some extra shine to it.

And I just feel the way it's been so understated by people outside of these quarters really sums up how underrated McLean is as a player.

All football players eventually get associated with certain moments in their career or certain things that happen.

It goes without saying, when the ship sails on Kenny's Norwich City career, he'll be remembered for years to come for one thing - being the life and soul of the promotion party, nicking the town crier's hat and drunkenly (we can only assume) declaring himself the new Mayor of Norwich.

Now obviously this is a moment City fans will always cherish, will always associate with one of the happiest moments in the club's history and one that will never fail to put a smile on the faces. I'm grinning ear to ear remembering it now as I type this.

However personally, I think he also deserves to be remembered for so much more than just being that cheeky chappy saluting from City Hall with a bottle of Mad Dog 2020!

Kenny McLean, Marco Stiepermann and Tom Trybull during the Norwich City Victory Parade and civic rec

Kenny McLean, Marco Stiepermann and Tom Trybull during the Norwich City Victory Parade and civic reception at Norwich City Hall, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 06/05/2019 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It's really understated how much of an operator on the field Kenny McLean is. 

In terms of being singled out for praise by supporters, he probably suffers a little bit from being surrounded by so many technically brilliant players like Vrancic, Todd Cantwell and the obviously aforementioned Buendia.

But there's a reason Kenny is almost always there or thereabouts in Daniel Farke's thinking - and why he has twice been rewarded with new contracts since arriving from Aberdeen.

In a way, he reminds me of a fellow countryman of his who featured heavily in another title-winning City side - Gary Holt.

Old Three Lungs was never the flashiest player, but you certainly noticed when he was there.

He would run and run and run, would never let the side down and would read the game tremendously well. All of these things apply to McLean with aplomb.

You only have to look as far as the last promotion campaign to remember how important McLean really is.

After an injury-hit start to the season, he came into the team to replace an injured Mo Leitner, who at the time was one of the most important players in the team.

The fact Leitner barely kicked a ball in anger for the Canaries again that season tells you all you need to know about the Mayor - you don't keep players of that ability out of the team without having something about you.

But I also feel there's a lot more to Kenny's game that goes unnoticed by many though - alongside Ollie Skipp he provides a real engine room, does the simple things well and breaks up play terrifically.

I remember earlier in the season praising Lukas Rupp for similar reasons and Kenny is doing this job expertly as well. 

When you having magicians and prolific goalscorers in your team, or penalty-stopping goalkeepers, the midfield anchor will almost always go forgotten. But it is a role that is so, so important in the system we play and it is one we are really well stocked in.

So many players can slip seamlessly into that berth and do a terrific job - Kenny is no different and is probably the most underrated of the lot of them.

Rumour has it I hate January transfer windows

The January transfer window is ridiculous - how I loathe it so much.

While we're all relatively confident that the crown jewels will stay firmly locked away in the safe, it doesn't mean we're not going to have to spend the whole month reading nonsense rumours about our players.

It would be nigh-on disastrous if Emi Buendia were to leave, so it is pleasing to see the right sounds coming from him and the club about a possible move, but I'm still bored of it already.

Personally, if it was up to me there would be no mid-season transfer windows, unless the games were to also halt. Actually, that's not the worst idea.

We've already seen earlier this campaign how transfer windows can interfere with matters on the field - for me, we should do away with them.

Slam the window as soon as the first ball is kicked, then only re-open if there's also a winter break - that's my take.

My memories of Mike Sutton

Like many City fans, I was saddened to learn of the death of Mike Sutton, Chris Sutton's dad and a former City player in his own right.

I'm nowhere near old enough to remember the days the elder Sutton wore yellow and green, but I do have my own memories of him.

When I was a hellraising rapscallion I attended Hellesdon High School, where Mr Sutton was part of the PE department.

By the time I was there, the very turn of the century, I seem to remember he was on the peripheries - definitely still bout the place but I don't remember him leading many of my classes.

The one thing I do remember though, is an amusing conversation we had, which I Tweeted about at the time.

I brought in my Norwich City handbook especially for him, turned it to the page listing goals and appearances and asked him why his son had scored so many more goals than him.

As dry as you like, he replied: "Because he was a striker," before adding "but he was also a lot better than me!"

Rest in peace, Mr Sutton.

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