Norwich City’s top 100 appearances: Jonny Howson (76) – Through highs and lows, the Canaries midfielder has been a constant bright spot they dare not lose
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
188 appearances/24 goals
It says it all that after two relegations and a failed attempt at a Premier League return, most Norwich City fans would still back Jonny Howson to the hilt.
The midfielder celebrated his 29th birthday on Sunday having spent more than five years at Carrow Road – and many Canaries fans have their fingers crossed Howson won't be a sacrificial summer lamb in the forthcoming squad evolution.
There is an argument City may have already had Howson's best days, and the discussion over what would be a good price for the midfielder should suitors come calling will run for a while yet.
But that should only serve to underline how fortunate City should consider themselves to have enjoyed such a soundly talented footballer with an impressively grounded nature, for just £2m.
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Howson had already been the youngest captain at Leeds United – his boyhood club where even now, even in a yellow shirt, his Elland Road returns are revered.
Paul Lambert ignored injury to sign Howson in the January of 2012 as his Leeds contract counted down. He had to wait until March before the then 23-year-old Howson could make his City debut at Stoke.
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Five games later he had his first City goal, with a trademark burst into the penalty box against Everton – and before too much longer, Norwich's Premier League survival was assured.
Like most, Howson found the restrictive confines of Chris Hughton's top-flight set-up an extra hurdle to jump – and that proved a problem. After all, it's been a defining sight of Howson's time at Carrow Road: rampaging runs from deep midfield, often leading to a genuine goalscoring chance for either him or a team-mate.
Howson's quality on the ball is defined by his quality in front of goal – be it a few yards after some canny movement, running with the ball from deep like his exquisite strike at Millwall in 2015, or 'that' goal this term as the ball came down from the heavens and Howson let rip.
The Leeds lad has always looked a class above the Championship. Even in struggling top-flight sides, Howson has looked like one who deserved better around him.
His 2016 player of season award was well deserved. Maybe only sentiment allowed Wes Hoolahan to pip him this year. But whatever is next, City should be thankful for the best of Jonny Howson.