Norwich City: Why It's Time That Michael Turner Gets the Credit He Deserves

Andy Ward@@Wardy1710Contributor IIMarch 10, 2013

NORWICH, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 29:  Michael Turner of Norwich City and Joleon Lescott of Manchester City tussle for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Norwich City and Manchester City at Carrow Road on December 29, 2012 in Norwich, England.  (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

The official verdict from the match-day sponsors may have deemed that Bradley Johnson was the man of the match in Norwich City's disappointing goal-less draw with Southampton. But Michael Turner could be forgiven for feeling slightly bewildered as to why he wasn't the man picking up the Champagne. 

It shouldn't come as a surprise that Turner was overlooked with the former Sunderland man consistently neglected for praise despite putting in some wonderful defensive performances.  

It's hard to state just how important his partnership with Sébastien Bassong has been in the heart of the Canaries' defence, although Norwich's record of nine clean sheets already in this campaign should be all the proof needed. 

Compare that to this time last year when Paul Lambert's team could only manage three shutouts in the entire season, and the improvement is there for all to see.

But as much as Norwich have developed as a defensive unit, they have equally declined as an attacking force since the departure of their former boss, and it really doesn't bear thinking about what position Chris Hughton's outfit would be in if they were leaking goals in the manner that they were 12 months ago.

That's how significant Turner's contribution has been, and if Norwich do go on to achieve Premier safety, then the 29-year-old will have been a significant part of that accomplishment.

But yet, Turner's influence has been largely underplayed. 

When the no-nonsense defender first arrived at the club, his performances were admittedly nothing short of atrocious. Even the most avid Norwich City fan must have been fearing the worst about the type of player that Chris Hughton had brought to the club.

Turner toiled in the summer sun, chasing shadows as the likes of Fulham's Mladen Petrić and Liverpool's Luis Suárez simply pulled him all over the pitch.

But, amazingly, as summer melted into autumn, Turner appeared to find a new lease of life. The way in which the Lewisham-born defender has bounced back speaks volumes about his character.

Lesser players and indeed lesser men would have been tempted to retreat into their shell, but Turner has displayed the courage to pick himself up and go again.

He leads by example on the field, making countless blocks and literally throwing himself at opponents in trying to protect the Canaries' goal. 

What's more, Turner is a player who understands his limitations and is content to keep things simple. 

He would be the first to admit that he is never going to become a ball-playing centre-half in the mould of a Gerard Piqué or a David Luiz. But he makes use of his other qualities brilliantly, and his commitment to the cause is there for all to see.

Against the Saints, Turner was again magnificent and didn't the receive the credit that both he and Bassong deserved for keeping Rickie Lambert largely quiet.

Once more, Norwich had their defence and goal-keeper to thank for securing a mostly undeserved point in their quest for safety, with the Canaries' offensive contingent frankly anonymous. 

It's been a worrying trend throughout the season, but especially since the turn of the year, and Chris Hughton must be thankful that his back four have managed to perform so valiantly. 

For that reason, Turner must be within a shout of completing a remarkable turnaround and securing a place in the top three for the Canaries' Player of the Season awards, with only Robert Snodgrass and Sébastien Bassong ahead of him in my opinion.

The Norwich fans have affectionately formulated a song about their centre-half to the tune of "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" that perfectly illustrates the impact that Turner has had at Carrow Road.

It states how he used to be, shall we say, "not very good," but now he's "all right," and that assessment isn't a million miles from the truth. 

However, if Turner keeps putting in the type of displays that he has been of late, the Canaries' faithful may well have to come up with a more flattering adjective.

Follow Andy Ward on Twitter.


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