David Freezer: The stats which prove just how important Tettey has been to City this season
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As news of a new two-year contract for Alex Tettey is confirmed by Norwich City, David Freezer assesses just how important the midfielder has proved to be for the Canaries during the current Championship season.
He may not catch the eye with his style of play but Alex Tettey has proven his worth yet again for Norwich City this season.
At 32 years old it had looked likely that the former Norway international would be bringing an end to his Canaries career this summer – but has instead signed a new contract.
City have handed the combative midfielder a new two-year deal, although it is understood to be with lower wages, understandably given the cost-cutting the club has had to press ahead with as Premier League parachute payments end.
That comes at the end of a season which has proved to be something of a renaissance for Tettey, after initially looking to be on the fringes of Daniel Farke’s plans.
The former Rennes and Rosenborg battler has largely been a popular player among Canaries supporters since his arrival. His unselfish attitude and stubborn persistence in breaking up opposition play have been appreciated, even if his passing ability has been questioned at times, particularly during three seasons in the top flight.
In the Championship the hard-working midfielder has been able to use his experience and physical strength to good effect though, offering protection for his defence.
While we’re on his passing though, how’s this for a statistic... Tettey has averaged the highest pass success percentage in the Norwich squad during the current campaign, with 89pc of his attempted passes reaching their intended target. Not bad for someone whose passing ability has been criticised in the past.
The truth behind that stat – provided by the boffins at WhoScored.com – is that the long-serving workhorse has kept it simple, breaking up play and then letting the more technically-gifted players create. Steven Gerrard-style crossfield passes are not Tettey’s forte and he knows it.
Yet for the opening four league games of this season the man signed by Chris Hughton back in 2012 watched from the bench as an unused substitute.
Having started League Cup wins over Swindon and Charlton, it wasn’t until that fateful day at The Den when Farke turned to Tettey for Championship duty, bringing him on to hold back the tide with Millwall already 4-0 up.
An international break followed and from there a remarkable return began. During September the tough-tackler started five games, City took 13 points from a possible 15 and conceded once.
He did nothing special, simply provided his defensive nous and positional experience to reassure his team-mates – before injury halted his reemergence.
Bleeding in his calf following a 2-1 win at Reading ruled Tettey out for two months and it wasn’t until Boxing Day that he returned, helping to bring an end to a downturn of just one win in 10 games as he bolstered the midfield during a 2-0 win.
It wasn’t until January 20 – aside from the latter stages at Millwall – that he tasted defeat, when Sheffield United won 2-1.
In total this season, during the 21 league games Tettey has started City have lost just three times and conceded 16 goals.
CITY IN THE CHAMPIONSHIP THIS SEASON
• With Tettey P21 W10 D8 L3 F22 A16 Pts38
• Without Tettey P24 W5 D7 L12 F26 A39 Pts22
So it’s no surprise that, from initially being on the fringes, Tettey has since been handed the captain’s armband on several occasions in Ivo Pinto’s absence.
Those stats show just why Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber were keen to keep a man who won 34 Norway caps and is currently 83rd in City’s all-time appearances list on 177.
Had his efforts earned a top-flight move and maintained his earnings, few could have quibbled at Tettey earning the final lucrative deal of his career.
However, as the midfield man has decided he is happy to continue in Norfolk, he could become a key part of Farke’s hopes to develop a squad capable of chasing promotion.
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Next season he can be the ideal mentor to not only guide Ben Godfrey through his Championship establishment, following his impressive League One season at Shrewsbury, but potentially also long-term injury victim Louis Thompson.
Having retired from Norway duty in March 2017 to protect his creaking knees, that younger duo can also share the defensive midfield burden Tettey has largely had to shoulder on his own during the current campaign.
Should that all come together, he could well be enjoying similar adulation to that which Wes Hoolahan has just experienced, when the Canaries finish the 2019/20 season.
• At the time of writing, 85 percent of more than 1,700 votes in a Pinkun.com poll had said they would like Tettey to stay with City.
• Follow Canaries correspondent David Freezer on Twitter @davefreezer