Paddy Davitt, Norwich City Writer
Saturday, January 11, 2014
John Ruddy does not subscribe to the view Everton football club is synonymous with the lowest points of his career.
Norwich City’s England international returns to Goodison Park for the first time since a ruptured thigh wrecked his Premier League campaign and forced him to miss five months of football last season. Ruddy was well used to such inactivity on Merseyside during a five-year stint following a 2005 move from Cambridge United where he was restricted to one top flight substitute outing and a lengthy list of loan postings that he has since readily admitted sapped his love for the game.
The 27-year-old returns this afternoon as one of the Premier League’s most consistent performers in recent seasons and with a genuine shot at England’s World Cup squad and Ruddy insists none of that would have been possible without his time at the Toffees.
“I always enjoy going back to Everton because I had five enjoyable years there,” he said. “It is a really nice place to go to with some fantastic people. I might not have played the number of games I wanted but I’ll look forward to it. It’s a great stadium to play at and the fans really make me feel welcome when I go back.
“The injury was a tough one to take but I certainly won’t have any mental issues with going back there after what happened. The surgery was really good, the rehabilitation went well, although it took a little bit longer to get back than I would have liked, but I have been training now for over a year and I am raring to go and get back up there.”
Everton’s progression under Roberto Martinez is no surprise to Ruddy after an impressive opening day Premier League tussle at Carrow Road ended 2-2.
“The first day of the season was probably a good time to play them as they were in that transition phase with a new manager coming in during the summer,” he said. “They have settled down really well and they are playing some good stuff under Roberto. They have been on a run of form that is not far off Champions League type of form so we know it is going to be a tough one.
“I really rate him. I have a lot of time for the way he sets his teams up and how he encourages them to play. I said that right back when he was at Swansea when I played against him when he was still a player.
“They were just starting to adapt that football mentality even that far back and he took it into his management with Swansea, Wigan and Everton and they are reaping the rewards now because Everton probably have bigger resources than those two previous clubs he managed.”
Ruddy is adamant Norwich can get a positive result at Goodison Park after recent battling displays at West Brom, Sunderland and Crystal Palace reversed a depressing away trend.
“I don’t think it’s just Norwich, a lot of teams struggle on the road and for us it has been every season in the Premier League,” he said. “It is one of those things.
“I know fans pay a lot of money and travel a long way and it is appreciated and I can promise them we don’t go into away games thinking we are beaten or that the attitude is a losing one. We give our best every game we go out to play. We’re anxious to turn that around and pick up as many points home and away. If we can keep it tight at the back, and we have something like six clean sheets already, which is only four behind last season, then we have a chance in games.”
Chris Hughton has had to weather the flak during the Canaries’ most difficult phases, but Ruddy insists his players must do their talking out on the pitch.
“We take full responsibility for what happens on the pitch,” he said. “We are sent out with how the manager wants us to play and so it is on our heads. The manager and the coaching staff probably take the brunt of it but the players need to stand up as well.”