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David Hannant: Why I’m backing Lukas Rupp to silence his critics and be a big player this season

PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 October 2020

Jason Knight of Derby County and Lukas Rupp of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267
03/10/2020

Jason Knight of Derby County and Lukas Rupp of Norwich in action during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, Norwich Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd +44 7904 640267 03/10/2020

Paul Chesterton

It is a trait of some Norwich City fans I really can’t stand - though one I’m sure is not exclusive to those that wear yellow and green.

I’ve said in the past that the tendency to try and find a scapegoat drives me up the wall - when we lose, we lose as a team, why pin it all on one player?

It also seems some players are impervious to criticism, while others see blue murder cried at them for the slightest of errors.

We’ve seen so many players get this treatment in the past - players like Mark Fotheringham, Marley Watkins and Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

More often than not, this label tends to be the end of a player in the Norwich City family - once you’re the scapegoat, your City career fizzles out and that’s that.

However, every so often, one of these players will roll up his sleeves, settle in and go on to prove all the doubters wrong.

There’s no better example of this than one of the players that is now held in the highest esteem by City fans far and wide - my fellow columnist Iwan Roberts.

I’m sure Iwan would tell you himself that he took a little while to get his feet truly under the table at Carrow Road - and look how he is seen now.

Another two recent examples of this are Mario Vrancic and Marco Stiepermann - again, players whose City careers did not get off to the finest of starts and came in for a bit of stick - only to become really key players once they had settled in.

Vrancic, in particular, is one people now clamour to be named in the first eleven each week - myself included.

Which brings me on the Lukas Rupp - the latest man to find himself on the end of what I feel is unfair criticism.

I sent a tweet out on Saturday saying just how much I want him to succeed in a yellow shirt - a tweet that was prompted by the sheer volume of comments I’ve seen condemning the German.

In all fairness, the vast majority of replies I received were pretty positive, but I also got a fair number suggesting he was among the worst players ever to pull on the shirt and that he had no place on a football pitch, etc.

I, for one, like to give a player a proper chance before passing judgement and, for me, we haven’t really had the chance to really see what the former Hoffenheim man is all about.

Ever since his arrival, he has been played in a plethora of different positions. Right back, right wing, number eight, number 10 - all while adjusting to a new country and the alien conditions of behind closed doors football.

As we’ve seen from the Farke era, very few players come over from the continent and immediately take to English football like fish to water - it is so important to have patience.

Clearly Rupp, with the utility player role he’s been handed, is fighting an uphill battle to settle.

I therefore don’t really think the way he has been spoken of in certain parts is at all fair.

However, on Saturday I think we saw a real glimpse of how important he could be with a decent run of games in one spot.

In the holding midfield role he played alongside the impressive Ollie Skipp, I genuinely think we saw his best performance in a yellow and green shirt.

It is unfortunate he gave away the free kick for the winner, as that is the one thing his critics will be referring to. Ignoring the fact it was a challenge he had to make and for me he took the ball.

But the rest of the game, he was a real standout performer.

He played with passion, composure and assurance, he broke up play terrifically with a 92pc pass success rate and made more tackles than anyone else on the field of play.

He’s never going to be an Emi Buendia, who dazzles with genius, or an Onel Hernandez who flies down the wing, but not every player needs to be.

On Saturday, he and Ollie Skipp really looked to complement each other well - and not solely because of the hilarious way their names go together to sound like a Norfolk man telling you what piece of gym equipment he likes he jump with - as Chris Goreham brilliantly pointed out in commentary.

Even last season we saw that he is a player who is willing to dig in his heels and do the simple things well - which is what you need in the holding midfield area.

I’m sure he still has plenty of detractors, but for me, if the position he has played his best in is the one he holds up long time, he could well prove to be an invaluable member of the squad going forward.

I love an underdog and I really hope he proves to be somebody who wins over the City faithful, like Mario and Marco did before him. Like any player who wants to play for the shirt, he has my backing 100pc. OTBC.

Why I’ve signed the stadium petition

I have signed the petition calling on the government to allow football fans back into stadiums as soon as possible.

While the virus has been prevalent, I have had no problem with the idea of putting safety first - no matter how much I’ve missed my trips to Carrow Road.

However, there is so much inconsistency in what is and isn’t deemed safe.

Surely if it is soon deemed safe to sit inside the O2 area, an enclosed building with thousands of people, it can’t be unsafe to sit in an open air stadium with the same number of people.

It seems to me that the government is picking and choosing what it thinks is safe without any common sense or forethought whatsoever.

We have seen already that Norwich City has put a huge amount of work into coming up with a system that would be safe and workable - this should be rewarded.

Of course we all want concert venues and theatres to be able to run too, but surely an outdoor stadium is a far safer option?

Good luck, Timm and thanks for the memories - “how awful!”

When a player departs there are several different ways you can feel.

Sometimes it’s anger, other things sadness, other times indifference or understanding.

Timm Klose is a bit of a weird one for me.

On one hand, I do feel he’s been a great servant and he is clearly a popular figure among the City faithful.

On the other hand, I can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness at how his City career turned out in the end.

Had he not had such wretched luck with injuries, I have no doubt he would have been even more of a cult figure - if not a club legend.

I always look at his injury in his first season as being the pinch point in the season - I firmly believe had he been fit for the final stages of the season then we’d have been able to stave off relegation.

However, at the same time, there’s also something quite romantic about him going back to where it started.

His City career could have been so much different - but there is one thing we’ll always have: “Oh no! How awful!”


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