'I'd like to think I've repaid him' - City star has gone from fearing a mistake to thriving for Norwich City
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From thinking it was a mistake to feeling at home - it's been a career-changing 16 games for Max Aarons at Norwich City.
The academy product impressed in his early Carabao Cup, senior debut outings this season – but it was his league bow in the East Anglian derby cauldron at Ipswich Town that took things to another level.
Since that August Sunday in Suffolk, Aarons has played almost every minute of the Canaries’ rise to the Championship summit and fostered a reputation as one of the second tier’s rising stars.
Yet at the time, the England Under-19 international thought City head coach Daniel Farke had simply made a mistake.
“It was the day before the Ipswich game,” recalled Aarons. “We did a shape thing in training, 11 v 11, and I was in the starting team as such with Jamal (Lewis), Tim Krul and everyone like that – and I asked the boss if he had done it right!
“I can just remember being really nervous for the game, but it was a good day for myself. If I’m honest I didn’t expect it for such a big game. I don’t think anyone did. But it just shows the faith that he can have – if you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
“And I’d like to think I’ve repaid him with that. So I’m really grateful for that opportunity.
“I’ve learned loads – even from last season in the under-23s to now. Loads more responsibility as a full-back. You can see Jamal getting up and down all game, that’s how the boss wants us to play.
“It’s a big responsibility and you’ve always got to be ready and fresh.”
Like City’s own progress since September, Aarons has caught the eye.
But the 18-year-old – who has been awarded two new deals already since the summer – knows the pitfalls.
“You try to take the plaudits in and try to shut them off partly too, because you just want to keep doing what you’re doing and not slip off,” said Aarons.
“Of course it’s really good to see good comments about you and stuff like that, which is always good to see. But Grant (Hanley) and people like that are always keeping my feet on the ground, even the boss, making jokes and telling me I’ve done nothing yet.”
While Aarons was like everyone after Tuesday’s goalless draw at Hull – disappointed both that it wasn’t more and at a six-game winning streak ending – he has high hopes for City’s Carrow Road return against Rotherham on Saturday.
“The way the fans have been with us recently, even going 1-0 down to Stoke and we lost the game – it was an amazing atmosphere, being clapped even when we conceded,” added Aarons.
“Against Millwall all the way through, they did not give up; as we didn’t. There is a real togetherness at the moment so just keeping that up, it drives us through and you can feel it.
“They made another long journey again to Hull. Everywhere is far from Norwich but it’s great to see. You can feel it. You can feel their presence. It’s amazing, especially when you are winning.
“The way we’re playing, if I was an opposition team I would be scared of us. So we’re just looking to kick on and keep it going.”
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