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Michael Bailey: Is the fight really on to be Norwich City's number one next season?

Tim Krul celebrates with the Norwich City fans after winning promotion back to the Premier League at Carrow Road last season. Picture: Alan Stanford/Focus Images

Tim Krul celebrates with the Norwich City fans after winning promotion back to the Premier League at Carrow Road last season. Picture: Alan Stanford/Focus Images

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There's a new goalkeeper on the way - but what does it mean for those waiting for him at Norwich City? Canaries correspondent Michael Bailey takes a look at the situation.

Schalke's Ralf Fahrmann in action during a pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Picture: PASchalke's Ralf Fahrmann in action during a pre-season friendly against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Picture: PA

Give a man a reputation as an early riser and he can sleep 'til noon, so wrote Mark Twain - a quote that I'm sure can now be equally applied to women and everyone else.

It can also be applied to Tim Krul, who had to deal with the flip side of that sentiment last season - a glorious season too.

The Canaries' number one was consistent and continually improving for so much of that campaign. His outstanding save from Leon Clarke at Wigan as Norwich City ground out a precious away point on another pivotal weekend, was as crucial as any moment along the Canaries' Championship-winning path.

His aura around the group - with an inexperienced back line in front of him - held everything together, despite the pressure and nerves of trying to achieve what was unthinkable little more than a few months earlier.

Tim Krul collects the ball during Norwich City duty at Villa Park, on the final day of last season. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus ImagesTim Krul collects the ball during Norwich City duty at Villa Park, on the final day of last season. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

And yet, here we are. The Premier League kicks off in not much more than a month's time, City will be the ones doing the honours alongside Liverpool on the European champions' return to Anfield - and most have had an eye on the goalkeeper situation as one that needs tidying up before the competitive action arrives.

It's clear now so much of that thought-process comes from those opening few weeks, when a small collection of errors merely revealed the story of a goalkeeper still to get a proper platform to shake off his serious injuries - and on top of that, one thrown into Championship battle with the warm-up of just a couple of pre-season friendlies.

Those latter thoughts were the first impressions and as Mark Twain knew all too well, those are the thoughts that engrain and linger - even though the objective picture from the New Year's point at Brentford onwards leant much more in Krul's favour.

That said, the situation ahead of next season has been incomplete. Michael McGovern's new contract last season was well earned - his supreme attitude and benefit to the collective cause helped make it happen.

But for some years now, it's been perceived wisdom that Premier League outfits need three goalkeeping options - and the Canaries have contemplated for some time now, how best to treat that situation for next season.

A significant part of the answer came on June 3, and Krul's new three-year contract - a man who just weeks before was desperate to gush about his own Premier League return and the chance to prove his career didn't end with his injury nightmare or Newcastle exit.

Norwich City's current squad and contractual tweaking screams one clear message: those who did it last season are going to get the chance to carry on their good work at a higher level. Tim Krul is a significant member of that group - one who deserves his second chance and is arguably the only figure who can claim to have the combination of personality and Premier League experience, to know how far his team-mates are going to need to raise their game.

Which brings us on to Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann - a man who has been in Norwich completing his medical and barring any late complications, is set to join Farke's group for next season; albeit with the clear suggestion a future permanent switch is not on the table.

Fahrmann's pedigree is undoubted: former German Under-21 international, almost 200 Bundesliga appearances on his CV and appearing in the Champions League only last season - all at the age of 30, which even for goalkeepers comes with a expectation of game time.

The Huddersfield past of Schalke boss David Wagner, City's sporting director Stuart Webber and its role in the proposed move is an unavoidable conclusion - and there will clearly be trust between them over how the situation is handled for Fahrmann at Carrow Road, heading into the new campaign.

And the German will do one thing: push Krul hard. City's number one will know his level will need to be high and consistent to make sure his starting berth at the top of Farke's team sheet endures through the season.

The best-laid plans can always take their own turn. If things were routinely predictable, football would be very different.

Even with Fahrmann accepting his initial task to push Krul into his best form on the biggest stage, you imagine the loanee will still have eyes on seeing how far and hard he can push his rival - if only to reignite his own career.

And Krul in turn will need backing and faith - as well as that steely determination he showed last season - to prove he can be a crucial cog once again for Daniel Farke's Norwich City machine.

- For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…

Michael Bailey on Twitter @michaeljbailey

Michael Bailey on Facebook @mbjourno

Michael Bailey on Instagram @mrmichaeljbailey

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