Ralf Fahrmann cut short his Norwich City loan earlier this week
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images
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Tim Krul’s form may have left Ralf Fahrmann frustrated but Norwich City goalkeeper coach Ed Wootten insists the German’s cancelled loan was essential, while backing ‘special character’ Michael McGovern to provide cover.
Fahrmann was signed from German side Schalke last summer but only made three appearances, largely due to Krul’s consistent form, and cut short his season-long deal this week tojoin Norwegian side SK Brann until June.
The experienced German is under contract until 2023 and switched ahead of the start of Brann’s season, aiming to be ready for pre-season with his parent club in July.
‘From when we got promoted last season, you’d be stupid as a footballer not to grasp the opportunity to play in the Premier League and Tim didn’t need competition,’ Canaries keeper coach Wootten explained. ‘We had Michael (McGovern) in the building, an international goalkeeper who pushed him all of last season, was always ready to be involved – as we’ve seen this season.
‘We obviously wanted to add to that because going into a Premier League season with just two is a little bit fragile, so bringing in someone of Ralf’s calibre was really pleasing.
‘He was playing in the Champions League last season and captain of Schalke, played hundreds of games in the Bundesliga, a real imposing figure as well – if you’ve ever met him, he’s six-foot-five and huge!
‘Tim had the bit between his teeth, as did Michael, in the summer, to kick on and do well. That was probably the final piece of the jigsaw to get the final few percent out of him.
‘So it worked out well. It’s unfortunate for Ralf because I’m sure coming in from such a huge club, having played regularly, he would have expected to play a bit more, but that’s testament to Tim.
‘He’s played really well, he had a positive pre-season, did all the work in the summer, away from our pre-season in the off-season, came back in great shape, so fair credit to him, he fully deserved to play and ultimately has barely put a foot wrong throughout the season.
‘So that’s really hard and I liken it to snooker. If you’re on the table and potting all the balls then it doesn’t give an opportunity for the other player to come on – and that’s exactly what Tim has done.’
Fahrmann’s exit has left 35-year-old McGovern as cover for Krul for the final stages of the Premier League season, having played in the 2-0 defeat at Palace in September, when Fahrmann had covered for City’s injured number one, only for a groin strain to flare up midway through the first half.
That was cruel luck for the loanee and after McGovern had played a 5-1 home defeat to Aston Villa, Krul returned and pressed on with his fine individual campaign.
Wootten,speaking to the Along Come Norwich podcast, continued: ‘What you want from somebody who is pushing the first team goalkeeper, as Michael is currently, is somebody that is ready to step in and play.
Ralf Fahrmann training with Tim Krul at Colney earlier this season Picture: DENISE BRADLEY
‘Michael has done that frequently for Northern Ireland at the highest level so you can completely trust him, he can deal with those circumstances, which isn’t easy, like he did against Crystal Palace.
‘He didn’t have huge amounts to do but steps on to the pitch without even having a warm-up, which is very, very difficult for a goalkeeper, to get the speed of the game, having not played for so long.
‘You do need a special character to be able to accept being in a supportive, competitive role, as opposed to being brought in as an outright number one.
‘You need a strong mental capacity to push every day and wait for your opportunity.’
– You can listen to Wootten’s full interview on the latest ACN podcast above
Norwich City goalkeeper coach Ed Wootten, left, and academy keeper Aston Oxborough, right, with legendary Canaries keeper Kevin Keelan during the club’s warm weather training camp in Tampa in November 2018 Picture: Kevin Wiatrowski/Visit Tampa Bay