The first in a series of player by player reviews here on Holtamania that are definitely not the same as the ones over at Vital. Each day we’ll have the next player, going up by squad number, for all main first teamers. Today’s piece was written by Jack Phillips who writes his own blog entitled The Future’s Bleak. You can also follow on twitter @jpippin.
It’s safe to say John Ruddy’s season has been an odd one; signing from Everton whilst many were still hoping for Fraser Forster to come back on loan again and as he’s just a few years older than our own bright prospects many, myself included, felt his signing may be stagnating their careers. It’s all well and good having good young’uns so long as you use them, surely?
Alas, Lambert knows what he’s doing and Ruddy’s validated his signing.
It also didn’t help that his first impression to the Carrow Road faithful was to let a Phil Neville daisy cutter squirm under his body. It’s alright, he’s got his howler out the way now. Clever lad, this one, we all thought. Only soon, we had a goalkeeper looking somewhat bereft of confidence.
But under Sir Paul’s tutelage he’s become the exact opposite. Bringing the ball out, Cruyff turning on the edge of his own box and even, in the case of Leicester away, flicking the ball up to volley clear despite the close attentions of a Fox. Sure, over-confidence could be labelled on him now and then but there have more than a few moments to keep that in check culminating with Forest at home. Clearing the ball into Nathan Tyson’s backside when picking the ball up just might have been the better option showed he‘s still a way to go.
You can still sense the 26,000 sharp in-takes of breath whenever the ball is on its way back to him or a teasing cross is whipped in. But we should remember every ‘keeper makes mistakes, much the same as every player does, it’s just ‘keeper’s mistake have such bigger ramifications.
Despite these little misdemeanors, he’s becoming something of a cult hero. Running 90 yards to celebrate any number of last minute winners and equalizers has gone some way to winning the masses over. As has tweeting about Ipswich being embarrassed rather than slapped, and thanking them for throwing him a quid, even offering up some career advice to them.
On the pitch, he’s shown himself to be just as an ever improving prospect. His shot stopping is impressive, more often than not it takes a postage-stamped effort rather than something to make us think he “should have done better”. He wants us to play football too, he’s always looking for players’ feet. He clearly loves playing for City, too. One look at the club website on a match day shows him giving it everything.
Next season? He could be a player still to have a question mark over his head. In a league where points are at a premium a safe pair of hands is paramount at the back. Though he’s spent a lot of time between the sticks this season, surely he’s earned his chance to have a crack at the top flight. But surely that would be at the expense of Rudd, and should Ruddy get injured, can we expect Rudd to step up? And then expect Steer to fill-in on the bench?
It seems bring in an experienced ’keeper who’s happy to be number two, loan Rudd and Steer out for six months and bring them back if needed would be many people’s plan of action. Indeed it would be mine. But we all know better than to second guess Paul Lambert.