Norwich City fan Edward Seaman says skipper Grant Hanley’s return has played big part in relentless run at the top of the Championship
In a season that has seen our young stars write many of the headlines, the importance of club captain Grant Hanley should not go without mention.
Having missed large portions of the previous two campaigns through injury, the 29-year-old has re-established himself at the heart of our defence, playing every minute in the league since returning to the side at Rotherham in October.
That run now stretches to 21 matches, in which time we have amassed a relentless 49 points, while conceding just 17 goals. It is no coincidence.
When Hanley arrived in the summer of 2017 – shortly after that infamous 4-0 defeat at Millwall – I think the general consensus was that he was something of a no-nonsense defender.
And to be fair, that much is true. I have no doubt the big man would head a brick if it were thrown at him.
But what doesn’t get enough recognition – at least outside of Carrow Road – is the technical side of his game, and the stats back it up.
So far this season, Hanley has averaged nearly 69 passes a game – third only to Brentford’s Ethan Pinnock (72) and team-mate Ben Gibson (78). His pass accuracy of 87.8 per cent is also among the best in the division.
Of course, you can interpret statistics in many ways, but in a team that likes to play out from the back, it highlights the important role he plays.
Hanley’s form has not escaped the attention of his national team manager, Steve Clarke, who handed him a first call up in over two and a half years for the crucial Euro 2020 play-off win over Serbia in November.
While Hanley ultimately had to pull out with a slight injury, his eyes will be firmly fixed on reclaiming that spot for the tournament itself, which has been delayed until this summer.
Achieve that – along with another promotion to the Premier League – and it will have been quite the year for our skipper.
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