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27 January 2016

Midfielder passes fourth anniversary of City move

In the latest edition of his monthly blog, Senior Club Journalist Ben Mouncer applauds one of City's best January signings, Jonny Howson.

JONNY Howson is a cracking endorsement for the January transfer window.

Sunday marked the fourth anniversary of the midfielder’s arrival at City, and his impact since is proof that true value can be found at this often-maligned time of year.

The Yorkshireman’s arrival in 2012 was somewhat understated. Injury had prevented him from playing a game for his boyhood club for nearly two months and after signing, the same injury delayed his Norwich debut until March, an instantly forgettable 1-0 defeat at Stoke.

From then to now, Howson has built a strong bond with Norwich City and its supporters. He has reached this point of recognition through his immeasurable reliability and a knack for moments of outstanding quality.

I’m thinking of his memorable double at the end of his first full campaign at Carrow Road: initially the swinging drive to cap a Premier League status-securing 4-0 victory over West Brom, before his delightful run and finish in famous triumph over Manchester City at the Etihad the next week.

His goals are more often than not both good and timely. In the second half of last season, strikes against Charlton, Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Ipswich in the play-off semi-final were each testament to his technical skill.

The low volley finish – a particular speciality - in the vital win against Aston Villa in December came after a run of three matches where Alex Neil left him out of his starting eleven. In the testing period since, he has arguably been City’s best performer.

As a player, he is a rare breed. An all-round midfielder, he brims with energy, can spot and deliver a pass off either flank, is proficient in the tackle, remains both creative and considered plus, crucially, he scores goals. All while keeping an eye on any stray pigeons that might require assistance.

That aside at West Ham was the perfect window into Howson’s character. When speaking to him, nothing would suggest he was an established Premier League footballer.

His affable manner makes you believe he would be suited to running a pub on the Dales when his playing days are over. A friendly barman who, during a previous career, just happened to occasionally rattle in howitzers like the one at Stoke earlier this month.

He would never boast about such things, though. That’s Jonny Howson, quietly excellent. Here’s to many more years, because we’re lucky to have him.

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