Oliver Skipp may only be at Norwich City for a year, but he’s already making a name for himself and earning a ton of praise. The 20-year old Tottenham Hotspur defensive midfielder and youth academy graduate has slotted seamlessly into Norwich’s starting XI this season under Daniel Farke, and he’s endeared himself his manager, his teammates, and to Norwich fans.
Norwich are currently seven points clear at the top of the Championship table as they attempt to promote back to the Premier League next season. Skipp’s performance at the base of the midfield and his protection of the back line are important parts of why Norwich have been so good in the Championship, and according to central defender and captain Grant Hanley not only is Skipp deserving of plaudits, he’s not getting enough.
“Skippy’s got experience beyond his years really, he looks like he’s played at the top level for 10 or 15 years, it’s hard to think that he’s still so young.
“I know he gets a lot of credit but then he probably doesn’t get enough sometimes, because he does all the stuff that you love as a centre-half, [midfielder] Kenny [McLean] is the same. They both have top quality but the ugly side of the game they do so well and I don’t think they get enough credit for that – but they certainly do from us as centre-halves, we appreciate what they do.
“You know Skippy, or Kenny, they’re always going to be there and always going to be in the right position. They read the game so well and it’s their decision making under pressure that’s so good.
“It’s alright being in the right position but you’ve got to have the composure to handle that and the two of them do it so well. It’s a massive part of how we play and they deserve all the credit they get for it.”
I have for a while now tried to tamp down expectations on Oliver Skipp based on his youth and his experience at the Championship level, because football is littered with players who have excelled in the second division but struggled in the Premier League. The thing Skipp has going for him is youth — not only playing but excelling for a top Championship club on loan at age 20 is an extremely positive sign. It doesn’t mean that Skipp’s going to make “the leap” from talented youngster to regular at a Champions League caliber side next season, but it’s a pretty strong indication that Spurs have got quite a player on their hands, if his development continues at its current rate.
And I have to say, watching Skipp perform this season is making it harder and harder for me not to get over-excited about his future. Here’s a YouTube video that shows his touches from a recent match against Bristol City.
This match is probably one of Skippy’s better ones in a Norwich shirt, but I have to say what stands out from these highlights is not only Skipp’s composure with the ball but also his vision — he’s not afraid to put a long ball out from deep in midfield towards a Norwich attacker, and positionally he looks like he knows not only where he needs to be but where he should be to cut out potential attacks.
I’m still tamping down my expectations for Skipp. I’ve been burned by too many potential Spurs wunderkinden in the past (Tom Carroll excepted, he’s forever perfect) to allow myself to think that Skipp can be a midfield revolutionary in Tottenham’s team next season. But reading what Hanley says about him above and what he’s doing right now with Norwich, I can’t help but start to think about what can bring to this Spurs side in years to come.