Plymouth v Shrewsbury preview: Ollie Norburn admits to added pressure of his big billing
Ollie Norburn is a Manchester United fan that can sympathise with Paul Pogba.
The Town midfielder has discovered what it is like to be judged on a price tag.
The 26-year-old has been a regular fixture for Shrewsbury this season after joining from Tranmere last summer. He feels he started well in blue and amber, suffered a dip in form, but is back to showing what he can do having recently been handed the armband by Sam Ricketts.
But Norburn does feel he is fighting to justify his mantle of ‘record signing’.
While the exact fee has not been disclosed, it is thought his transfer was significantly larger than the 10-year record of £170,000 Town paid for Grant Holt in 2008.
It’s a different planet to Pogba’s £89.3million but figures are all relative and Norburn, with his football fan head on, understands the thought process.
“At the end of the day you want to impress your manager,” said Norburn, who was ‘top of the class’ while coming through Leicester ranks that included Premier League star Jeff Schlupp and Reading defender Liam Moore.
“I think sometimes there’s that added bit of pressure of ‘oh he’s the transfer record for the club’. I don’t read too much online but you hear the odd thing here and there.
“It’s a game of opinions, you’re going to have people that think the world of you.
“You’re going to have people that think someone else is better. That’s football.
“I’m a fan, I watch Man United, I’ll say if I like a certain player but what does it really matter what I think of that player?
“It’s the manager’s decision, he knows what players are about.
“It’s the pressure of being a footballer and there’s only more pressure the higher you go up.”
Norburn is preparing for a return to Plymouth, a place where things didn’t go well for him four years ago.
He was out the team, a long way from comfortable surroundings, and suffered. It’s taken him this long to get back on track and realise his potential.
The midfielder feels – no matter the fee, opinions will change depending on performances after stepping up from the National League.
He added: “Look at the stick that Pogba got. It just shows how strong-minded he is to blank the negativity out and turn it into a positive. Five months ago people were saying he’s the biggest waste of money in football. Now he’s back to being the best midfielder in the world.
“It can be a fickle game sometimes but it’s a game of opinions and everyone’s entitled to one.”
At a recent event, Town midfielder Dave Edwards named Norburn as the player with the most potential of Shrews’ current crop. The management feel similarly.
“Dave’s played a high level, if I needed to speak to someone here it’d be him, he’s been there and done it.
“(It didn’t work out at Leicester) Probably through myself really,” he admitted. “I left permanently but didn’t make the jump up
“here were distractions living away from home. But I’ve matured, settled, got my missus and baby. That’s why there’s signs of me at my best. I’m happy.”
Ricketts’ side, in 20th, are five places but just two points behind Plymouth and can overhaul them with a win due to the tight nature of the bottom of League One.
What challenges lie ahead of Sam Ricketts’ Town at Home Park tonight?
We spoke with Plymouth Live’s Pilgrims reporter CHRIS ERRINGTON for the inside track on the hosts.
What is the mood around Argyle after a perceived improvement – certainly on the start of the season?
It was looking very grim for Argyle when they went to the bottom of the table on Boxing Day after losing 2-1 away to AFC Wimbledon.
Since then, though, they have won six, drawn four and lost only two of their last 12 games.
Their form at Home Park has picked up after a dreadful start to the season when defensive blunders were ruthlessly punished.
How do fans see the club at the moment? Enough to survive relegation or should be doing more?
Argyle are averaging the seventh highest attendances in League One, which gives you an indication of their size as a club supporter-wise.
However, the finances available to manager Derek Adams for him to spend on his squad do not equate to that.
So, while many of the Green Army believe Argyle should be towards the top end of League One, financially it is very challenging for them to achieve that.
What have been Plymouth’s strengths and/or weaknesses recently?
Ruben Lameiras has had an excellent start to 2019, scoring goals and creating them as well, showing tremendous skill and trickery on the ball.
When he and Graham Carey are on song, they are a formidable attacking duo.
Argyle have also tightened up defensively compared to earlier in the season when they conceded some really soft goals.
What is Argyle’s injury and suspension situation?
Antoni Sarcevic is available again after serving a two-match suspension but Kyle Letheren, Argyle’s first choice keeper recently, misses a second successive match because of a groin injury he suffered in the 2-0 defeat at Sunderland on March 2.
In his absence, on-loan Arsenal shot-stopper Matt Macey has been restored to the starting line-up.
Midfielder Conor Grant (thigh) and left-sided attacking player Joel Grant (hip) continue to be ruled out – probably for much of the rest of the season.
Shrewsbury Town (3-5-2): Arnold; Williams, Waterfall, Beckles; Whalley, Grant, Edwards, Golbourne, Norburn (c); Campbell, Payne.