Six months is a hell of a long time in football.
It’s just past that half-a-calendar mark when the club captain and veteran of pushing 200 first-team appearances was proudly holding the Play-Off Final trophy to the heavens as 40-odd thousand jubilant Canaries celebrated in a Wembley wonderland.
Fast forward to Monday night – a wet and windy Carrow Road with about 1,000 brave souls watching Russ run out for the Under-21s against their Southampton counterparts:
10 mins: A young lad in red and white runs by Martin with ease to notch the opening goal of the night.
The rest of the game turned out a whole load better for the yellow and greens courtesy of a stellar performance from Jamar Loza.
But a penny for the thoughts of the man who just a few weeks back was hailed as the hero of Anfield for racing up to Merseyside after the birth of his son to skipper his side to a point and score the equalising goal to boot.
It was a goal which, at that moment, made him the club’s top scorer! Days don’t come much better than that one for a professional footballer or, in fact, a human being in general.
But back to that Under-21s outing. His appearance was perfectly understandable if he was returning from an injury lay-off perhaps? But of course, that wasn’t the reason.
Russ was suspended from the Swansea match after the last ditch ‘take it for the team, maybe Toure will miss the penalty’ incident at the Etihad, then was curiously missing altogether from the squad at Chelsea.
And on Sunday he was an unused sub against Arsenal, watching on as his replacement Ryan Bennett puts in a near faultless performance with the added bonus of him incurring the Twitter wrath of a certain disgraced former newspaper editor, turned genial breakfast TV host.
Suddenly, ironically just as ‘outcast’ Lewis Grabban finds himself back in favour, Russell Martin finds himself out in the cold a tad.
Of course, that can change in a second with – perish the thought – an injury or suspension to a Bennett, Bassong or a Wisdom. But as things stand, the club captain finds himself in a sticky place.
As the Grabban saga has shown, Alex Neil is not one to hold a grudge.
Martin hasn’t done a whole load wrong apart from the odd blooper which managed to incur the wrath of a section of supporters who seem to have borne a long standing grudge of their own.
[Note: I can feel the ground shake as my phrase, “the odd blooper” sinks in to anyone not persuaded of Martin’s fine character and leadership skills on the pitch as I am.]
While everyone can be forgiven the odd slip, the captain will naturally come under a harsher spotlight.
And he’s not alone – in fact, he’s in damn good Kompany. The likes of Vincent Kompany and John Terry have both, this season, struggled with form, been dropped to the bench and received fans’ criticism.
On the ‘Toon, the pressures of leadership and captaincy on Fabricio Coloccini are increasingly taking their toll on his demeanour and performances.
And at Swansea, after a great start to the season and universal praise, suddenly Ashley Williams is looking a pale shadow of his former self.
Equally, certain players have struggled to make a mark under Alex Neil – Kyle Lafferty most notably. However, the word seems to be that his exclusion is purely down to not having the right qualities that the boss is looking for.
Martin seems to be a victim of timing, circumstance and most notably, Neil’s change in direction away from the early season bravado on display up to the Newcastle debacle and that turgid home loss to West Brom.
For the past few games, we’ve looked a much tighter unit as he tinkers to suit and is happy to give up possession in compensation for a solid defence and swift counter-attack policy.
It’s mighty harsh to say that if Martin had been next to Bassong for those games, we would have been weaker. But that’s what some are saying.
I’m not one of the boo boys willing to take a pop at him at every turn. Someone who has turned out for my team as often as he has deserves much more respect than that.
Six months ago, it would have been unthinkable that Martin would be consigned to the sidelines, away from the action, playing second fiddle to another.
But if that continues for the rest of the season, are his days in Norfolk now numbered? An imminent exit unthinkable for someone who has given his all for the club in three divisions?
With the January transfer window just round the corner, and new defensive faces likely to come into the squad, Martin will have his work cut out.
Yet I’m sure he still has the full confidence of his boss. It’s only a matter of time before he reclaims his first team position isn’t it?
Then again, that was what everyone thought about Bradley Johnson.