Nelson: I'll settle for this sort of pressure
PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 February 2010 | UPDATED: 17:02 10 September 2010
Norwich City moved five points clear at the top of League One after Grant Holt's second-half goal clinched victory at Boundary Park. Holt struck after 53 minutes after a lovely move down the left, where Wes Hoolahan found Anthony McNamee. His cross eluded Chris Martin, but Holt came powering in to slide the ball home, much to the delight of 1,455 travelling fans.
Pressure? What pressure?
Michael Nelson has a clear view of what constitutes pressure, and it's to be found at the likes of Stockport and Wycombe, not Carrow Road.
“I think pressure is if you're in the bottom four and trying to climb out,” said the City centre-half ahead of this afternoon's home clash with Southampton. “I can't really see where the pressure comes from being top of the league and hopefully getting promoted.
“It's one of those things - if there is any pressure there it's probably the nicest kind of pressure you can have.
“You don't want to be hovering just above or just in the relegation zone. They're the teams who will be feeling the pressure and getting worried as the games are going by.
“Every game that ticks by and the points get ticked on the board we're a lot happier because there's one less game to play and we're closer to the end of the season.”
It's a straight race to the finish now, with City in the driving seat and odds-on to pip Leeds to the top spot - a position helped again during midweek when the former leaders went down at home to Walsall and Charlton lost at Bristol Rovers.
“The results went well for us,” said Nelson. “I think if we were greedy we probably could have done with one more result going for us, but I think we're happy with the way things went. Hopefully the little blip the other teams are having will continue for a bit longer and we can kick on and set off on another run.”
City are hoping to make it a club record equalling 12 home wins in a row today - repeating a feat last achieved from March to September, 1952.
Home comforts will help their cause - with a full house roaring them on and a playing surface that remains the envy of most in the division.
“It will be nice to get on a pitch where we can actually get it down and pop it about,” Nelson said. “That should suit us and hopefully we will perform a little bit more fluently than we have in recent weeks.
“We should be able to get the ball down from the back and in the midfield and hopefully it will suit Wes (Hoolahan) as well. We'll be able to get Wes on the ball and hopefully everyone will be a bit more effective than we have been in recent weeks.
“Obviously with us having the whole crowd behind us for a change - with us being away lately - it's going to be important for us to come out of the blocks and get at them straight away.
“I'm sure they will be probably thinking the same, they will probably want to come and quieten the crowd down for the first 10, 15 minutes, but hopefully we can get the crowd lifted, get them behind us and that will just push us on to get the three points.”
Southampton's strike force is as feared as City's, but Nelson insists there has been no special planning on the Colney training fields this week.
“We go out to try and focus on every game that's coming up. We have worked on stuff this week but I wouldn't say we are any more worried about these than we are any other team,” he said.
“You never know how they're going to play on the day so you just prepare for each game as well as you can and you hope that when they do come you have a good game and they don't have a good game and hopefully that is the way it will work out.
“The manager does his work, he'll sit down, he'll talk with Cully (Ian Culverhouse) and get things prepared and then we'll go out and they tell us what they want us to do and put that into practice on the training pitch. Hopefully as the week goes on we can put what they have taught us on to the field on a Saturday.”
The defensive duties don't start with Nelson and Gary Doherty.
“Obviously it starts at the front,” he added. “If Grant (Holt) and Chrissy (Martin) work hard and don't give the lads at the back any time on the ball the quality for their front men is not going to be there and our job is made a lot easier even before they get to the midfield.
“A lot of the successful teams don't just have natural finishers, they have people who work hard in the team. We've got that throughout our team and so have they, but I'm quite confident that we are a stronger side.”