David Hannant: Why I'm backing Oliveira to lead Nelson's county to Derby Day glory
PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 February 2018
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Picture the scene: Pride Park, City are trailing by one goal to nil and up steps, let's say, James Maddison.
The City midfielder chooses his spot, goes for it, only for Scott Carson to make the save.
Midway through the second half and - remarkably - City win another penalty. This time, it is Nelson Oliveira who takes on the responsibility and sticks his penalty away with aplomb.
Obviously, now almost a week removed this scenario was transposed - but had that been the case, how many people would be lambasting Maddison for missing the gilt-edged opportunity. My guess? Probably none.
The other thing we would probably be debating, would be something along the lines of: why are we not giving a goal-starved striker the perfect opportunity to get back among the goals?
Obviously what actually happened was - much like Chelsea - Nelson goes first, and misses.
Despite this, I have no real qualms with the fact that Oliveira took that fateful penalty, even with the hindsight knowledge of him having missed it.
I also don’t find it concerning that his spot kick was saved – as we saw a few weeks ago when the most in-form striker in English football Harry Kane fluffed his lines, it can happen to anybody.
The point I will really become concerned is the point City’s number nine shies away from the golden opportunity.
Let’s put Saturday aside, after all it’s rare that City are awarded two penalties in a season, let alone two in one game. But were referee David Coote to point to the spot on Sunday, should Nelson show no interest in stepping up, I would be worried.
Don’t get me wrong, I also wouldn’t begrudge James Maddison pulling rank having just scored the last one, but the point to worry is the point Nelson no longer shows an interest in taking one.
And that is a point I don’t see him being close to at the minute.
I can see both sides of the argument with penaltygate – had he not taken the first one, it could have been equally damaging to his confidence. It’s all down to hindsight, so let’s move on.
Even though the goals have dried up (for now), I still see that desire in Nelson Oliveira.
The way he seeks the ball and shoots on sight tells me he is desperate to get back amongst the goals – he knows that is his job and he is desperate to do it.
The one thing I want to see more from him though, is driving into the penalty box. Perhaps a little more patience is needed from him.
He does tend to have a habit of going looking for the ball, then taking a pot shot as soon as he gets it. Were he to be more patient and focus on getting into the box, once the ball arrives he will have much better chances to score.
Social media can be a bit of a misleading indicator of just how the majority of fans are feeling, however, from this platform alone the tide seems to be slightly turning on the Portuguese striker.
City fans do seem to love a scapegoat and I’m worried Nelson is starting to become that man.
Of course it can be frustrating to see your striker not scoring goals, but I have no doubt in my mind who the one man who is most frustrated about this is - Nelson Oliveira.
As my fellow pundit Rob Butler pointed out after Saturday’s game, Nelson’s work rate in the second half could not be faulted.
As somebody naturally drawn to a striker – most of my favourite players in my lifetime have been strikers – I’ve seen that if a striker works hard, goals will come.
What I believe Nelson Oliveira needs is a big occasion to rise to.
Unfortunately, City’s next game is an unremarkable mid-table clash between one side in good form but with dwindling play-off hopes, and a visiting side whose promotion hopes have all the spark of a wet match in Davy Jones’s locker. On a rainy day.
Oh, but it is the East Anglian Derby.
On Twitter I’ve seen lots of people calling for Nelson to be dropped for the Derby, however, I think he has shown enough hard work to keep his place, even if he did miss a penalty.
Nothing endears somebody to Norwich City fans more than a big performance in an East Anglian derby, and I feel after his recent penalty woes, Nelson will be as fired up as ever to make amends – if he isn’t, then something is seriously wrong.
The alternative would be to throw the raw Dennis Srbeny into the derby deep end and see if he flies or falls. Of course it could prove a defining moment, but for an occasion like this, it isn’t worth the risk straight away.
My suggestion – keep Nelson in, get behind him and enjoy the rewards. This Sunday, I’m backing him to be the man to hog all the derby day headlines. OTBC
The Leitner side of Trybull’s injury
Tom Trybull’s injury is a massive blow, the German has been a revelation so far this season. However, it might have its perks too.
While he seems a slightly more attacking player Moritz Leitner was the man Daniel Farke chose to step into Trybull’s shoes and it paid off.
The little I’ve seen of Trybull’s fellow countryman, I’ve been impressed with.
He looks completely unflappable on the ball, almost like he’s gliding on the pitch.
Does anybody reading this remember Leroy Fer’s final game for the club? It was a late cameo in a 3-0 win over Watford in August 2014.
He came on, probably just to say his farewells, but in that time I recall him looking effortless, confident on the ball and so self-assured.
This is what I have seen in Leitner, and something that will be just ideal for Daniel Farke’s breed of football.
Losing Trybull is a blow, but if his compatriot can slot into his boots and show more of what we’ve seen so far, it will be easy to look on the Leitner side of the situation.
The mystery of a Derby
Just what is it about a derby?
When you pause for a moment and think about the very concept, it’s odd really.
On paper, there is nothing really any different to playing Ipswich than any other team in the world. Literally the only difference is that they just happen to be geographically closer to any other club.
It’s a mystery to me why this matters in the slightest, but it is a mystery I wouldn’t change for the world. It’s part and parcel of being a football fan – you are raised with this territorial nature, this desire to get one over those closest to you.
I could try to delve deep into the psychological reasoning for this, where this could have stemmed from; speculate about whether local rivalry originates from the tribal nature of our very species’ pre-evolutionary existence. However, this is a football column, so instead I’m just going to accept it, embrace it and probably sleep about 20 minutes between now and noon on Sunday. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to lose a derby; I don’t plan on remembering.