City have it all, says Nelson
David Cuffley Defender Michael Nelson believes Norwich City's ability to match their League One opponents for steel as well as skill will be a crucial factor in their promotion bid.
Defender Michael Nelson believes Norwich City's ability to match their League One opponents for steel as well as skill will be a crucial factor in their promotion bid.
The Canaries' all-out attacking style has made them the country's top scorers with 59 league goals, demonstrated to devastating effect in last week's 5-0 win at Colchester.
But victory over their East Anglian rivals also brought out the best battling qualities of Paul Lambert's side, with centre-half Nelson helping the back five secure a sixth clean sheet in eight league games.
“The conditions suited them and their style of play and I think a lot of people thought we were a nice, pretty footballing side and we were going to go down there and, the way the pitch and the weather was, they were going to beat us up,” said Nelson.
“We managed to play a little bit of football but we also managed to do the physical things better than them.”
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Nelson admitted, however, that he feared the Colchester game would be called off, even as late as half-time, because of the amount of water on the pitch.
He said: “During the warm-up the ball was sticking when we were trying to pass it and we weren't too sure whether it was going to go ahead. It went ahead and then we weren't too sure if it was going to finish.
“Once you're one or two goals up you're hoping it does finish and doesn't get abandoned after 45 minutes. We just coped a lot better with the conditions and played the pitch better than them.
“We like to get it down, we like to pass it, but sometimes you just can't do that. The pitch is such that you've got to be able to adapt your game and that's what we can do.”
Nelson is still sporting stitches from a cut above his right eye, an injury he sustained after just two minutes against the U's.
“I've been stitched a few times now. The doctor put three in and I get them out after the game on Saturday,” he said.
The 29-year-old has played City's last six matches after being recalled for the injured Jens Berthel Askou and, after a nightmare start to his Carrow Road career, he is enjoying life.
“After the first day, thing weren't going very well for anyone. The club was in a little bit of disarray. But we pulled ourselves round, we're climbing the table and the mood in the camp now is brilliant.
“You have to take it one day at a time, go out and do what you can and put on a good performance and if you do well enough you'll stay in the team. The competition's there.”
The Canaries were hoping to go top of League One with a home win over Brentford today - and Nelson has already faced the Bees once this season in the 1-0 home victory in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy.
He knows the expectation level among fans is rising all the time, and to top the table would only add to the excitement.
“Everyone knew as soon as we finished the Colchester game and we'd seen the other results. One of the first things we saw was that 'If we win next week we can go top'. Everyone is aware of it, you don't go around shouting about it. It's not on everyone's mind, it's just a fact. It doesn't put any more pressure on or change the style we're going to play.
“We're going out to win the game and wherever those three points take us, that's where we'll be at the end of the day.
“The other teams will have a couple of games in hand but it's important that you've got the points on the board and it changes the dynamics a little bit.”
Lambert said Nelson was “colossal” in the win at Colchester.
He said: “Michael was doing great until he got injured at MK Dons and then he played against Swindon in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy and I thought he was excellent.
“Then he had a wee bit of a hard time at Carlisle and he came back from that and in the last few weeks he has been really terrific.
“Maybe he sees Zak (Whitbread) coming in and thinks - like any of them should do if somebody comes in to your position - you are never quite safe, and his performances have been first class.”