Norwich City Report Card: Nelson Oliveira. Discuss?
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
More glimpses of promise but limited end product. Another case of what might have been for Nelson Oliveira and Norwich City last season. Paddy Davitt assesses what next, in the latest of our report cards.
Nelson Oliveira is in danger of being remembered as an enigma when he finally hangs up the boots.
How can a player good enough to be called into Portugal's international squad at the start of this past season end it with one goal in 22 Norwich City games?
Given that came at Wolves, when John Ruddy patted his speculative long range effort into the net for a stoppage time equaliser, the barren spell could have been even more marked.
Oliveira seemingly possesses all the right physical attributes, allied to the grace, poise and technical ability to operate in a higher league than the Championship and, dare we utter it, for a more heralded club than the Canaries right now.
Yet few City fans would mourn his departure if noises coming out of Portugal at the end of the season transpire into a Carrow Road transfer exit.
Plenty more may have wished the club cashed in when there was reported interest from the likes of Swansea City 12 months previous.
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Oliveira's work rate was never in question during the long fallow periods last season.
His temperament sadly was.
Right back to that opening weekend spat with a new head coach at Fulham that appeared to set the tone for his campaign in green and yellow.
Frustration at not starting in favour of Cameron Jerome was entirely understandable. Maybe even on one level a positive signal of the self belief that he should have been City's attacking spearhead at Craven Cottage.
It certainly had the desired effect in a high octane cameo that brought a late equaliser before an explosive, incendiary celebration firmly directed at Daniel Farke.
The German deftly defused this first public challenge to his authority with a measured, stirring piece of oratory a few days later - after Oliveira had been left out for the League Cup win over Swindon Town.
Only the name on the front of the shirt, not the back mattered to Farke, and those who follow. Oliveira was brought back into the fold but the battle lines were drawn.
Extended periods of injury, and a return to his homeland in search of fitness, punctuated spells when he could never quite recapture that initial prolific burst of four goals in six games for club, plus a World Cup qualifying strike for Portugal, in a 5-1 romp over the Faroe Islands.
That would be as close as the 26-year-old would come to joining Cristiano Ronaldo in Russia this month.
Another flashpoint erupted prior to Norwich's home league game against Nottingham Forest in early March.
Farke questioned Oliveira's sluggish attitude in training and his professionalism.
Those were just as damning barbs as a goal drought that led to the raw Dennis Srbeny's late-season audition for the sole striker role.
Farke made it clear he wants Stuart Webber to deliver fresh firepower during this summer transfer window.
Oliveira's sale may well facilitate that quest to evolve the squad at the top end of the pitch. Then the precocious frontman will be someone's else problem.
But should divorce come to pass there will still be a nagging sense of regret that Farke, or even Alex Neil before him, was unable to extract a rich seam of talent at their disposal.
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