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Iwan Roberts: Norwich City’s wide men are doing Nelson Oliveira a disservice

PUBLISHED: 17:21 01 March 2018 | UPDATED: 18:45 01 March 2018

Nelson Oliveira could have done with better service from the wings during the game against Ipswich. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Nelson Oliveira could have done with better service from the wings during the game against Ipswich. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Norwich have lost just one league game in their last 11, but have drawn their last four and sit 14th in the Championship, just one point and one place below Ipswich Town, who had that tremendous win away to Preston on the weekend.

Saturday’s draw against Bolton was the club’s seventh at Carrow Road this season in 18 games, the team has scored a paltry 17 home league goals all season which, quite simply, is nowhere near good enough, sadly.

I know football, like many sports, is a game of ifs and buts. However, had Norwich turned four of those seven home draws into wins they would now be sitting sixth, in a play-off position, on 55 points with a great chance of staying in the top six as they are one of the in-form teams in the league. Instead, they are languishing in 14th position.

Something I noticed in the first half of the game against Ipswich the other weekend, was that there was a real reluctance by Norwich to cross the ball. Time and time again they got themselves in good positions down both wings, only for the man on the ball to come inside and either pass the ball backwards or sideways – and by that time Ipswich had eight or nine men behind the ball and looked comfortable defensively.

I kept a close eye on Nelson Oliveira in that first half, as I wanted to see what positions he was taking up when the ball was in wide areas for Norwich.

And to be fair to him, every time the ball went wide he made some good runs and took up some intelligent positions in the Ipswich penalty box, only to be left frustrated when the ball wasn’t delivered in.

Thankfully, Oliveira got his goal last Wednesday at Molineux, but like many of his others it was a goal that was all his own doing and not one that was created for him.

Tomorrow the lads travel to Oakwell with Barnsley bang in trouble, just one place and two points above the relegation zone.

Barnsley haven’t had a home win since they beat struggling Birmingham on November 4, a run of 10 games, half of which they’ve lost. If you also look at the fact that they’ve scored just four goals in those 10 home games, and with Norwich’s away form being very good, then it has to be three points for Daniel Farke’s men.

One of my better goals for Norwich came at Oakwell back on September 8, 1998 in what was my second season for the club and my most productive. I didn’t start in the team that season – I found myself behind Keith O’Neill and the in-form Craig Bellamy, so I had to be patient and wait for my chance.

Keith was prone to picking up injuries so I knew it wouldn’t be long before I was given chance – well, unless Bruce Rioch gave someone else the opportunity that is. My chance came against Barnsley in one of my favourite Norwich kits; it was the dark navy blue one with bright fluorescent yellow on it and the shorts were huge, which I loved.

Midway through the second half Lee Marshall pinged a ball up to me on the edge of Barnsley’s penalty box, I could feel Aide Moses was tight up against me and as a forward, when I knew where the defender was I loved that, I hated it if they stood off me and didn’t let me feel where they were.

Knowing Moses was right up against me I took a touch (it was a delightful touch, even if I do say so myself) and turned in one movement and smashed one past Dave Watson on the volley from about 20 yards out, something I didn’t do too often.

I was more of a two-yards-out striker. It was my first league goal that season and I went on to score 24, my second highest tally of my footballing career.


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