Loving life and wise words for Nelson - City's gem continues to sparkle
PUBLISHED: 19:45 11 February 2018 | UPDATED: 19:45 11 February 2018
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The freedom to play, the form of his life and a manager helping him flourish. Forget the transfer window background noise and Derby County boo boys - Norwich City life is good for James Maddison.
The prodigious talent added another stellar afternoon by winning one penalty and coolly slotting home a second, as the Canaries left high-flying Derby with a Championship point that was the least their performance deserved.
Maddison remaining on City’s post-January books may well prove one of their best successes from the winter window – but the 21-year-old appreciates Norwich City’s part of the bargain.
“The freedom I’m getting is perfect for me,” beamed the England Under-21 international. “That’s exactly how I want it to be. As long as I’m disciplined off the ball and I always stick to the holding midfielder if that’s my job, or to the full-back, then the freedom that we get when we have the ball is what I relish.
“Maybe this is reward for my patience – I wanted to come to Norwich and hit the ground running and it didn’t really work out like that.
“But I’m relishing it now, I’m playing all the games, scoring goals and getting assists, and I feel like I’m in the form of my life.”
Head coach Daniel Farke is not one to praise young players too highly – something duly noted by Maddison.
“He’s a very good manager to be honest and he doesn’t like to praise me, so I probably shouldn’t praise him so much – but he’s been brilliant with me,” smiled Maddison.
“He’s tried to keep my feet on the ground, which I’m capable of doing myself but it’s a manager’s job to do that as well.
“He’s improved my game too. The reason I’m in good form isn’t just down to me proving myself but the manager and coaching staff improving my game – and I haven’t looked back since the start of the season when the boss came in.”
While Maddison continues to sparkle, Nelson Oliveira’s afternoon in Derby summed up his current plight in leading the Norwich City line.
The Portuguese striker has not hit the back of the net since the home defeat to Brentford just before Christmas, and missed from the penalty spot for the second time in four weeks as he failed to covert in the first half of the Canaries’ 1-1 draw at the in-form Rams.
It was Maddison who had more luck from 12 yards late in the second half to secure City’s point – after Oliveira was fouled in the box – and the midfielder is also confident the number nine’s luck will turn.
Maddison said: “He is down. He is going through a spell at the minute where he can’t seem to score a goal. But his performance there was brilliant, if you ask me.
“Even in the recent weeks, he’s been excellent. His hold-up play has been good. Nelson takes the ball in and manages to not just set it back; he turns in one movement and maybe switches the ball, which a lot of strikers can’t do.
“He didn’t get a goal and missed the penalty but it’s about saying to him keep going. He’s a class player and the goals will come.
“All good strikers will tell you they go through a spell where it just doesn’t fall for you. He had good chances here and to be honest, he made the goalkeeper work on a lot of occasions. Scott Carson was man of the match – that tells a story in itself.
“But we’ve got to keep him going because he’s a class player.”
While Oliveira tries to rediscover his mojo, Maddison’s is overflowing – and Norwich City are among those benefitting.
“I’ve loved every minute of it this season,” he added. “Norwich is a brilliant platform for me. I’m playing every week and I’ve got a manager who likes the way I play.
“We’ve got a brilliant team here and we’re on the fringe of beginning to start something really good, I think.
“I’m playing every minute of every game and I’m loving it. I’m a 21-year-old lad who just wants to play football, so I’m really happy.
“I was always knew I would take my chance when I got it. I’ve always said I’m a confident lad and Daniel Farke coming in was that the little kick up the backside I needed. He gave me a chance to play at Fulham and from then on, I haven’t looked back.”
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