Norwich defender Nelson unfazed by the pressure
Norwich City defender Michael Nelson insists his team mates will insulate themselves from the growing 'hype' surrounding the club's Championship surge.
Paul Lambert's squad is rapidly closing in on the manager's stated objective of league safety which could be the launchpad for a concerted bid for consecutive promotions over the second half of the season.
Norwich moved into the automatic promotion spots with a battling point at Middlesbrough to stretch their recent run to one league defeat in 11. Nelson is amongst a core of recent League One title-winning players at Carrow Road and believes that experience can help underpin another red letter campaign.
'You can't plan anything in this league,' he said. 'Look at some of the latest results with the likes of Bristol City getting a point at QPR. You just have to go out with the same attitude every week and hope you get the three points. The hype is there and everyone expects us now to score three goals when we go away, keep a clean sheet and go back home but that is something which we have created by doing well. We are used to it.
'We dealt with it last season and that has played a key part in this season, I think. That winning mentality, lads handling the pressure and alongside that the ones who have come in new since the summer are getting used to the expectation. The gaffer sets you up, tells you what he wants and if you make sure you do it then you stay in the team. You have to keep the manager happy.'
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Nelson was paired with Leon Barnett at the Riverside for his fourth different central defensive partner since returning to the starting line up prior to Christmas after a lengthy lay off with an ankle injury.
'I've enjoyed every one of the last few games,' he said. 'Hopefully I can stay in. That is all I concentrate on and as long as I am in there I don't really care who plays alongside me. I have to make sure I do my job and impress the gaffer - he is the only one that counts. It doesn't matter if I impress the fans or the other lads. I'd rather not impress the fans but impress the gaffer if I am honest and hopefully keep my place in the team.
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'You look at the lads who have come in without too many games behind them. Barney hadn't played for a while, Adam Drury played two in three days after not playing for a few months, Zak (Whitbread) played Saturday. A lot of people have come in and it chopped and changed and we have got results. It shows the resilience of the boys and how we're able to adapt to what is thrown at us.'
Nelson played his part in a sturdy Riverside rearguard action during the frenetic final stages with Middlesbrough finishing strongly on home turf.
'It's not an easy place to come because they are fighting for their lives with a newish manager trying to get his style of play on things,' he said. 'We knew it would tough after the efforts the boys put in on Saturday. It wasn't as high a tempo as that game, but that was always going to be the case. We had to make sure if we weren't going to win, then we didn't lose. We dug in and ground out a result. The point has moved us up the table so it's a point gained and one point closer to where we want to be. They're the home team and with the fans behind them you know they'll come at you.'