As I took my seat last night, the world’s only rotating scoreboard was replaying last season ’s five-goal bonanza against Forest. I thought at the time it was tempting fate.
As it transpired we’d have settled for a single goal, any goal; one that deflected in off Dennis Sbreny’a backside courtesy of a shanked Onel Hernandez cross would’ve done. One that pinged in off the face of the pitch invader. Anything.
But five-goal bonanzas are, right now, as likely as seeing Nelson Oliveira man a snow plough, with Jamal Lewis as his co-pilot.
Some will argue the project is on course – and there remain clear signs that despite the accumulation of draws, progress is still being made – but equally, it takes some high-level optimism to not be a little underwhelmed by a second consecutive goalless draw.
The first half did, however, have its moments and there’s a thrust and dynamism to the play of Onel Hernandez that promised much. More to the point, he offers something different and looks well equipped to deal with the muscle of Championship full-backs.
With a full Farke pre-season behind him, Hernandez looks a good fit and is certainly doing all the right things to be a future Carrow Road crowd-pleaser. We love a trier Nelson.
Dennis Sbreny meanwhile is clearly some way off being the lone striker Team Farke wants him to be. That’s no criticism of the young German, however. He’s game and willing, but playing at the sharp end in a team that’s frugal in its creation of goalscoring opportunities is not a happy place.
While you’re still coming to terms with the vagaries of English football’s second tier and centre-backs who are looking to launch you into row Z at the first chance, it becomes doubly difficult. That he looks like RvW with muscle shouldn’t disguise the fact he’s a very different kettle of fish; namely a cut-price striker from the German third tier who is the epitome of work-in-progress and who too needs a full pre-season before he is judged too harshly.
That said, he didn’t look like scoring a goal last night.
Grant Hanley too continues to fill the boots of Forbes and Mackay with some aplomb. With every game the Scot seems to find another level, and now with a song to his name has clearly been taken to the hearts of the faithful. He’s Dumfries granite plus some, and through sheer effort, commitment and no-nonsense has played himself into first-name-on-the-teamsheet territory. We love a trier Nelson.
Which naturally brings us on to our errant Portuguese striker, who through specific actions unknown has incurred the wrath of Farke – an uncomfortable place to be for sure. The head coach cited him operating in training at 80 percent, and so took the decision to leave him out of the squad.
Quite how Oliveira thought he could get away with acting thus under this current regime is as hard to comprehend as the lack of effort in the first place, especially off the back of one goal in 13 games.
Much has been made of the value of a harmonious dressing room – the haste in which Alex Pritchard was granted a move as soon as he expressed a desire to be somewhere other than Norfolk being a prime example – but given the dearth of striking talent in the ranks Oliveira has been indulged. This was him throwing it back in the coach’s face.
We all have no option but to indulge him until May. Then Webber and Farke have, on the face of it, an easy decision to make.
So… another disappointing one. Let’s not pretend otherwise. Calling it a project doesn’t mean we have given up the right to be entertained. But there are still some vital signs.