West Ham's Nordtveit shows us what we have been missing
PUBLISHED: 13:05 24 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:05 24 April 2017
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Norway international midfielder had something to prove for the Hammers against Everton
We weren’t expecting much and when his first touch went awry and he gave a way a free kick trying to get the ball back, we all thought it was going to be a tough afternoon for Havard Nordtveit.
But as the game went on, we all began to realise just what we have been missing from the Norway international and by the end, he had played a vital part in West Ham’s draw with Everton.
Nordtveit hadn’t started a game since the 5-0 home drubbing by Manchester City, so it is understandable that he was a little nervous.
“It was quite hard to be fair,” said the 26-year-old, who had played in Germany for the last seven years after leaving Arsenal.
“I was in the position where I have played most of my career in Germany, but I think I needed the first 10 or 20 minutes to get into the game.
“After a couple of bad touches, you just need to slap yourself in the face and start doing what you are supposed to and what you have been doing in training and it will be a good result.
“I was a little bit shaky at the start, but after that I felt better and better.”
He certainly improved as he went along. And in the second half, as well as stopping the service to Romelu Lukaku, he also began to show his passing skills going forward.
“I am not the kind of player who passes it back,” said Nordtveit. “The boss said at half time that I need to spread some balls and that is what I did and most of them went through as well which was good.”
Nordtveit certainly brought wing-backs Edimilson Fernandes and Arthur Masuaku into the game in the second half, but his work at stopping Everton was just as effective.
“We did some good defensive work against a strong strikeforce,” he said. “They didn’t have any chances so we should be really happy with what we did and hopefully we can get a few more points in the next couple of games.”
It has been a hugely disappointing first season at the club for Nordtveit, who has been forced to play out of position for much of it, as well as suffering injuries.
“This season I have been really struggling with injuries,” he reflected. “In the last five years I never got injured, but when I came here, I did.
“But I am a hard working guy and I stay positive every day and when you get the chance, you need to be good, so I will keep going and see what happens.”
Another positive for the Scandinavian is the words of his manager after the game.
“I think he was like the metronome of our team, keeping the balance and the shape and he kept that position really well,” said the boss.
“I told him at half time that I was pleased with him without the ball, but with the ball I wanted him to be more brave, to turn and pass the ball to the flanks.
“Throughout the whole game he was really good, but in the second half he was excellent.”
Is Nordtveit the one that got away this season? Mark Noble, Cheikhou Kouyate and the excellent Pedro Obiang have all been in front of him this season, but he showed what he can do on Saturday.
“You can say he has been unlucky this season, but he is a great professional,” said Bilic. “Some games, because of our needs and his versatility, he has played in different positions, but this is his natural position and he was really good.”
So is Nordtveit happy at West Ham? “Absolutely,” he said.
I imagine he was a lot better after this performance.