Nottingham Forest midfielder Pelé made a good impression in his debut against Hull City at the weekend.
Martin O’Neill opted to give him the nod in the starting line-up ahead of Ben Watson.
It’s fair to say that it was the correct decision. The 27-year-old produced a very impressive performance at the City Ground.
Considering he hadn’t played since 9 January, his performance was even more commendable. After making a shaky start against the Tigers, he gradually grew in confidence as the match developed.
The Reds had both Pelé and Jack Colback sat in front of the back four, tidying things up in midfield throughout. This is a key reason why Costel Pantilimon wasn’t really tested until injury time.
Pelé looked far more than just that though. Not only is he physically strong and capable of putting a tackle in, he also has the ability to pick out a pass.
He arguably offers far more to the team than Watson. however, it’s still very early days, and it remains to be seen whether Pelé can produce this level of performance consistently.
He’s already being compared to former Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira and, perhaps more sensibly, ex-Red Guy Moussi.
‘More to come’ from Pelé, says boss
Having thrown him into the starting line-up against the Tigers, O’Neill would’ve been fully aware that it was a gamble. But it was one that paid off.
If Pelé does produce similar performances on a consistent basis, he could play a key role in the Reds potentially gatecrashing the play-offs.
Speaking to the Nottingham Post after the game, O’Neill said: “I thought that Pelé was absolutely outstanding for us.
“That is something that will help us, through the course of the rest of the season.
“That game will bring him on physically, because he had not played in some time, and that performance will help his confidence as well.”
‘He’s like Vieira’
Seat Pitch rounded up exactly what Reds supporters had to say about the midfielder’s performance against the Tigers.
Pele was man of the match #nffc
— shane (@fonforest) March 9, 2019
Some transformation in the second half, played some terrific stuff. Carvalho is just a class act, and what a performance from Pele. He’s a beast, looked like Patrick Vieira out there. The new management have put some real steel in this team. #nffc
— Justin O’Hanlon (@rpdarkhorse) March 9, 2019
— NG18 Tricky Trees (@NG18Trickytrees) March 9, 2019
That Pele has a bit of swagger, will only get better as he gets used to English football, great debut though #nffc
— Wayne Cooper (@waynecoops1981) March 9, 2019
Pele started slowly in the first half, second half was class. Won everything, played some good balls and all round looked solid #nffc
— Gaz Brown (@Gaz23Brown) March 9, 2019
Pele showed he has class and when he’s fully match fit, settled and feels part of the squad, he can be massive for us
— Ed 034 🏆🏆 (@dingdinghopkin) March 9, 2019