You are never going to please everyone all of the time, as Joao Carvalho has found out in his debut season at Nottingham Forest.

The Portuguese had offered enough while at Benfica to catch the eye of Aitor Karanka.

He then persuaded the Reds board to part with a club-record £13 million transfer fee.

So far, so good.

Everyone is happy.

Carvalho enjoyed a bright enough start to his time at the City Ground, registering the odd goal and a flurry of assists.

Then, the wheels started to fall off.

Karanka jumped/was pushed and another change was made in the dugout.

Enter Martin O’Neill.

Exit Carvalho from the starting XI.

The 22-year-old became a very expensive benchwarmer for a while.


(Photo by Jon Hobley/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Minutes were in short supply, despite the seemingly endless calls for his inclusion.

No-one was happy.

There has been a thawing in the frosty relationship between bench and terrace over recent weeks.

Carvalho has been reintroduced to the fold.

A stunning performance was put in against Middlesbrough, before claiming another assist against QPR.

Back-to-back wins!

Including one away from home!

Unheard of.

‘We told you so’ cried the Forest faithful, with many suggesting that an inability to secure a top-six finish can be rested solely on the decision not to give Carvalho more outings.

That is far too simplistic.

Even those making said calls probably acknowledge as much.

Frustration has boiled over at times, though, and scapegoats sought.

That is fine, we have all pulled through it.

A few are happy.

Including Carvalho, who has said in the official matchday programme: “I want to score more and assist more and I want to beat all my personal records next season.

“This season has been a good season but I want to do better. I know I can do it so I hope I will play more and get more goals and assists to help the team.”



So, he’s sticking around then.

And wanting to better himself is a welcome, if fairly obvious target.

He should, however, be aiming much higher than merely topping his numbers from 2018-19.

In an ideal world, he will smash them out of the park.

With one game to go, his current return stands at four goals and eight assists.

Useful, given he was overlooked for a while, but not spectacular.

Looking elsewhere in the Championship, there are plenty of others who should be setting the benchmark for Carvalho.

Pablo Hernandez has 12 goals and as many assists at Leeds, Kamil Grosicki nine and 12 with Hull City, Conor Hourihane seven and 10 at Aston Villa and Said Benraham 10 goals and 14 assists with Brentford.

In other words, Carvalho should be looking to double his output in 2019-20 at the very least.

He will, of course, require a prominent role under O’Neill in order to achieve that.

Should he be granted that wish, then universal happiness will return to the banks of the Trent.

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