To tinker or not to tinker? That is the question for Norwich City boss Alex Neil

Norwich City manager Alex Neil. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City manager Alex Neil. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited +447814 482222

If a week is a long time in politics, then 48 hours were certainly a long time for Norwich City and the club’s fans.

Of the week...

Declan was ray of light on dark day

HERO OF THE WEEK: It was a day to forget for the Canaries at Vicarage Road. Most players were well short of their best. The one bright spot was Declan Rudd, who gave a very good account of himself and rewarded Alex Neil’s faith in him. He rose to the challenge and will now be hard to drop.

Come on, Arsene, get a sense of perspective

VILLAIN OF THE WEEK: I have always had a lot of time for Arsene Wenger. But I think the Gunners’ boss was well over the top in claiming Alexis Sanchez could have been killed when he fell in a camera pit at Carrow Road. His language was unnecessarily inflammatory.

Getting a home draw was a rare highlight

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK: This is a clutching straws kind of week when it comes to positives. I guess getting a home tie in the FA Cup is something to be pleased about. I cheered when our ball came out first and as I explain more at the bottom of the column, I think Man City is a good challenge.

Hucks is always such good value on Twitter

FUNNIEST MOMENT OF THE WEEK: Laughs were as rare as highlights for City fans this week. So thanks to Mr Huckerby for cheering us up with his humour on Twitter. The family Christmas tree, his festive song and Jamie Cureton were among his amusing subjects.

Rom to score and City to get share of spoils

PREDICTION OF THE WEEK: Romelu Lukaku will arrive at Carrow Road as one of the hottest properties in the top flight. He can’t stop scoring and I tip him to net to make it seven goals in eight games. But he won’t be a winner and I think City will get a point.

Before kick-off at Watford, things were looking pretty positive.

The Canaries had performed very well, especially in the second half, against Arsenal and should have won.

We beat Watford 6-0 on aggregate last year and most of us were confident of a decent result down there.

Our rivals had tough games – Bournemouth at Chelsea, Villa at Southampton, Newcastle against in-form Liverpool, and Sunderland at the Emirates.

Inexplicably City didn’t turn up and we know how those other games went.

Then came the sudden departure of chairman Alan Bowkett.

The mood of the fans suddenly shifted. A lot of the doubts which had been muttered were being voiced much more audibly.

Half full quickly became half empty.

Of course it is still early days – but with trips to Old Trafford and White Hart Lane looming, we need points fast.

We need positive signs – and need them quickly.

One issue which has been picked on by many supporters is Alex Neil’s increasing tendency to tinker with the team.

In the first five games of the season, there were 15 starters, with only one enforced change in the back line.

In the subsequent 10 games, Neil has used 20 different starters. What has been even more noticeable than the pure numbers has been the different formations and players slotting in to different positions.

Guessing the starting XI has become a key part of match day lately.

There is, of course, an argument for “horses for courses” and picking the right team to tackle each opposition.

But what about stability? Players must feel more comfortable when they are spending more match time with the same team-mates.

I was gobsmacked to hear some fans calling for Neil’s head after Saturday. He has worked wonders here and I’m confident he can keep us up.

However, I would like to see more cohesion as the tough winter kicks in.


Concentrate on league but cup run too please

After we lost to Everton in the League Cup, I wrote that we should see the positive of being able to concentrate on the league.

I know why I had that view and there’s no doubt that the pot of gold which goes with Premier League survival has to be the number one priority this term.

However, seeing all those snippets of action from the FA Cup ties at the weekend gave me a fresh hunger for success in the greatest domestic knockout tournament in the world.

I’ve been thinking back to 1989 and 1992 and reading again about 1959. What amazing years they were for the Canaries in the cup.

A snap survey of City fans’ verdicts after Monday’s third round draw concluded that Neil’s men will again fall at the first hurdle (and some would be pleased that a “distraction” would be removed).

The more I think about it, the more I believe it is a chance to create a real confidence boost.

Success breeds success and a win over the big boys could be just what we need.

I’d like to see fringe players such as Jamar Loza and Kyle Lafferty given a chance. They should be desperate to impress and hopefully Man City’s minds will be elsewhere.

Also, I’ll make a plea to the club to drop ticket prices (say a tenner for adults and five for kids) to ensure the ground is packed.


  • With none of the strikers performing, why not give Lafferty a go, he cannot score less times than the others. Can watch all City games live on the internet here in Spain, how two halves can be so different against Everton is a mystery.

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    Barry from Spain

    Saturday, December 12, 2015

  • I don't disagree Malaga but the problem with constantly changing individuals positions and roles in the team is that it prevents them from achieving good form. I like Howson as a player but he has not performed to his best lately and I wonder if that is because he is constantly shifted about. Look at other teams in the premiership and you will see changes made from week to week but the core of the team remains the same. When something is not working change it (one up front?) but why did he change the team from the previous game when they had performed so well?

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    Cyprus Canary

    Friday, December 11, 2015

  • Good points , Malaga , I can understand his dilemma but dropping Gary O'Neill wasn't the best thing he's done , but hopefully he'll learn quickly as this league is ruthless , Everton are a tough call , it's against the lesser teams we need to be braver , it wasn't his fault bar Declan the whole team were shite , Or was it otbc

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    Thursday, December 10, 2015

  • It is clear AN has had to tinker because we haven't got the quality needed at this level. What he's therefore been trying to do is mix and match in the hope that certain players will do a better job in given circumstances. However, the stark fact is that this isn't working as borne out by our poor points return to date. But this is not to critics AN because it has been a succession of silly and often inexcusable errors that has cost us vital points. To this end the players have to accept responsibility. Despite the general lack of technical ability and quality in the squad, many of the mistakes are ones you wouldn't expect from any professional footballer. For me this begs a fundamental question: why has more work not been done to rectify these all too frequent errors? Is training putting too much emphasis on systems and statistics and perhaps setting the team up to do more than can be expected of it? Doing the basic and simple things well would go a long way to improve our situation.

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    malaga flier

    Thursday, December 10, 2015

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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