Alex Neil’s men answer Norwich City’s critics with a festive surge
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Alex Neil is happy for Norwich City’s doubters to keep writing off his squad after a 1-0 Premier League win over 10-man Southampton sealed a festive spell to savour.
City claimed nine points from the 12 available after Alex Tettey’s superb rising strike beat Saints’ keeper Maarten Stekelenburg four minutes after Victor Wanyama had picked up a second yellow card. Norwich’s second consecutive home win moved then six points clear of the bottom three.
“I am over-the-moon with the boys because when difficult questions are being posed about them and me the best way to respond is to win games,” said Neil “Southampton showed what they are capable of beating Arsenal 4-0 over Christmas, but we have won two games and kept two clean sheets so there are a lot of positives to take.”
Vadis Odjidja’s renaissance appears another festive fringe benefit, with the Belgian international pressing his claims for greater involvement in a vital second-half cameo that included a key assist for Tettey’s strike.
“He merits all the game-time he is getting now. I said to him afterwards I thought he had a real impact and helped us get the three points,” said Neil. “The problem Vadis has is he is competing with Wes (Hoolahan) and competing with Nathan (Redmond), who have been two of our key players since I have been here, but certainly on his showing here and at Spurs he has a lot to offer this club.
“Vadis gave us that injection of quality and creativity and he has been like that for the last month when he has been training and in the games he has been involved. Through all the time when he has not been playing his attitude has been great, he is a really hard worker and a nice lad.”
Odjidja was also the Norwich man felled by Wanyama in the incident that sparked his dismissal.
“I don’t think it changed the game because up until that point I felt we had the best opportunities,” said Neil. “If you had seen me at the side of the pitch I was in the process of putting another striker on to really go and force the issue but thankfully we scored in that period. I was about to put Cameron on and go two up top so that was a double whammy for Southampton, to get the man sent off and then lose the goal.
“We were the more dangerous team. They didn’t have a great deal of opportunities. The one chance they had, Declan (Rudd) saves from Shane Long when he is offside. I have seen the footage back and our defenders were appealing for offside. We looked a bit nervous towards the end but that is just how much the three points meant to the group. They put enormous effort in.