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Alex Neil adamant Russell Martin should not be a Norwich City scapegoat

06:15 02 February 2016

Norwich City captain Russell Martin has the backing of Alex Neil. 
Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City captain Russell Martin has the backing of Alex Neil. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222

Russell Martin should not be the scapegoat for the Canaries’ recent struggles, insists Norwich City boss Alex Neil.

City lost three Premier League games and slipped out of the FA Cup to Manchester City after ringing in 2016 with a league win over Southampton.

Martin’s errant back pass in the 5-4 top flight defeat to Liverpool at Carrow Road last time out was predictably highlighted after the skipper was preferred to Ryan Bennett and Timm Klose alongside Seb Bassong in central defence.

“It is unfair to single out any individual,” said Neil. “Russell made an error in terms of the back pass, however, there was another four goals we conceded on the back of that. What happens is there are always favourites and fall guys in any squad. Unfortunately for whatever reason what you tend to find is guys who have been there for a long time and served the club well sometimes seem to bear the brunt of that and in Russell’s case it is unfair.”

Martin was part of a City defence left exposed in a brutal finish to a bizarre Premier League game.

“You need to give your front players an opportunity to win the game and the only way you do that is by being aggressive and taking it to the opposition,” said Neil. “But in the same sense you have to be capable of keeping the door shut and giving the lads at the back enough protection so they are not exposed.

“We got one part right against Liverpool, the other, not quite right on the day.”

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55 comments

  • It's glarringly obvious to me that Tommy is perfect. After all, he wouldn't kick through the back of a seat. Most people would. Happens all the time.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • I've been a real Russell Martin fan in the past, and I believe he's a really nice guy. However, it's painful to watch the opposition run rings round him these days. He's just not Premiership quality any more I'm afraid, we can't let sentimentality get in the way of this fact. Sorry but he needs dropping for the good of the club.

    Report this comment

    bogbog

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • AN is being very stubborn. Martin is the one who deserves to be dropped for his poor performances not because he's being made a scapegoat.

    Report this comment

    VictorM

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • What team will Neil pick. Close with Bassong or Bennett centre backs Martin and Brady outside midfielders Olson back at left back Naismith with Mbokani What do others think

    Report this comment

    Barry from Spain

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Anyone who boots thru a seat should be slung out. End of.

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Whether he's dropped as a scapegoat or not his level of performance is not good enough, on the bench as cover if he's lucky. Howson or Tettey as Captain. OTBC

    Report this comment

    kevin

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • There we are Tommy....you've proved you can do it if you put your mind to it. ie, make a reasoned, cohesive point, as opposed to snide remarks and gibberish. Why didn't you do that in the first place, rather than some silly incinuation that those who do not agree with you are 'disloyal, so-called fans ' ? For the record, I'd say that RM is certainly worth a place on the bench tonight , if for no other reason that he is adaptable, and always gives 100%. Anyway, we'll know the answer in less than 3 hrs !

    Report this comment

    Rick

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • I think, el dingo, like the majority, Russ has given Alex a decision to make NOW we have apparent alternative replacements. I don't expect him to play. I will be right behind him should he play and every other moment he turns out for NCFC. Unlike others, and I witnessed this last week, I won't kick a hole in the seat in front of me should a player be unfortunate to make a glarring mistake. Sensible and rational comment me thinks. OTBC

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Waclor - definitely one of your better postings. Agree with our Manager that RM should not be a scapegoat, but on the other hand he shouldn't be our centre back either.

    Report this comment

    kenfoggo

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • It is not a case of making Martin a scapegoat; simply that he has justified criticism on more than a few occasions this season. Brady ditto against Liverpool and at other times this season Howson and a number of others. Fans have always heaped praise and criticism on players in equal or unequal measures. It is part and parcel of the game and always has been thus. Used to be done in the pub bars. Now it is also on social media etc. It goes with the territory with all high profile individuals. So I suggest we shouldn't get too excited or sore about it.

    Report this comment

    malaga flier

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • And as for the RM debate, I'm keeping well out of it. Lovely man, great servant to the Club sure. Essential squad member? sure. In the side tonight? Hope not. What do you think Tommy?

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Tommy: you're being childish again, you naughty chap.

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Waclor: your best yet. By a country mile. No sycophancy, just perceived fact.

    Report this comment

    el dingo

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Waclor, for the risk of repeating myself, please read my previous post "find somewhere where I've said Russ is or isn't Premier League class . . . . . . I've backed him because he's an NCFC asset and gets selected by a professional that has more intellect when it comes to footballing matters than all us supporters put together" . . . . . el dingo would have replied K.N.O.B, which he did to me on one occasion. I wouldn't stoop SO low. Opinion respected OTBC

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Hallelujah Tommy I have seen the light. We're all wrong. Russell Martin is the best Centre back since Bobby Moore, Sadam Hussain did have weapons of mass destruction, Father Christmas is real, David Cameron has turned around Britain's relationship with the EU, the world is flat, all voting in the Eurovision Song Contest is purely on the merits of the songs, there is no corruption in world football, Jeremy Corbyn would make a great Prime Minister, my dog can speak French, beating ones private parts with a large stick is very nice, Rabby Burns was Dutch and Ken Dodd loves paying income tax. I have been so blind but now I can see. Thank you Tommy.

    Report this comment

    waclor

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • I don't think he will play him NCFCyellowman. Hoppy makes a good point about Pinto on an earlier post. He can't reasonably be left out after one game. Klose must start in my opinion so unless he moves him to left back....

    Report this comment

    Trucker

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • 'Russell Martin shouldn't be used as a scapegoat' says City boss Alex Neil. Oh my gawd, he's going to play him isn't he? Give me strength...

    Report this comment

    ncfcyellowman

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • In the main I really love what AN has achieved since coming to NCFC. Reading some of his soundbites, as faithfully (one hopes) reported by Archie, I can't help thinking he'd be better advised leaving the technical area to somebody taller. Watch it from about 15 rows back Alex - we can't ALL be wrong!

    Report this comment

    whereareyou

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • All human action is the product of a blind, insatiable and malignant metaphysical will. ??

    Report this comment

    kenfoggo

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Wivenhoe, if only Wee Gordon had a time MacHine - he could've gone back and got Big Dunc in his prime, or Malky Mackay.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Re the Scottish thing and Russ Martin as a centre back for them .Just have a look at the alternatives playing in Scotland and then try to find other Scots playing in that position for premiership or championship teams. Its an awful choice so I can see why Strachan tried converting a full back.Didnt mean we had to as well though.

    Report this comment

    wivenhoebudgie

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Tried to reply to Rick and once more to MichiCan, but no luck.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • @nmtd, the optimism of the staunch NCFC fan is truly a wonder to behold. It should be bottled, like Dubya's Pollyanna Potion! Now there's a role model; Dubya. Ever over-optimistic and always ultra-loyal but never totalitarian. In the years of bantering with him, he's never gotten nasty or taken anything personally. I bet he's a really nice bloke. Where are you Dubya? Your Sunn i disposition is sorely missed. Rick makes a valid point as politely as is reasonably possible.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Hi MB. I did respond saying it was not a malicious hack, but on that occasion it was not me asking for Delia's departure. Think it might have been one of the many Custard posters trying to stir things up.

    Report this comment

    MichiganCanary

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • As I have said on this site before Russ Martin is a top fella and bleeds yellow and green, BUT he has cost us several points this season either through basic mistakes, bad positioning poor play and therefore must not be allowed near the central defence period!

    Report this comment

    repsol

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • As I have said on this site before Russ Martin is a top fella and bleeds yellow and green, BUT he has cost us several points this season either through basic mistakes, bad positioning poor play and therefore must not be allowed near the central defence period!

    Report this comment

    repsol

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • @MichiCan; I'm glad you're about. I tried to assure you that it was not me that replied to your "message that wasn't" on the recent live transfer deadline item. A few people seem to have been victim of posts being falsely placed using their monickers. Be assured, despite all our Corner Shop and Greenbacks banter, it is all meant to be in fun.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • No axe to grind with RM, I think everyone appreciates the part he has played but unfortunately it is time to move on. It is clear that he cannot start in the centre of defence tonight, I just hope that AN is not so stubborn that he plays him at right back as this would send the wrong message to Pinto after making his debut. Onwards and Upwards! OTBC!

    Report this comment

    Hoppy

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • I really don't see the problem with extreme views either side of the argument. It's rather like politics or being a royalist. You'll never sway someone to consider switching allegiance. Accept the extremes, but be supportive of the players and club as a whole. You can't agree with a view of 'never wearing the shirt again'. Not really. These are current players on the payroll doing the best they possibly can. Nobody crosses that white line to disappoint. For the record I love the optimism of the staunch NCFC forever gang, likewise those that believe the club just never does quite enough and all the humour inbetween whether schoolboy stuff or not. It's all entertainment in the day to day life of Little Ole Norwich. The End

    Report this comment

    nevermindthedanger

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Rick. Well said. Certain people who have no real views of their own just come on here to criticize and be rude to others, as opposed to offering well thought out alternative thoughts.

    Report this comment

    MichiganCanary

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Well, TGWS of course there will be a bit of vitriol on here as long as Tommy et al continue to put forward all this 'disloyaltynot a true supporter' drivel in response to anyone who has the temerity to air a view that is at odds with his or the party line. He is entitled to his view about RM, as, to be fair are those who'd rather not see him in a yellow shirt again. Me....well I'm somewhere between the two. I've been the first to praise Russ for his contribution to the NCFC cause over the years. I just do not happen to believe that he is anywhere near the first choice CB at the club these days. That is not making him a scapegoat...merely putting a perfectly reasonable view forward, and Tommy should respect it as such, without all the silly name-calling.

    Report this comment

    Rick

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • It's not just that dumb back pass AN, it's the other 90 minutes and all the frailties listed by other posters. Also, it's nonsense to suggest fans choose a long-serving player as scapegoat! Indeed quite the reverse is generally true. eg., fans lamenting the loss of Holt, even when he was overweight and passed his 'sell by' date. IMHO, AN was to blame for presumably making a scapegoat of Ryan B??? of choosing Dorrans ahead of Mulumbu to replace Tettey, of failing to recognise failures against Stoke and Bournemouth were down to O'Neil, and noone else, of not picking a settled team to build understanding, etc, etc.

    Report this comment

    Reg Breeze

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • hi tommy,i think rain is correct,not as a noun ,but a verb ie ,pour, as to you not being able to advise,i feel you may be a tad sheepish in this matter.perhaps not wishing to embarrass us, by exposing your knowledge and experience gained over many years. As such i will put my questions on my bucket list,to confront young Alex before i pass on.

    Report this comment

    dis dressed

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • There's more regurgitation on here than Stevie Starr can shake a stick at ! New comments most welcome and appreciated (Vizz's top tip would be if it wasn't recognised initially, it probably wasn't noteworthy of any comment) Also, save money on expensive hair gel, use cheap marmalade instead. Beware of wasps in the summer though !

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • MB, hedgehog's dilemma. A prickly subject yes. Perhaps RM should hibernate across the winter months?

    Report this comment

    ToxicGasWarningSystem

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • This comment from AN really worries me although I appreciate he has to be political in his comments. If Russ plays tonight, the skills that Spurs offer will expose once again why RM is totally out of his depth. Forget his past dubious exploits, we are one place off the drop because or weak players like Russ continually getting picked. Scotland is a smokescreen, they are an international equivalent of City. Don't forget that Whitts gets a game for them!

    Report this comment

    A fine city

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • TGWS; it's not so much vitriol as Arthur Schopenhauer Syndrome.

    Report this comment

    Mad Brewer

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • I tend to come away from matches giving Martin a 5, sometimes a 6 occasionally a 4. Not a player who quickens the pulse. But he is constantly blocking shots, playing the offside and making other non-flashy contributions. So I'm OK with him as a sub for the rest of the season, and defo not in the "never pull on the shirt" camp.

    Report this comment

    Pierre

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • A lot of vitriol on here this morning. OTBC, yes SB is statistically our best defender, also our most experienced at this level. I would definitely not drop him, actually is it just me, or does he seem more nervous when RM is alongside him? As for RM, the other posters here have it, he ball watches and does not track back, just watch the highlights from the goals conceded this year. I'm don't think RM will play tonight, this article is just a rehash of one from about 9 days ago. It seems that with the Mekon if you make a glaring mistake then that's it, out with the washing. I hope I'm right.

    Report this comment

    ToxicGasWarningSystem

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Don't ask me dissy, I'm not the manager. I just support 11 guys wearing yellow (and pink) that play on a lush green pitch. Nice you think you can seek my advice though. I'm honoured. Is "rain" the right word? I don't now! ^⨀ᴥ⨀^

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Kenny, dear chap. I'll think you'll find Seb is statistically our best performing defender when it comes down to duals won, pass accuracy etc. You just have no bone in your body that understands any compassion and wrongly will discriminate against the guy for the rest of your days. 23 appearances with 2 costly errors, that's all. He didn't drown your cat !

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • instead of whingeing to the fans ,i would like Mr Neil to just explain why Martin was best suited to mark Firmini ?rather than Bennett,. Or perhaps young custard can tell me,is Martin Quicker ?is he stronger,a better tackler,reads the game better,does not ball watch,a better header of the ball,can recover more quickly,can lead ? Or perhaps he just has charisma,,,i must be an imbecile,and will wear the cap,as i think the answers are all no ? As for playing right back,as i am sure he will tonight,just see how much room he gives the winger,,i`d say 10 yards is too much,allowing centres to rain in at will

    Report this comment

    dis dressed

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • I have ALWAYS said that Bassong is a liability and not Premier quality. This is now being demonstrated on a regular basis; I would quite happily make HIM a scapegoat for 50 per cent of goals conceded. Russell Martin has been a magnificent servant to the Club and would not wish him to be vilified on these sites, but even the most ardent City supporter must now realise that his time at this level has now passed. Picking him again for tonight's battle would be a huge error in my humble.

    Report this comment

    kenfoggo

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • It is not a question of " scapegoats" Martin and Bassong are just not good enough for the PL. They neither have the ability to compete regularly at this level nor the speed of thought and moving to cope at this level They are loyal but not good enough to help keep us in the PL. Loyalty is good but it is fazing AN`s team choices. He has`nt had many choices for centre backs, but Bennett is certainly much better than these two. If AN is to be successful, he needs to shed this weakness and chose the best players he has and get a solid back four to save the drop.

    Report this comment

    willb

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Tommy, no one can argue with your twist on words and certainly Strachan see's RM as a centre back. I agree that as I never made it as a top manager, or coach come to that despite playing, managing and coaching at a reasonable level, including down under, AN has achieved far more than me. However, RM has too many faults when playing centre back including ball watching rather than tracking his man and does not control his back four as a captain, something I see Bennett doing regularly. That said, I still think RM is as good as any of the other right backs we have seen this season, the biggest problem they have all faced is lack of support from the winger in front of them as Redmond fails to track back and Howson when played there also fails to do so at times. Only AN knows how Klose is shaping up but I hope to see him tonight, together with Tettey in holding midfield. I would go with Bennett as the second centre half but would not throw the dummy out of the pram if he goes with Bassong, Olsson at left back and Martin to the right. I cannot see him dropping his captain after saying the above but that would be a sensible compromise for me.

    Report this comment

    TrevorKeith

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • I totally agree with AN comments here . Football fans can be shallow & have short memories. Don't forget Russell Martin will prove invaluable to us next season if we did face the drop. It's obvious though in the Premier anyhow he best serves us at fullback . The frustration from city fans is really the fact we should have strengthened the central defence ages ago .

    Report this comment

    spark

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Mixed feelings about this topic. I never like to see our players criticised. We all know he made a mistake last game but I'm not going to hang him out to dry for that. Russell is a good and loyal servant to this club and as such deserves support and encouragement. I'll be there tonight and if he features then he'll get my full support as will all the players regardless of the result. What I do need to see though is 100% effort every game, players showing how much it means to wear the yellow and green. I think a win is possible over Spurs. It won't be easy but it is possible!!

    Report this comment

    Trucker

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Rick, mate, find somewhere where I've said Russ is or isn't Premier League class . . . . . . I've backed him because he's an NCFC asset and gets selected by a professional that has more intellect when it comes to footballing matters than all us supporters put together. Anyone who thinks he should never wear the yellow or green ever again is deluded, and a discriminatory fool. As for "true fans" . . . . good luck with that. See you at The Villa !

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • More blind faith from Old Tommy. It's horses for courses, mate. RM is, just maybe, a CB of sufficient quality for the Champ or below. But a Prem standard CH he aint. Never has been and never will be. So, it's nothing to do with being a loyal supporter. Most of us know that, because of lack of strength in depth,poor form, injuries etc, there have been times that AN has more or less had to pick Russ at CB. BUT...that no longer applies. So, just cut out all this 'treachery' stuff, eh ? We, the true fans want to see AN pick the strongest team he can, one that will be capable of winning football matches, not sentiment.

    Report this comment

    Rick

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • The fact that he's been playing at CB for quite a few seasons actually proves Russ IS a CB and 99% of the posters on here are factually incorrect. Of course, Alex is wrong, of course Neil was wrong, of course Chrissy was wrong, Strachan too. You all are more professionally briefed than these guys? Pitiful excuse for so-called 'fans'. See you all at The Villa . . . . . not !

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • ’’›(Ͼ˳Ͽ)‹’’ Really JimBob. I wouldn't want you backing us up in the trenches ! Jeez ! ’’›(Ͼ˳Ͽ)‹’’ Thought this was a supporters forum . . . . ho-hum !

    Report this comment

    Ole Tommy Buster Custard

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • RM is a true Norwich legend and has sweat blood for the club. A lot of fans would do well to remember that but he is not and never will be a centre half. I blame the team selection for the way he's been exposed on several occassions. I think he will be a bit part player for the rest of the season but that's just part of the game and every player left out is a chance for someone else. OTBC

    Report this comment

    b arclay

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Alex, scapegoat or not, it's your fault he gets berated by fans as you are the one who blindly keeps sticking him in at centre back where, it's quite apparent to everyone else, it's just not his position! I will be amazed if he is not dropped for tonight's game, which would suggest that the fans are not the only ones to have made him scapegoat!!

    Report this comment

    JOROBIT

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • The fans have been telling these so called footballing experts for 3 seasons he is not a CB, hence the finger pointing. Stop listening to Strachan and look after our club instead. I never want to see him at CB in yellow and green again and only at RB in an emergency.

    Report this comment

    JimBob

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

  • Maybe he shouldn't be a scapegoat but he definitely shouldn't be a centre back. We now have enough players who are meant to play in that position. Not sure what it will mean longer term for RM who has been a great servant to the club. We now have the team that AN built. Tonight will be a good indicator of his plan for the rest of the season

    Report this comment

    Winger63

    Tuesday, February 2, 2016

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