Norwich City are right in the relegation fight but Alex Neil is the man to pull them clear

Lewis Grabban was ineffective against Watfords back four at Vicarage Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/

Lewis Grabban was ineffective against Watfords back four at Vicarage Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Canaries columnist Jon Punt believes defeat at Watford confirmed the club is in a fight for Premier League survival but feels Alex Neil is the man to take on the challenge.

The enigma that is Norwich City produced a total no-show at Vicarage Road.

Dress it up how you want, but there were very few positives to take from the proverbial bad day at the office in north-west London.

Lewis Grabban's weekly transition between hero and zero saw him billed as the latter this time out and even this season's stand-out players failed to turn up.

And so the roller coaster of the Premier League continues. Most walking away from Carrow Road after the Arsenal game will have been filled with confidence in that our recent robust displays against the 'big boys' had finally yielded a point.


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Fast forward six days and suddenly the doom merchants have us down as certainties for the drop.

The only consistency for City in the Premier League is the inconsistency in the way we're left feeling after our weekend's exploits.

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So let's get this into perspective. We're in a relegation dogfight which in all honesty I thought we would avoid.

There's no doubt things are going to get fraught, the unforgiving nature of this league will mean there are a few more darker days to come.

If you want to go and hide in a big hole somewhere until this is all over I'm sure Ryan Bennett will be happy to give you a little nudge on your way down.

But now is the time for us to stand up and be counted. The verve and fluency with which we started the campaign seems like a lifetime ago, yet we have to trust Alex Neil will get this right.

He's made brave decisions when required, not least in benching both the club's captain and a number one who have served us so ably over the last few years. I'd back him to make even better and braver decisions between now and the end of the season.

The challenge for Neil is huge. Our form is a worry, even when taking into account the quality of opposition we've faced of late.

My view would be to revert back to the offensive and crisp passing style which served us well during August and September.

Our propensity for making individual errors at the back seems unlikely to be eradicated, thus increasing the need to get on the front foot in the winnable games to come.

And of course a fit Wes Hoolahan would help too. Points on the board between now and the transfer window could be key to attracting our top targets come January 1.

The club recently disclosed to shareholders at their AGM the total football budget for this year is estimated at around £82million.

Those that know me will attest to the fact I'm no accountant, but even using my rudimentary numeracy skills leads me to believe we must have a significant war chest following our modest spend over the summer.

Most of the key personnel we brought in during the last window have impressed to lesser or greater degrees so far, Brady being the jewel in the crown.

Given his relatively decent recruitment record let's hope Neil gets the players he wants through the door sooner rather than later.

Matches and subsequently seasons are usually decided by fine margins, that extra bit of quality in any position could just be the precious difference between us and the dreaded drop zone come May.

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