Grant blames Gallacher errors for defeat

CHRIS LAKEY Peter Grant lay the blame for Norwich City's defeat at Southampton firmly at the door of goalkeeper Paul Gallacher.


Peter Grant lay the blame for Norwich City's defeat at Southampton firmly at the door of goalkeeper Paul Gallacher.

The City manager said Gallacher was poorly positioned for Saints' equaliser from Gareth Bale's excellent free-kick, and should have prevented the winner, a Kenwyne Jones header from six yards as the match entered its final 15 minutes.

“Gall has been outstanding - it's a good job he has been playing in some games,” said Grant. “But he knows he made mistakes today. Probably he will argue with me for the first one, but he knows he's not to argue with me for the second one.”

The equaliser was actually preceded by some controversy, as Dickson Etuhu was pulled up for a foul on Rudi Skacel when he merely appeared to have brushed past the Saints midfielder. Bale stepped up and, with City still trying to organise their defence, hit a stunning free kick from 30 yards to level matters.

“I thought the position of the goalkeeper could have been better,” said Grant. “I always say when you have somebody of that talent you are better standing in the middle of the goal, I don't care if you can't see it. Stand in the middle of the goals because it makes the area both sides that bit smaller. I think it is common sense. But I have never been a goalkeeper so they'd probably argue with that.”

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Grant said he had warned his players of Bale's ability at free-kicks during their preparations.

“I am disappointed we have given the free kick away because it's one thing I have said, Bale's a wonderful talent, it is something we have guarded against, not giving simple free kicks away because we know he has got that ability to do that,” said Grant.

“It is very unusual, you are talking about a full-back when it is usually strikers you are talking about for their talent at scoring goals, but the young kid has wonderful talent from set-plays.

“I was disappointed with the way we allowed the free kick to be taken quickly, but in saying that it was still fantastic execution. But we have worked on that in training and I am just disappointed we never reacted quickly enough.

“If somebody has that talent, you give them half an inch they'll put it in there and he can do that.”

Grant conceded that City had taken too long to get to grips with the game.

“I thought we went in front against the run of play,” he said. “Southampton got a grip of the game because we did exactly what we said not to do, we started playing the ball square and giving them a chance to break things up and break on to us.

“I thought we looked very, very open in that early period of the game. Southampton, I think, will feel hard done by in that period when we went one up. I thought the longer the game went on we understood exactly what we are trying to do.

“The team play that we had put together during the week, we started to do that properly and we looked a better side for it. We got into the game and yet again we lost a goal at a bad, bad time.”

At 2-1 down, City against threw everything at Southampton, Grant rearranging his pack and throwing men forward - in much the same way as he tried to rescue something from the same scoreline seven days earlier at home to Sheffield Wednesday.

“It was the same last week - we can dominate for those periods,” he said. “I have asked the players to be braver. I think we just look an ordinary side when we have not got possession of the ball. We look out of sorts, we don't know what to do defensively as a group, and we leave it to too many people to do their individual jobs.

“I think the easiest part of football is defending as a group, I think the hardest part is creating, making opportunities. We seem to have it the wrong way round.”

Grant did see some positives, including the return of Gary Doherty, Craig Fleming and Lee Croft from injury.

“We have a couple of boys who have been out five, six, seven, eight weeks coming back into the group and if we can keep them all available it gives me a fantastic opportunity to change the team and put out a team that is going to be brave enough to win games of football, and at this moment in time I don't think we are doing that.”

Croft was back after missing eight games with ankle ligament problems, coming on as a 55th-minute replacement for Jurgen Colin.

“He did terrific,” said Grant. “It was a difficult choice before the game. He has trained three days now and he's been out six or seven weeks. To ask him to go out and play today, especially against someone like Bale who likes to bomb on, you have to track him back and chase and chase and chase - I think that would have been unfair on him.

“But in that period of the game when he came on he had a big influence in the game. He is a big, big player for us. He has played in the Premier League and he shows he has the ability to do that.”