Alex Neil aims to solve Norwich City’s clean sheet puzzle

Norwich City manager Alex Neil aims to cut out the cheap goals conceded. Picture by Paul Chesterton/

Norwich City manager Alex Neil aims to cut out the cheap goals conceded. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City's soft centre is turning into a pain for Alex Neil with his Canaries failing to keep a clean sheet for 900 minutes in the Championship.

City had to settle for a point at Fulham after shipping two second-half goals to prolong an unwanted run that now stretches back to the 1-0 victory over Bristol City in August.

'Regardless of whether we are at home or away we are conceding too many goals,' said Neil. 'We need to make sure we stop it and a lot of the time we are on top in games, perhaps not at Fulham, but in general and we are conceding against the run of play. If you want to gain promotion you have to absorb pressure because at times you will not always dominate the ball. We don't defend well enough, we just switch off. Is it concentration? Maybe. It is bad decision-making at crucial moments. Defensively we need to do better as a team and I am not just labelling that at the defence.'

Neil, however, rejected any suggestion City's latest Craven Cottage concessions bore the hallmarks of the recent stoppage time loss at Newcastle United.

'That was completely different because that happened at the end of the game and there were a lot of tired bodies,' he said. 'We showed a lot of energy (at Fulham) after we conceded the second goal. Newcastle, basically they pumped it forward and got a break of the ball at the edge of the box whereas Fulham were moving the ball well.

'If you look at the second goal they scored everything leading up to it was a mistake from us. Graham Dorrans gets the ball, should turn out the other way, but plays a short pass to Martin (Olsson) who doesn't react quickly enough. I think Russell (Martin) is picking up the boy (Chris) Martin and lets him peel off too early and Michael (McGovern) then tries to guard the same side of the goal as Russell and he puts it in the near corner.'

Neil defended his decision to draft Robbie Brady back into the starting line up at Fulham after the Republic of Ireland international had recovered from concussion, with Alex Pritchard making way following an impressive full start in the 3-1 home win against Rotherham.

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'If you look at the game Alex is at his best when we have the ball and we spent a lot of the (Fulham) game without the ball,' said Neil. 'They had two really athletic full-backs who get up and down the pitch so I think Robbie was the right decision and at 2-0 up I don't think many would have disagreed with me but when you start to concede goals then everyone looks at every alternative.

'We didn't have Jonny (Howson) available and he could have certainly helped us in that type of game.'