Alex Neil is Norwich City’s changing man
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil aims to keep one step ahead of Norwich's Championship promotion rivals after shuffling his pack again to eclipse Watford at Vicarage Road.
Nathan Redmond had been an ever-present under the new City chief and Gary Hooper was the preferred foil for Lewis Grabban in recent times, but both had to settle for late cameos in a new-look formation unveiled against the Hornets.
Grabban struck twice while Cameron Jerome and Wes Hoolahan were both influential after being restored to the starting line up. Jerome lifted an instinctive shot over the stranded Heurelho Gomes following Hoolahan's initial burst, just minutes after the Irishman was awarded a penalty slotted by Grabban.
'I think what you have to try and do is field a team that suits the game. That is what I have been doing since I came here,' said Neil. 'I felt with Wes and his trickery and Cameron's power and strength up top that was a combination which would cause Watford problems. Thankfully for me it proved to be the case but ultimately it is about the guys performing on the pitch and the two coming in who had not featured have done themselves justice. They were excellent.
'I have a full squad of good players, it is not a starting XI, and one thing I will do is change it and look at the systems we are facing. This was the first time I put two right up top because of who we were playing against. Watford are unique in that respect. You have to be organised, you have to have a plan and I thought ours worked perfectly. I had that discussion with the two players I left out and made it clear it was nothing to do with form.'
Neil reserved praise for a backline who kept a fourth clean sheet in the last five, with Russell Martin and Seb Bassong dominating their personal duel against Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo.
'I thought the two centre backs were fantastic but Alex (Tettey) did a great job in front protecting and screening. To be honest, credit should go to the whole team,' said Neil. 'When I first came in I wanted that solid base and we certainly have that now but we also have the quality at the top end that if we do create chances we can punish others.
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'I think when you play the top sides, especially away from home, the one thing you try and do is keep it tight and make yourself hard to beat. If you can try and nick something, then great, but if you go too expansive then I think you can make your own problems.
'You certainly can't do that against Watford, who have a lot of goals in the team, but I thought we limited them to very little which was great for us defensively.'