‘I have two promotions on my CV. The last thing I want to do is go back to the Championship,’ says Alex Neil after Norwich City’s 2-0 Premier League defeat at Aston Villa
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil challenged his under-performing Norwich City players to prove they are good enough for the Premier League after slipping into the bottom three following a 2-0 defeat at relegation rivals Aston Villa.
Joleon Lescott and Gabby Agbonlahor cashed in on more defensive charity from the Canaries to pick up only a second home league win at Villa Park this season.
Norwich have now lost five on the spin, and exited the FA Cup at the first stage, since beating Southampton on January 2, and Neil needs no lectures on the gravity of the situation facing him and his squad.
'I have two promotions on my CV and the last thing I want to do is go back to the Championship,' he said. 'It is not a trial for me. This is the situation, you have to make the most of it. I am extremely disappointed. I have been working hard to get us into a better place and unfortunately at the moment we are not doing that. All you can is prepare the players as best as you can and hope the players provide the quality on the pitch.
'These boys are Premier League footballers. If you want to stay in the league you shouldn't need building up. That should be your motivation right there. We worked so hard last year for this opportunity and no-one wants to feel the pain of relegation.'
Seb Bassong spurned a gilt-edged chance to nudge Norwich in front before Lescott headed home from close range in an even opening period. Agbonlahor then made the most of Declan Rudd's decision to race from his goal in a failed attempt to cut out Ashley Westwood's pass early in the second half.
'We had opportunities in the match,' said Neil. 'Seb had a good chance with a header he should have done better with, but I think the story of the game for us is if you are not going to defend your box well enough you get punished. The first one is a set piece and the second one is just another mistake in judgement and we concede the second goal and that is always going to be tough.
'We threw caution to the win, put a lot of attacking players on and had good chances around their box, but ultimately it wasn't enough. Until we went 2-0 down we didn't show enough. If Seb scores the header then the game changes, it gives us some momentum and confidence.
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'In these type of games, with the pressure that is on them, they are decided on fine margins. I am sure Aston Villa have played better and lost. We have certainly played not as good as today and won. It is critical moments where you take a chance or don't concede one. We didn't look under pressure at any stage.'