John Ruddy speaks up over his toughest patch at Norwich City and what the future should hold for manager Alex Neil following their Championship defeat at QPR

John Ruddy barks instructions on his return to Championship duty for Norwich City at Loftus Road. Pi

John Ruddy barks instructions on his return to Championship duty for Norwich City at Loftus Road. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

John Ruddy admitted Norwich City are in the toughest spell of his seven years at the club.

Saturday's defeat at Queens Park Rangers was the Canaries' fourth successive Championship loss and heaped ever-more pressure on manager Alex Neil, as City slipped to sixth in the table.

'Absolutely it's the hardest spell I've had here as a player here, and it's really disheartening because I have got a lot of affection for this club,' said Ruddy, who returned to league action for the first time since injury in August, at Loftus Road.

'It's given me a lot. Norwich is my home. My family are growing up there and it's a wonderful place to live – and this is probably the biggest blip we've had in the seven seasons I've been here.

'But it's about making sure we're working together, trying to rectify mistakes and ultimately picking up the results we know we can.'

As for Alex Neil's future, Ruddy added: 'I enjoy working with the manager. Tactically I think he's very good, and those sort of decisions are out of my hands.

'When I'm picked and if I'm picked like I was here, ultimately I want to do the best I can do for him and for the rest of the team, and obviously for the fans and for the club

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'Those decisions aren't for me to make. All I can say is I enjoy working with him.'

The City supporters have been reasonably restrained in being collectively critical of their players – but they found Ruddy echoing their sentiments following that fourth successive league defeat.

Maybe more damaging was the fact it was number six for the season – in game number 17. All of a sudden City's points per game ratio is threatening to dip below a total to reach the top six come May, never mind automatic promotion.

Only Rotherham and Wolves are currently in worse form – and it feels like it.

'It's not just here – results don't lie, we've lost four in a row and regardless of who's on the pitch, that's not good enough,' said the City keeper, back as number one after three months playing second fiddle to Michael McGovern.

'We know that and we are the only ones who can rectify it. It's about rolling our sleeves up now and getting down to work, showing the application and character we did in the second half. We need to show that from whistle one, and if we do that then because of the quality we've got we will pick up results.

'And you know, it's another fantastic following from the away crowd here. They're vocal throughout the game in a supportive manner and we appreciate their support.

'But now it's about time we start putting the performances together. That second half was the start of what we need to do – and we need to make sure we carry that on.'

Ruddy's bullish words are right – but such sentiments haven't been matched by efforts on the pitch in recent weeks and that is a real problem – much like going down to 10 men after three minutes.

'I don't think I've ever been involved in a start like that,' added Ruddy. 'I think Martin (Olsson) is very unlucky to be sent off. We could've had a foul ourselves.

'We worked a lot this week on our shape and keeping solid, defending in units. But when an incident like that happens so early, all that goes out of the window.

'We had a game plan to press them and really play high up the pitch – then you lose a man in the first minute, it makes that difficult.'

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