Mixed emotions for Alex Neil after his Norwich City home bow
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City's new manager Alex Neil can live without the sort of excitement the Canaries served up for his Carrow Road bow in a fraught 3-2 Championship win against Cardiff.
Neil watched his charges batter the Bluebirds for an hour with Gary Hooper, Kyle Lafferty and Cameron Jerome putting them firmly in command and John Ruddy also denying Peter Whittingham from the penalty spot.
Alex Revell's close-range finish followed swiftly by Kadeem Harris' intervention tested the resolve of Neil, his players and the majority inside the stadium after Norwich contrived to squander a position of strength.
'I am sure it was exciting for the neutral but certainly not for me. That is not something I want to repeat if we are winning a game 3-0,' he said. 'It was much more difficult than it should have been. We should have been more professional and seen the game out. Once we conceded that first goal you could see some of the nerves creep in.
'I thought, first half, the display was excellent and I don't just mean the goals, because it is easy to say that at 3-0 up, but the all-round display. I thought defensively we were solid, in the middle of the park we were controlling the ball and there was movement and deliveries from wide areas, particularly from Nathan (Redmond) who was fantastic. I thought we merited our scoreline at half-time. We started reasonably well in the second half but once we conceded it certainly affected it.'
Neil felt Norwich were punished for two lapses of concentration.
'I don't think we were that poor defensively, it wasn't as if they were creating numerous chances but we switched off for two straight balls,' he said. 'The first one is a cross into our box and we switch off at the back post and the second one is just a lump up the park. In terms of defending it should have been bread and butter and clearing our lines.
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'We didn't win the first header and we didn't switch on for the second ball and it cost us two goals. I thought we controlled the game for 60 minutes and we were by far the better side, then a bit of fatigue crept in and our decision-making, particularly defensively, was not what it should have been.'
Neil had warned his squad of the dangers posed by a direct Cardiff side in his pre-match planning.
'We had worked on things on the training ground, we knew all about what they would bring so, for me, it's a case of people doing their jobs and competing,' he said. 'We spoke about it afterwards and the guys knew themselves and put their hands up straight away. That is important. It is making sure that doesn't creep into the next game and we eradicate those areas. I don't think there was a great deal of other chances after they scored, the lad had a header that went back across goal, but three opportunities and two goals is a good ratio for them.
'That will not happen every week. We need to limit those to being half-chances rather than the clear-cut ones they had. It's only the start, I've worked with the players for three days and if I can get more like the first 60 minutes I will be pleased.'