Norwich City boss Alex Neil is not jealous of Tottenham’s talent

Norwich City midfielder Robbie Brady tested Tottenham early on at White Hart Lane. Picture by Paul C

Norwich City midfielder Robbie Brady tested Tottenham early on at White Hart Lane. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil opted to focus on Norwich City's shortcomings rather than cast envious glances at Tottenham's quality after his side's 3-0 Boxing Day Premier League defeat.

Harry Kane scored twice against the club he made five loan appearances and Tom Carroll added a late third in a comprehensive home win orchestrated by Spurs' young midfield general Dele Alli.

Norwich started brightly but faded dramatically after Kane had slotted a penalty at White Hart Lane, but Neil refused to accept his side's defeat was simply the natural order at play in the top flight.

'It underlines the levels in this league but if we score the first goal, and we had chances, then it is a different game,' said Neil. 'Setbacks in games, regardless of how good you are, make the difference. You could have the best team going but if they respond poorly to a setback or a disappointment then they can be beaten. If we had got the first goal then I would have fancied our chances.

'I think they are a well-organised team and they have good players all over the pitch. They are really strong, athletic and have a great age range. They all have that mobility and legs and energy you need and they will be there or thereabouts at the top end of the table.

'But I look at us and it was a disappointing afternoon, we didn't play to the standards we are capable. Sometimes that is credit to the opposition, who squeezed us high up the pitch and made it difficult for us. We haven't played that badly, we have certainly played worse, but we have to be at our peak and moving the ball as well as we can.'

Kane's second, just three minutes before the interval, proved a decisive moment when he escaped the attentions of Seb Bassong to guide a strike into Rudd's bottom corner.

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'If we had managed to keep it to 1-0 at half-time then I think we would have had a good chance after the break,' said Neil. 'As can happen at times when you try and search for that equaliser that is when you get done. We looked as if we lacked a bit of belief in that spell after they scored the penalty. At this level if you give a team like Spurs a 2-0 lead, particularly, away from home, it is going to be extremely difficult to then try and turn the game around.'

City did press Hugo Lloris into early action with stops from Robbie Brady and Vadis Odjidja.

'We wanted to start on the front foot and we did that but our response to conceding the penalty wasn't as good as it should have been and then, bang, they score again quickly when we try to break on them,' said Neil. 'In the second half there wasn't a great deal in it but they played well, they showed their quality and we didn't retain the ball as well as we would have liked.

'With 15 minutes to go we tried to go two up top in a bid to stretch the game and get something, but they go up the pitch and Tom Carroll bangs one in from 20 yards.'