Norwich City prove they can mix it with the Premier League big boys
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich City's nous was the most impressive aspect of the Canaries' 0-0 Premier League draw for Alex Neil.
City's first clean sheet since beating Southampton in early January was a major step forward in their survival battle against a club who arrived at Carrow Road still harbouring genuine title hopes.
'We need to win games, we know that, but you can see the effort the lads are putting in and we have a better chance of doing that if we can maintain our game-management, which was far better,' said Neil. 'By that I mean what we do with and without the ball. We played as well with the ball against West Ham but the other side of the game is when you don't have it and it is then about making good decisions and making sure you are hard to beat. I still think our game-management with the ball can improve and it will need to in the key games coming up.
'Swansea was a really cagey affair but look at the three before that and now this one to see how much the lads want to stay in the league. Just watch those games because the players are doing everything they possibly can to win matches.'
The suggestion Manuel Pellegrini's men may have been distracted by Tuesday's Champions League return against Dynamo Kiev got short shrift from Neil.
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'I don't think the Champions League had anything to do with it,' he said. 'If you look at the starting line up they put out they needed to win this game to pretty much have any chance of winning the title, so they approached it knowing they needed a win. If you are prioritising another competition you do not play all your players.
'They have good players all over the pitch. (Sergio) Aguero is probably the top or certainly one of their top players and you are going to have keep him quiet, but if you stop him they have (David) Silva and so on. It wasn't easy. I can assure you. Go and ask the 11 or so boys in my dressing room who had to run about for 90 minutes. It was about good organisation and good decision-making.'
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Norwich's point was the latest in a growing collection against the best the Premier League has to offer.
'It doesn't frustrate me, it shows we can reach a really good level,' said Neil. 'It is not out of our capabilities. I remember against Everton in particular we missed a good chance from six yards when it was 1-1 and they are the type of opportunities you need to take, but if you work as hard as you can and do the right things you hope the results come.'