Norwich City scale new Premier League heights

Alex Neil's Norwich City moved up a gear in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth. Picture by Paul Chesterton/F

Alex Neil's Norwich City moved up a gear in a 3-1 win over Bournemouth. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil's feet only momentarily left the ground but it will take more than the Scot's caution not to get genuinely excited by the dismissive manner Norwich City swatted aside Bournemouth at Carrow Road.

Neil went airborne at the front of his technical area to celebrate Cameron Jerome's breakthrough goal prior to the interval after another key intervention by Wes Hoolahan.

The Republic of Ireland international's class was stamped right through a performance which suggested the Cherries may face the tougher road ahead.

Bournemouth had sporadically threatened prior to Hoolahan's quick trigger movement to lose the lumbering Steve Cook, embellished by the vision to cushion a ball in the direction of the sliding Jerome.

Callum Wilson showed glimpses of his undoubted predatory instinct and, but for Robbie Brady's goal-saving block and John Ruddy's close range stop, the course of this contest may have spun on a radically different axis.


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Yet it was Hoolahan in those congested central swathes who put City in clear water after the interval and triggered a ferocious onslaught that deserved more than Matt Jarvis' classy finish, before Cook profited from more sluggish set piece work.

The confident surge from the hosts once Hoolahan's low hit nestled inside Artur Boruc's far post was to be expected, but it was the manner of Norwich's dominance, allied to the Cherries' graphic implosion, that should provide the abiding memory of this landmark Premier League home win for Neil and his players.

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City looked transformed from the hesitant, inhibited outfit who had toiled at Southampton. Steven Whittaker's dismissal may have contributed to the comprehensive nature of that loss but there was an uncomfortable sense of déjà vu for those with longer top flight memories; a shock factor from the rarity of such a display unfolding on Neil's watch.

Questions had been asked, fanned by the international hiatus and perhaps a frustrating closure to the summer transfer window.

The answer here was emphatic and assertive. This was not a day to focus on Bournemouth's failings, this was about Norwich and another statement of intent.

Neil again emphasised perspective when he spoke to the media but that is sadly a commodity in short supply due to saturation coverage and the global reach of the Premier League.

Its all-consuming nature demands black or white, good or bad, excellent or abysmal.

Navigating those polar opposites is a difficult task, not only for Neil and those under his command, but the rest on the outside.

Nevertheless, in such a combustible firmament there was a clear sense of growth as Norwich cut loose in the second period; of a team and perhaps a management proving their methods are not only residually effective but robustly successful.

The Brady, Jarvis, Hoolahan triumvirate down the left-flank sparked some mesmeric movements.

Martin Olsson's late arrival for his seasonal re-appearance merely underlined the depth of resource in that area of the pitch and perhaps illustrated Bradley Johnson's absence may be felt more acutely in certain sections of the home support than on the pitch.

Nathan Redmond has already proved in the opening battles he can offer that type of potent threat on the opposite flank, and even at the top end of the pitch - that source of so much focus in the smoke and mirrors of the summer transfer horse-trading - there appear grounds for optimism.

Jerome responded to the presence of Dieumerci Mbokani and Kyle Lafferty in his rear view with another energetic shift capped by what should have been his second Premier League goal of the season, but for the intervention of an errant official against Crystal Palace.

Mbokani bristled with athletic intent when he got the nod over the free-scoring Lafferty in a vibrant late cameo that could have brought a debut goal at the near post.

The Northern Irishman cut a forlorn figure as he returned to the sanctuary of the home dugout once Neil had elected to unleash the Kiev loanee, but one senses a renewal in the relationship.

Lafferty may have to adapt, as Neil demands, to fit into City's mobile, attacking model rather than the more static, functional approach carrying his country to the brink of Euro 2016 qualification, but such a goalscoring presence injects a different element into the club mix.

Norwich and Neil will need variety to keep Premier League opponents off-balance in the months ahead. But the signs remain hugely encouraging.

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