Photo gallery and video: Norwich City thwarted in Maccabi Haifa friendly
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
It would appear never too early in the court of Alex to dispense some instant justice towards his under-performing Norwich City players.
Neil's 'wee chats' became part of the myth and mythology propelling the Canaries towards that remarkable climax at Wembley in May and the prize of Premier League football.
The Scot routinely appeared to adopt the half-time interval as a motivational tool to implore and exhort his troops. A lacklustre opening period at Leeds on a testing midweek Championship trip to Elland Road during the league run-in springs immediately to mind. Graham Dorrans' missed penalty had summed up an opening period deemed unacceptable by Neil, who got the riposte he was looking for on the resumption.
It may have been deepest Austria in front of only a smattering of spectators, and a live Israeli television audience, but there was no trace of indifference in the way Neil delivered a brutally honest assessment at the interval of what he deemed below-par efforts at the Kufstein-Arena.
City were suddenly far bolder, far more willing to press high and pin the Israelis back. The equalising goal may have eluded them but there were far more encouraging signs to take into this weekend's tour finale against top-rank Bundesliga opponents FC Augsburg.
Jacob Murphy and Harry Toffolo combined smoothly down the left after being introduced in the second period. Ricky van Wolfswinkel was again prominent without the final flourish seen at Cambridge United after replacing Gary Hooper, who toiled in the intense heat.
Bradley Johnson and Elliott Bennett's deployment as full-backs underlined again the work that is required to re-equip the Canaries for a sustained crack at the Premier League.
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But again on balance this was another positive step on the road that leads to Crystal Palace on August 8. Nathan Redmond made his first appearance of the summer for his club after extended national service with England's Under-21s. Jonny Howson was back after recovering from a viral infection, so too Seb Bassong following a tight hamstring.
Bassong partnered Ryan Bennett, who was kept very busy by Alon Turgeman in the opening skirmishes. It was little surprise Haifa's pacy attacker proved the difference, with a whipped, first-time finish past Declan Rudd.
Rudd had already denied the striker on two earlier occasions but was beaten by the instinctive accuracy of his right-footed finish. Norwich's attacking thrusts after the interval carried far more venom than tame first half productivity.
Tony Andreu became a growing influence after barely leaving an impression early on.
Norwich went close twice in the space of seconds in the 58th minute when Vadis Odjidja and then Andreu both had fearsome goalbound efforts cleared by the Israeli defence from Dorrans' initial free-kick. Dorrans surged forward approaching the final quarter, but his centre arrowing towards van Wolfswinkel was cut out by a sliding challenge from Taleb Tawatha, before captain for the night Gary O'Neil curled the follow-up over.
A vocal Neil could be heard imploring Murphy to commit his full-back and the wide player responded in the 79th minute with a low cross that just evaded van Wolfswinkel.
Murphy then linked with Andreu and cut back inside on his right but Vladimir Stojkovic shovelled the strike away. City's Dutch striker guided another Murphy salvo wide at the near post with the youngster seemingly a constant threat as the minutes slipped by.
Toffolo became the latest to surge forward down the Norwich left before van Wolfswinkel's rolled pass was too tempting for Andreu, who clubbed wide as a clearly frustrated Dorrans begged for a slip pass. Odjidja barrelled his way through but cracked a left-footed half-volley over from 16 yards in the final throes from City that underlined a shift of fleeting promise but lacking in potent thrust.