Seb Bassong is Norwich City’s man for all seasons under Alex Neil
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Seb Bassong is turning into Alex Neil's man for all seasons in Norwich City's bright start to the new campaign.
The 29-year-old central defender is now the only player in the Canaries' squad to have started every league and cup game.
Bassong was out-of-favour at Carrow Road during the early part of last season, but Neil's arrival in Norfolk has transformed the defender's fortunes.
Now the ex-Tottenham and Newcastle defender is one of the first names on the team sheet, but Bassong is taking nothing for granted.
'I like to play. That is the best thing for a footballer, regardless of who it is against if the gaffer asks me to play I will always be 100pc available,' he said. 'I played in the cup and we won so that was pretty good, but as players we understand every game is different. As much as it's about concentrating on us and our team you still have to be aware of the opposition and accept that sometimes the manager may want to change things.
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'You look at someone like Wes (Hoolahan) at Liverpool, he understood that and we all know that could be any of us. It is really why you need a strong squad because everyone will have to play a part. In those situations it is down to the player who has been left out. First and foremost the team comes first. If the manager makes a decision you have to understand it is for the good of the team. We know it is never easy to take on the chin and that is when you see the strength of the group and see that everyone is pulling in the same direction.'
Norwich's unity of strength has underpinned a solid start to life back in the Premier League but Saturday's opponents, West Ham sit third in the early standings, helped by a remarkable run on the road.
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French international Dimitri Payet has proved a stand-out performer for the Hammers and Bassong knows the threat from the former Marseille midfielder.
'They made some good additions in the summer. Dimitri Payet came in and I knew he was going to do well,' said Bassong, who started his club career in France at Metz. 'They have had some pretty big games against the big teams so credit to them. When you play away, especially the big teams, it is not easy to play the same at home. At Manchester City you can sit back a little more and counter-attack. At home you have to play a bit higher and be prepared to make the game. I am not surprised they are up there in the table. They have a good team, but when you change managers it can go either way.'
City head to the Boleyn above both Liverpool and Chelsea, but Bassong is more interested in points on the board rather than the placings.
'The league is still settling down. For us, we have had a good start and we wanted to start pretty well because you don't want to be struggling,' he said. 'If we get the points on the board now then there is less we need to take later on.
'The team is very competitive right now. We are in a good position, but I am not thinking about how many wins we need. As long as we keep playing in the same way we have so far we should be fine.'