Steven Naismith is no Norwich City scapegoat for Alex Neil
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Alex Neil insisted Steven Naismith was a convenient fall guy for Norwich City's inept 3-0 Championship defeat at Birmingham City.
City completed a permanent deal for Benfica striker Nelson Oliveira over the weekend, with the club poised to officially announce the deal in the next 24 hours, to bolster a frontline that looked wafer-thin in the absence of injured first choice Cameron Jerome at St Andrew's.
Naismith failed to impress against the Blues in an advanced role before making way for Kyle Lafferty, but Neil is adamant the buck stops with him.
'It is easy for people to look for a scapegoat but we as a collective, me, my staff, the players have got to look at how we went about our work because it wasn't good enough,' he said. 'When Steven was on the pitch I didn't think we were great, when Kyle (Lafferty) was on the pitch I didn't think we were great. You can't pick out one individual. The other ten and the substitutes who played as well didn't perform.
'Rightly so, after losing the first game of the season what is going to happen now is people will discuss this and dissect it. I'll take that on the chin, the players will take that on the chin, because when you perform like we did they deserve it to happen. We have to come back better for the next one.
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'The minimum expectation from a team of mine is they compete and we didn't have enough who did.'
Neil's first-ever away defeat in the Championship since becoming Norwich boss was difficult to digest.
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'It is probably as poor as we have had since I have been here,' he said. 'Some of the lads I have had since I have been here were as poor as I have seen them. That is surprising and disappointing at the same time. I am sure they will be. I don't write it off as a one-off, but they haven't done themselves justice.
'We lost it rather than Birmingham carved us open and beat us. We lose a header at the back post for the first goal, which we should do better with. They put a cross into our box, which is a hopeful one, and the lad comes inside our full back and gets a header, which he shouldn't.
'The second one we have three lads goalside of Clayton Donaldson but Steven (Whittaker), for whatever reason, decides to make a rash challenge and give away a penalty and then Alex has gifted them the third. It is not a case Birmingham carved us open with free-flowing football. We were the makers of our own downfall.'