Tough talking from Alex Neil sparks Norwich City improvement in Maccabi Haifa tour defeat
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil got the desired response from his Norwich City squad after revealing he had to deliver a half-time pep talk in the Canaries' opening 1-0 tour friendly defeat to Maccabi Haifa in Austria on Monday night.
City looked much more aggressive in their collective approach after a lacklustre start in oppressive temperatures. Neil's side were still unable to muster a response to cancel out Alon Turgeman's first half match-winner, but the Scot took comfort in some positives signs.
'I felt we should have definitely scored. We had few good opportunities and we didn't take them,' he said. 'First half, it was a bitty type of game, albeit they probably had more chances than us. I thought our pressing wasn't up to scratch. We had a chat about it at half-time and I thought it improved drastically after that point. To be fair, we dominated the whole of the second half.
'We deserved a goal for our efforts, which was disappointing, but the most important thing is to iron out these issues in pre-season and that we are getting our work in. I was pleased with that reaction from the boys.'
Neil opted to give a selection of his shadow squad a run out with established first teamers like John Ruddy and Russell Martin kept in reserve for this weekend's friendly against Bundesliga outfit FC Augsburg.
'We have a game Saturday against Augsburg who, if you looked at the levels, are probably better than Haifa and so we gave some of the boys a night off and others only got 45 minutes,' he said. 'There were a lot of the other guys who didn't feature as much last season and have been looking for an opportunity. Bearing in mind we made five changes within the game the second half was a positive, the first half there is bits and pieces to work on.
'I don't think the amount of training we are doing was the reason we weren't quite there in the first half. I think the heat was a big factor. We are not used to it and its not just the heat but the humidity.
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'It was 30c and you struggled to get your breath. It is different for our boys, they are used to playing in that sort of heat and you could see in the second half we looked a lot fitter and stronger after the tempo dropped.'
Striker Cameron Jerome had a protective cast on his left foot as a precautionary measure after damaging the sole of his foot at Cambridge on Friday.