Alex Neil thinks his side can get something from today’s tricky looking game at Leicester City and feels his side’s much heralded ‘back to basics’ tactics can make it happen.
The City boss spoke to Norwich City TV on Friday:
He said: ‘We’ve watched a lot of Leicester and they’re very direct. They’re good at what they do and they’re an efficient team.
‘We’ve got to make sure that we counteract that by doing what we’re good at. The game at home finished 2-1 to Leicester but we hit the bar with about ten minutes to go and we had all the pressure towards the end.
‘Hopefully we can go there and put in a good performance, and there’s no reason why if we play at our maximum, we can’t get a result.’
He’s right about the game at Carrow Road. Having been the better team for the first hour or so, Leicetser were hanging on by their fingernails by the time the full time whistle went.
The dynamic will be different today though. Leicester are now topping the league and they will be the home side. Their fans, probably living in dreamland at the moment, will expect a win against a side like Norwich, it’s only natural.
How the Foxes adapt to being favourites in matches may well determine their fate in the title race over the next couple of months. Their undoubted strength has been counter attacking football and I think that is exactly what we need to get back to if we are to get something from this match.
Lightning fast breaks via the likes of Vardy and Mahrez have given even the most experienced defences some nightmares (Chelsea, I’m looking at you), so our porous back four will need to be at the top of their game today. I’m not sure that they even have a ‘top of game’ position to be honest, having seen them make so many individual errors this season.
Jamie Vardy is a penalty winner extraordinaire and I think I’m right in saying that he has been awarded the most spot kicks in the PL this season. Just like he did at Carrow Road, if he gets ahead of a defender and is into the box but not able to shoot, he then slows up just a fraction which ensures contact with a lumbering centre back at full tilt. There’s contact and down he goes.
It’s the football equivalent to the staged rear end shunt insurance scam – very hard for officials to deal with and I’m not even sure it’s cheating. It’s just very clever. If he’s running quickly and then decides to slow down being apparently clattered from behind, I’m thinking it’s the centre back who has to ensure any contact is clean and only for the ball.
Anyway, we’ll see how Seb and Timm deal with him in just a few hours time. In other news, Norwich have just returned from a winter break in Abu Dhabi, something that Neil feels has been very good for his men.
‘It was for the players to try and alleviate themselves from the pressures of the Premier League,’ he explained.
‘There’s a lot of pressure on these boys to perform because everybody connected with Norwich wants them to do well.
‘It was good for a week to get away and do a bit of training in a different environment, and now they can completely focus on the remaning 12 games.’
I know lots of you disagree but for many reasons, which I’ve already tried to explain, I think this break was a good thing to do. How it affects performances between now and the end of the season will potentially dictate our end position. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.