Norwich City left reeling after one self-inflicted blow too many in their Premier League defeat to Manchester United
©Focus Images Limited www.focus-images.co.uk +447814 482222
Alex Neil’s post-match demeanour suggested Norwich City’s latest self-inflicted 1-0 Premier League defeat to Manchester United had proved one mistake too many.
The Canaries’ slender survival hopes will be extinguished should Sunderland beat Everton on Wednesday but Neil knows his squad have contributed massively to their own downfall this season.
Juan Mata’s 72nd minute strike proved the difference at Carrow Road after Seb Bassong’s costly failure to cut out Antonio Valencia’s pass was punished by Wayne Rooney in the build-up.
Neil was brutally honest when asked afterwards if the catalogue of individual errors this season had tested his patience.
“It has tested my patience for a long time. I have told that to the players. It is not a case of the message not sinking in, because I don’t think any player goes out onto the pitch wanting to make a mistake,” he said. “They are all trying but when you are under pressure and not performing as well as you would hope sometimes those errors can creep in. It is not as if it’s one individual who has made errors this season, it has been a variety of different players at times. It is not solely down to that. There is a whole host of reasons why we are down where we are. You can talk tactics and formations all day but if you can’t do the basics right ultimately it is going to cost you.
“Too often for us it has been a lapse in concentration and that makes life so much harder. I think Manchester United’s goal would be their first on target and we just didn’t create anywhere near enough chances as we would have liked.”
Neil again went for containment as the platform to try and exploit another of the big boys, in a repeat of the counter-attacking approach at Arsenal which ended in the same sour outcome.
“You have to remember you are playing against a Manchester United team who were trying to get into the top four,” he said. “The game plan was quite similar to Arsenal in the fact we were happy to invite them on and then hit them on the counter-attack and that created the best chance of the game for us. I don’t think the game plan was necessarily the problem, but later in the game United had the majority of the possession, so you can only attack if you get the ball.
“I didn’t think there was much wrong with the shape or the formation. We limited them and they are a good side. We started the game well, better than them and we hit them on the break quite a few times. At the start of the second half we couldn’t get out, we got hemmed in, but we put two on up top and got ourselves a bit further up the pitch.”