“As a group, we’re doing well – we’ve put ourselves into contention,” said Neil this afternoon, as goals either side of the break from the unstoppable Bradley Johnson and the tireless Lewis Grabban confirmed Norwich’s premier status locally.
“It’s a wonderful strike again from Bradley Johnson,” Neil told BBC Radio Norfolk. “He did it during the week and he’s added another one today. And I think that’s now double figures for him in terms of goals and I’m delighted for him.”
To pick up a seventh win out of his first nine games at the helm – and all at the expense of the neighbours one point above Norwich in the Sky Bet Championship – is the sort of opportunity the footballing fates offer up only very rarely.
“It means the world to me,” Neil told BBC Radio Norfolk. “I’m here to win games and do the best I possibly can for Norwich and my group of players.”
In short, next Sunday’s encounter might be tailor-made for the Neils of this world. I would expect him to rise to the occasion. If his team does too, that’s another big moment on our famed back bend.
“That’s four clean sheets out of five and we’ve got goals in us going forwards. And we’re not conceding many at the back so it makes for a good combination.”
He was still offered the gang plank with the Norfolk club in seventh; that’s no mean feat in your first season out of the Premier League. And, in particular, with arguably your best player having sulked off to Vicarage Road for the autumn.
Whether they could again expect to be two goals to the good against a team of Wolves’ undoubted calibre is another matter; most City punters would settle for simply reversing the shoreline from the opening day of the season and the 1-0 defeat at Molineux.
Walker’s tenure on Merseyside didn’t pan out as well as everyone hoped. Or, indeed, maybe expected. There is no doubt that in that autumn – in Munich and Milan – Walker’s star was firmly in the ascendant. He had something. He had presence in front of the cameras; made friends in the media easily. And, of course, the shock of white hair helped the image.
“We worked last week before Birmingham on tightening us up at the back – to make sure we do keep clean sheets. And then I said all week that we will look to try and add that edge that we probably didn’t have at Birmingham. To have both was really pleasing.”
Pulis’ sides tend to see midfield as a nice to have, but not a necessity. And if they have to have one, then graft not craft is the order of the day. Run, run, run… Not pass, pass, pass. What it means for those already sat in the City dressing room is another interesting question.
“Jerome hadn’t trained all week because he had a tight hamstring and I just didn’t think that the system we chose would have suited Gary Hooper – and Lewis Grabban has trained very well since we came in.”
The more the Neil regime stutters a la Brentford, the more the Adams reign starts to shine. Not perhaps as the brightest star in the managerial firmament, but it will beg ever more pressing questions as to why, exactly, the former Youth coach was pointed in the direction of the gang-plank.
“He was asked to play a role that he’s not usually accustomed to playing and I thought he worked his socks off for the group. I didnt think he did particularly poor – to be honest, he was the least of my concerns today.”
Neil is not someone afraid to throw the kids in early – which is one, big reason Saints are where they are. And why Master McGrandles might have some fun before this season is out.
“This is only the start. I’ve only been in with the players three days in terms of full days training. And if I can get more of those first 60 minutes, then I’ll be really pleased…”
“The game has had a few twists and turns and obviously the sending off is a huge turning point. I was actually enjoying up in the stands up until that point, but obviously then everything changed.”
Should Phelan prove to be the chosen one, then his arrival was what Adams might have feared all along – that he was a manager in waiting; that Adams himself was a dead man walking. One more slip and he would be out.
“It goes without saying that I sincerely hope the team achieves success this season and I would like to say a huge thank you to the supporters who have backed me during my tenure as manager.”
“Coming into the game we were feeling good and confident – obviously it was disappointing to lose the game away at Reading,” he added. “But we knew coming here it was going to be a tough game, but as I said they out-worked us and deserved to beat us.”