Tuesday 27 September 2016

Magnificent Hoolahan inspires Canaries to first home league victory for manager Neil

Premier League round up

Published 13/09/2015 | 02:30

Wes Hoolahan was in fine form for Norwich
Wes Hoolahan was in fine form for Norwich

Alex Neil lavished praise on Wes Hoolahan after his man-of-the-match performance in yesterday's 3-1 win over Bournemouth.

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The Norwich boss enjoyed victory against the Cherries in his first game in charge and repeated the feat with a success that lifts his side into the top half of the Premier League.

Hoolahan created the opening goal for Cameron Jerome before scoring the second himself just seven minutes into the second half. The game was wrapped up when loanee Matt Jarvis struck on his debut, with Steve Cook grabbing a consolation for the visitors.

The win gives Neil his first home Premier League victory but it was the performance of playmaker Hoolahan that had the Scot purring after the game.

"Fantastic," he said when asked to sum up the 33-year-old's contribution. "He is capable of that. He isn't going to always have days when he has that much influence but when he does he is a joy to watch. He is a special player and he has been excellent since I came here.

"I think his performance today was terrific, he has been a key figure in my team."

This win was a second of the season for Norwich and Neil was keen to stress the suggestions of a slow start to the campaign for the Canaries were wide of the mark.

"Football is funny. Whatever spin you can put on things -people buy into it," he added. "We have played four games before today and three of them we played well in, the last one we didn't and we're told we have started the season badly.

"We went and won the game and the story is completely different but I think that is just the circus that goes on in the Premier League.

"If anybody is a Norwich fan, we have played four games where we have performed really well, one where we have not; if we can average that over the rest of the season it'll be fine. People in football don't get carried away with it."

Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was left bemoaning his side's poorest performance in 18 months and pointed to a poor defensive display as the cause of the defeat. "Without a shadow of a doubt," he said when asked if that was the Cherries' worst performance in their short Premier League history. "Definitely this season and, reflecting back on last season I don't think we performed like that at all."

Meanwhile, Tony Pulis hopes the Saido Berahino saga is over after the striker made his West Brom comeback.

A forgettable 0-0 draw with Southampton saw the 22-year-old return after his strike threat following a blocked move to Tottenham on deadline day.

He failed to shine, though, as the Baggies had to settle for a dull draw at The Hawthorns.

Berahino had missed the last three games with Pulis concerned about his state of mind during the saga as Albion rejected four bids from Tottenham over the summer.

He threatened on Twitter never to play for the club again but after many home fans sung his name, despite some booing, Pulis wants to draw a line under the affair.

"I'm pleased he had such a great reception, that's wonderful and it shows the quality and the depth of our supporters to have given him such a reception," said Pulis. "He's a young boy. He's made mistakes and everybody in this room has made mistakes in their life.

"What he's got to do is learn by them, move on and make sure he doesn't make them again. I just hope and pray he does that because he is a talent."

Callum McManaman felt he should have had a penalty in the first half after going down under Matt Targett's challenge but Albion failed to seriously test Maarten Stekelenburg.

Jay Rodriguez wasted Southampton's best opening, in a game of few chances, when he headed wide from six yards in the first half. But Southampton kept their third straight clean sheet with new signing from Celtic Virgil van Dijk impressing on his debut.

Swansea manager Garry Monk rued his side's "sluggish" display after they suffered their first defeat of the season at Watford. Odion Ighalo scored the only goal of the game shortly before the hour mark to secure Watford's first victory of their Premier League campaign.

The hosts, who had to see out most of the second half with only 10 men after Valon Behrami was dismissed for an apparent stamp on Andre Ayew, were good value for their victory. Swansea, 2-1 victors over Manchester United in their final match before the international break, were off the pace and Monk lamented his team's performance.

"It was a poor afternoon for us, and nowhere near the levels we require to do well in this league," he said. "There was a lack of focus on the good things that we do - what we are capable of - and we went away from that today.

"We were doing things that we do not normally do. We were sluggish with the ball and did not use the ball in the right areas and that is the reason we lost the game.

"I am disappointed with a loss and I am not going to come in happy if I have just lost a game, but the manner in which we lost is the most disappointing bit."

Watford had not scored since the opening day of the season, but a long punt up field from goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes was headed down by Troy Deeney before Ighalo, who signed a new five-year deal on Friday, calmly converted from six yards.

"It summed our day up - poor," a visibly frustrated Monk said of Watford's goal. "We had enough men there to deal with it and we didn't. It was an extremely poor goal and I am disappointed with that."

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