McVeigh card is red rag to Grant

CHRIS LAKEY Paul McVeigh may have blown his chance of finally breaking into Norwich City's starting XI after his injury-time dismissal against Cardiff on Saturday.


Paul McVeigh may have blown his chance of finally breaking into Norwich City's starting XI after his injury-time dismissal against Cardiff on Saturday.

McVeigh was given his marching orders after a head-to-head confrontation with Cardiff right back Kerrea Gilbert. The on-loan Arsenal defender appeared to kick McVeigh, the pair touched heads, and then McVeigh appeared to take the matter one step further by moving his head forward - enough for referee Tony Bates to flash the red cards.

McVeigh had come on as a 67th-minute sub for Darren Huckerby, but instead of preparing for a start at Port Vale in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, he'll be wondering what the future holds for him.

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“It was a tactical decision but it nearly blew up in my face because Paul let us down badly,” said Grant. “I'm big on discipline. I said that before the game - we need every player on the pitch because we're not good enough to lose any players. Getting sent off is one thing but the free-kick in the place it was could have caused us major problems. So - very pleased to get through that but very disappointed with him.

“I know he's come in and apologised to the players, but that's too late then if you let us down on the pitch.

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“I'll deal with it. I don't care if it says violent conduct. At the end of the day he's out of the team now for three games and the big thing for him is he got to get in the 16 again. I'm thinking about playing him in the starting 11 because he's got that quality, but now he's got himself out of the 16 and if I bring other players in, he's going to have a hard job to get in the squad again so he's let himself down badly. He'll need to work really, really hard to get back in that group of players.”

Huckerby also didn't escape the manager's wrath, with Grant making clear that the City star was taken off for tactical reasons, not just because he appeared to have picked up an injury.

“He was injured, but I was going to take him off anyway because I didn't think he was doing his job properly,” said Grant.

“I think he's a match winner, I think he's got great quality, he's a big, big player in this league for us, but we were ready to change him anyway so it was a good job he started limping. I think he knew that.”

Grant has now racked up two wins and a draw since being named as City manager nine days ago, but having seen Norwich dominate the first half he was given a sharp reminder of the work that lies ahead as the Canaries let their standards slip after the interval.

“First half we created chances, played very well, played at the tempo I wanted to play at,” he said. “The second half was the complete opposite. We let a very good side dominate us in the second half because we stopped doing what we were good at in the first half.

“The players got a little bit lazy in their mind and couldn't do their jobs properly, so hung on at the end and, okay, Cardiff never had a shot at our goal I don't think, but we've got a long way to go yet, that's for sure.

“You think in the first half, 'we've got a good side here', but then in the second half I can understand why the fans are nervous here because the players stopped doing their jobs because they think it becomes easy. I said to them, 'you've got to work hard for 90 minutes but think hard for 120'.

“They stopped thinking, stopped doing their jobs properly and that will not be tolerated at this club because they've got to give 100pc commitment all the time and understand their job at important times. I can understand why they've lost matches by switching off and hopefully we've seen the last of that.

“If you don't take your chances against a team like Cardiff you're always working on your nerves. First half I thought we played excellent stuff and I was very, very pleased with them. Second half, big let-down, we never created many chances. We turned the ball over too often, we gave the ball away cheaply - all the things we work on that's going to come right on the day that was the complete opposite to the first half.

“I'm delighted but frustrated as well, because I think we're much better than that. I think there's lots to come, there's a lot of understanding to their game got to come, a lot more thought going into their game. We still don't know how to win the game, really.”

It's no goals conceded in the last two games, but City's defence didn't escape criticism from Grant.

“They still made mistakes and still got dragged out of position and allowed other people to get dragged out,” he said. “I need (Dickson) Etuhu to command it for me because he's been outstanding for me in the two games we've played, but positionally they've got to organise people round about them, so their organisational skills at that time have got to come to the fore. And they didn't do that.

“They just played their own game so, defensively, they got blocks in but they've got to open their mouths and organise people round about them if they want to be top centre-backs. But they've got the quality there to do that and hopefully we can add the other side of it to them. I can't argue with them, they've had two clean sheets and it's great credit to them, but there's a lot of improvement still to go in this team, that's for sure.”

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