Norwich City boss Alex Neil was delighted with the performance of Lewis Grabban as he marked his return to the side with the equaliser in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal.
Grabban was suspended by the club and forced to issue a public apology after he stormed out of the team hotel ahead of a League Cup game with Rotherham in August.
The 27-year-old was given his first Premier League start since the opening-day defeat to Crystal Palace against Arsenal and he repaid his manager’s faith with a well-taken strike after Mesut Ozil had put the Gunners ahead.
Grabban said afterwards that he hopes to enjoy “a bright future” at Carrow Road and Neil was thrilled that his gamble paid off.
“I think if it doesn’t go to plan I’d be criticised for putting him in, he’d be criticised for playing, but management is about making decisions you think are right when everyone else probably thinks it’s wrong,” Neil said.
“Credit to Lewis, I thought he showed everybody how good a player he is. The one thing he gives me is work-rate, he’ll run channels, retain the ball well. He’s a really good football player and he showed all the attributes today.
“Every player goes out with something to prove. There’s more of an edge to Lewis as he hasn’t been involved but I’m really pleased for him and the group.
“I’ve got a good relationship with Lewis but, if they break the rules, they’ll be punished. He’s accepted it and we’ve moved on. He put himself behind other people in the pecking order but I felt today’s game suited his attributes.”
Neil felt Norwich would have been deserved winners had they found a second goal, with his side having suffered narrow defeats in recent away games against champions Chelsea and league leaders Manchester City.
“At the start we’d set up to frustrate Arsenal and try to hit on the counter-attack,” he explained. “I put more technical players in the team to try to keep the ball better than we have done.
“In recent weeks we’ve been solid, good shape, resilient but without having long possession of the ball to alleviate the pressure and build attacks. I felt we did that.
“I think we’ve got to give out team credit. We’ve all seen this season how good Arsenal can be, I’d more look at how our team set up to make it difficult for Arsenal.
“If anybody was going to win it, it would’ve been us, and it would’ve merited the points we should’ve picked up on the road, especially at Manchester City.
“We’ve got a really important game next week against Watford and that belief will certainly help us going into that game.”