Manager Alex Neil's efforts culminated yesterday, when he guided Norwich City back in the Premier League, as the Canaries defeated Middlesbrough 2-0 in the play-off final at Wembley.
Given the importance of the match, it was an edgy encounter in the opening exchanges, but Neil's team soon took control of the game and scored twice in the first 15 minutes; Cameron Jerome managed to force an error from Boro's defender Daniel Ayala, a Canaries ex-player, and slotted the visitors into the lead after twelve minutes. This was his 21st this campaign.
Nathan Redmond then doubled their advantage three minutes later, and sealed the victory for the Carrow Road side in front of 85,000 fans.
Middlesbrough, who were delayed in traffic and turned up late at Wembley, struggled to get any sort of passing rhythm and grip in the game, so they made a switch at half-time, taking off Dean Whitehead, for forward Emilio Nsue. They only posed one serious threat for the Canaries keeper John Ruddy in the second half, when the Championship's player of the year Patrick Bamford, on loan to Boro from Chelsea, sent his shot towards the goal.
The promotion of Norwich is a huge personal achievement for Neil, the 33 year-old Scot, who also secured a £120 million winners' prize to the club; Neil is relatively unknown in England, but was at the forefront of Hamilton's promotion into the Scottish Premier League last season. His success in Scotland convinced the Norwich hierarchy that he was the man to replace Neil Adams in January, as the club lay seventh in the table, three points off the play-off places. And the Scot did not disappoint. #FootballHowever, for Boro's manager Aitor Karanka it is a different story; the defeat is a bitter pill to swallow after a season that promised so much. The Spaniard, who was working alongside with Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid, has implemented a great deal of changes during his 18 months at the club, but did not manage to get them promoted. He can only hope that the club would come stronger in the next season.