Alex Neil ready to go back to the future to ignite Norwich City’s Premier League survival bid
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Alex Neil has gone back to the future in a bid to spark Norwich City’s Premier League revival.
City have shown none of the verve or bullish self-confidence in a five-game losing league streak that they displayed in the early optimistic months of the new campaign, but Neil wants that to change over the run-in.
“I think what we have managed to do is come up with a blueprint about how we want to go about it now, and how we want to fix things,” he said. “What happened at the start of the season was I went with what has served me well in my managerial career but I think for the good of the team and the players perhaps when we were not getting the results those performances merited we went away from that. Then we had a tough spell and when that happens you need to go back to basics, back to the things that you do well and hope you get the rewards from it.
“When you are searching for a solution you cannot do the same things so we have mixed it up a little bit this week to give us a bit of help. Everything from the type of training we have done to the time of the meetings and the detail within those meetings. We have focused on ourselves more than the opposition to freshen things up for the players.”
Neil’s selection policy has come under intense scrutiny since a festive uplift but the Scot is adamant injuries and suspensions have also limited his quest for consistency.
“If you look back over the Christmas period we were certainly better at keeping clean sheets, which helped us, and I think with a win under our belt that gave us some belief and momentum to take it forward,” he said. “Gary (O’Neil) and Alex (Tettey) were playing regularly in that team and we lost both to suspension at one time or the other and Alex had a thigh injury as well so for six games perhaps we have not had them available together.
“The one thing you always search for in this type of situation is consistency in terms of line-up but if individuals are not performing or certain areas of the team are a cause for concern if you see a problem then the first thing you want to do, when you are in charge ,is address it - either by changing the shape or the personnel.”
City were full value for a point at Upton Park during that promising early-season spell but Neil knows key midfielder Dimitri Payet’s return from injury is a major boost for the Hammers ahead of Saturday’s return.
“They beat Arsenal and Manchester City away from home so they did exceptionally well,” said the Norwich boss. “Then they had a couple of injuries, particularly to the boy Payet, and they found it extremely tough in that spell. Since he has come back they have picked up. They have some good players, but so have we and we have to influence our style on them.”