Alex Neil lays it on the line to Norwich City’s squad
Alex Neil knows his most important task is to win the respect of the Norwich City squad.
Name: Alexander Francis Neil
Age: 33 (Birthday June 9, 1981)
Born: Bellshill, Scotland
Playing career: Midfielder for Airdrieonians, Barnsley, Mansfield and Hamilton
Managerial career: Player/manager at Hamilton since March 2013
Managerial record: P70 W37 D15 L18 (52.9pc win percentage)
The 33-year-old’s age and relative inexperience have been prominent themes since the Canaries head hunted the former Hamilton chief, but Neil has no fears he can handle a dressing room of internationals and big characters.
“Not a problem. That won’t faze me. The bottom line is they are football players,” he said. “They are like anybody else. They want to do well for themselves and their families. They want to be competitive and successful as they can be so that holds no fears for me. I have spoken to the squad and told them I am here to help and here to make sure we are functioning to our maximum potential as a group and individuals.
“The demands upon them will be I am prepared to give them 100% and I expect the exact same back and I am hoping we work well together and push on. I try to be honest with people, they might not always like it, but that is how it is. I try to create good relationships with players because I feel if you do that the one thing they will do is try their hardest for you, themselves and the group. I’ll be honest, upfront and I’ll let the lads know what is expected of them.”
Neil confirmed on Saturday his first team playing days are over although Norwich’s new boss may appear at development level.
“I don’t see myself playing for the first team. I am here in a managerial capacity. That is the role I am taking on,” he said. “If I did play it would certainly be with the under-21s to give them some guidance and try to teach them from within a game situation, not just on the sidelines.
“I want my team to play high energy football, we want to get in people’s faces, we want to get the ball and control it and attack. That is basically my philosophy. When the opposition are in possession I want us to get it back quickly.
“It is relatively simple. It is about getting us organised when we are in possession of the ball and how we go about that. I want us to hunt as a group rather than as individuals and I want to see that hunger and drive within the team. I want my teams to play attacking football, create chances and score as many goals as possible. I managed that at Hamilton and I plan to do the same here.”
Neil will be in the stands at Bournemouth with first team coaches Mike Phelan and Gary Holt preparing the squad for the trip to the Championship leaders.
“I was hoping to be in the dugout,” he said. “If I had been down from Thursday I would have put a stamp on the team and spoken to them in more detail and let them know what I am looking for. I’ve not had any time on the pitch with them so for me to do that is unrealistic.
“I will be in the stand, watching and I will probably come down at half-time and full-time and have a bit of input but in terms of setting the team up time has worked against us on that one.”