Norwich City boss Alex Neil wants to turn on the style in Carrow Road homecoming
PUBLISHED: 08:40 28 July 2015 | UPDATED: 08:40 28 July 2015
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Alex Neil has a simple mantra for the final phase of Norwich City’s pre-season preparations – he wants to retain the winning feeling.
The Canaries hit back late to beat FC Augsburg 2-1 in Germany to round off a productive week-long tour before Tuesdday’s Carrow Road homecoming against Premier League rivals West Ham. (KO 7:45pm)
City wrap up their pre-season with Championship promotion hopefuls Brentford visiting Norfolk before Crystal Palace present the first Premier League obstacle to Neil’s squad on August 8.
City’s successful promotion surge from the second tier under the Scot’s guidance was built on an impressive winning streak and Neil is striving to harness the same positivity in front of Norwich’s fans.
“What am I looking for from those two games? To win them. I think it is really important to get that winning mentality,” he said. “That was why it was important we beat Augsburg. I want us to get that winning feeling back because we are used to winning games. We need to take that back home and give good performances.
“It will be nice for the home fans to see the boys. We have been up and running in pre-season for a while now but we can show them all the work and the progress the lads have made and how fit they are and how hard they are working. I don’t think the West Ham game will be a true reflection of how the Premier League games might go, because they still have the Europa League so I imagine it will be a squad team from them and ours will be mixed and matched as well. We had a lot of guys who played 90 minutes on Saturday so to ask them to go Saturday and then Tuesday and the following weekend would be asking a lot. We’ll make sure we spread the game time around a lot this week.”
Neil selected a team full of Wembley play-off final winners against the Germans in Prien and he is already clear in his own mind of who will get the nod against Palace.
“It was a strong team, but I have other boys who could potentially come in,” he said. “Jonny (Howson) managed to get half-an-hour because I gave Nathan (Redmond) 60 minutes. I have Graham Dorrans, Ryan Bennett, Gary Hooper, Gary O’Neil. I have a lot of players who have done well over the course of pre-season and as I continually tell them, 11 doesn’t split into 25, so they know I have to whittle it down to get my strongest team. Players can certainly change your mind on form and how they approach it but I have a good idea how I well set-up for Palace. I am always thinking that far down the line.”
Neil was critical of his side’s deferential approach in the first half against strong Bundesliga opponents and the Scot wants no repeat when the real business gets under way against the top flight elite.
“Don’t be too respectful of who you are playing against,” he said. “Football is mental as much as physical. Of course you have to go in respecting your opponent but believing you can play well and beat them. If you go in with the attitude, ‘let’s just hold out and see how the game goes,’ that is not how I want my team to approach. That is not how I approach it and I made my feelings known.”