Norwich City chief Alex Neil seeks another winning hand against Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth
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Alex Neil and Eddie Howe may be poster boys for the Premier League’s new wave of managerial talent but the Scot aims to retain his upper hand in Saturday’s latest tussle.
Neil has won both his career meetings with the Bournemouth chief, although the Norwich City boss is an admirer of Howe’s work on the south-coast.
“If people want to portray it as a rivalry, I don’t see it that way,” said Neil. “I see a rivalry with every club in this league, because we are fighting against them all, not specifically me and Eddie Howe or my players and the Bournemouth lads. I don’t really know him that well. I had a brief conversation when Lewis (Grabban) was getting transferred and other than that we’ve only really spoken after the two games.
“He has done well. They deservedly got promotion last season, they play a good brand of football and the one thing he has in his favour is he has had that group together for the best part of three or four seasons. That always helps if you can build a bond and the team are familiar with everything he does in terms of his methods. We have our methods but it really depends on who plays well on the day. The game last season down there I wouldn’t say we were fortunate, but it was difficult.
“We had 10 for long spells, they played well and Cameron (Jerome) won it with a bit of magic. Then we performed well here this season at our place and we have to make sure we reach that level again.”
A swift reunion with Grabban may have dominated the build-up but Neil has no special plans in place to deal with Bournemouth’s expensively-purchased new strike force, with Grabban joined by Benik Afobe at the Cherries.
“Everybody is fully aware they have an owner who has vast amounts of money,” he said. “They have invested and worked extremely hard to get to the Premier League and now they are working hard to stay there and that is one of the methods. If they have the money, that is up to them.
“Lewis wasn’t contributing to what we were trying to do as a squad. To be honest he had his head turned, he didn’t want to be part of the team and with the money we got for him we felt it made perfect sense to let him go.
“We’ll need to see if he is playing first, Eddie has a decision to make.”
Neil is looking for the likes of Wes Hoolahan and fit-again midfielder Matt Jarvis to grab the headlines after their influential roles in Norwich’s 3-1 league win at Carrow Road. Jarvis made his first team comeback at Stoke, and Neil is ready to unleash the wideman.
“Matt is naturally fit,” said Neil. “There are some players who you come across, when regardless of how long they have been out for, they pick up the speed really quickly and Matt is blessed with natural fitness. As far as him being available for the game there won’t be any issues.
“He played well in that match and Wes was in fine form that day. He created two and scored one, and if we could have that sort of day down there that would be alright by me.”