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Sympathy in short supply from Norwich City towards desperate Newcastle United

Norwich City's Premier League home game against Liverpool has been brought forward to a Saturday lunchtime kick-off in late January for live television coverage. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich City's Premier League home game against Liverpool has been brought forward to a Saturday lunchtime kick-off in late January for live television coverage. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Alex Neil knows the spotlight is on Steve McClaren’s misfiring Magpies, but sympathy will be in short supply from the Canaries.

McClaren needs a maiden league win on Sunday afternoon to alleviate the mounting pressure on Tyneside, with a demanding public and unsentimental owner hardly mitigating forces in the former England chief’s favour.

Norwich have proved resilient and courageous on the road under Neil in the Premier League and both those qualities may be required to prevail in what is likely to be a fractious St James’ Park bear pit.

“The fact they haven’t won yet this season and they are at home probably applies more pressure,” said Neil. “We are desperate to win as well and we like to worry about what we are doing, rather than focus on others. Regardless of whether it is Newcastle or whoever, when you go away from home you want to try and create a bit of tension in the crowd and around the stadium. Every team that comes to Carrow Road tries to do the same to us so it is the same scenario.

“I think it will be a tough game, as they all are in the Premier League. There is no weak squad in the Premier League. If you don’t perform well then you run the risk of losing the game. If we perform to our maximum and go and play as well as we have done for the majority of this season we will be okay.”

Neil and his players will be familiar with the dynamic swirling around McClaren and his under-performing squad after experiencing similar turbulence on Merseyside last month, in what proved to be Brendan Rodgers’ penultimate home league game in charge of the Reds.

The Scot, however, does not share the prevailing view McClaren is on borrowed time.

“It depends who is saying this is a must-win for them. If its players or people inside the club then it adds to the pressure, which I don’t think they need, so I would be surprised if that is the case,” he said. “Every game is a must-win. Newcastle is no different to ourselves in that respect. The media perhaps try to hype it up, which is fine, but every week is a big three points and we will be fighting tooth and nail.

“Obviously I can see the parallels between this game and when we went to Liverpool and I think it is going to be an open game. We played against Steve’s team last year, at Derby, and they were expansive, they tried to get the ball down and dominate possession and they have some good players as well. It should make for an entertaining match.”

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