Advantage Norwich City in the Championship promotion race for Alex Neil
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil feels it is advantage Norwich in the race to the Premier League after staying in touch with the Championship's title hopefuls.
City were poised to drop out of the top six until Cameron Jerome and Bradley Johnson struck late on to secure a 2-1 midweek win at Blackburn that ensured Norwich kept pace with their rivals.
Neil believes the true value of a seventh win in nine since his arrival may become clearer in next week's latest round of key fixtures.
'Beating Blackburn was huge. It was a crucial win,' he said. 'The teams above us were at home to clubs towards the bottom end so we had the hardest game, but it was imperative we won. If we had lost and they had we get off the hook but they fact they won made it important we did.
'I think next midweek we have Wigan at home and a lot of them are away so it gives us an opportunity to get another win chalked up and try to push on even more.'
Norwich also have leaders Derby, second-placed Middlesborough and this weekend's derby foes Ipswich all to face at Carrow Road.
'You have to respect sides like Derby and Middlesbrough and Brentford and Bournemouth,' he said. 'They are good teams and extremely difficult to beat. When you play those sides it really just comes down to who plays well on the day.'
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City's squad have been lauded for their quality this season, but Neil was impressed with the desire at Ewood Park to resist a final flourish from Rovers.
'It showed the character of the squad,' he said. 'The one thing about the teams I have been involved in is they never give up and that team (at Blackburn) showed they were going to continue to try and prod and get that goal and then we defended our box like men. We put our bodies on the line, we stuck our head in where it hurt to make sure you don't concede and we did that for the last couple of minutes.
'You can talk about that all you like but how much do you really want it? I think it just confirms again in the players' heads that the things we are doing are the right things. It will give them a huge shot in the arm so that regardless if they get a setback in the game they can bounce back and get the win.'
Neil admits Norwich have not looked back since the only loss of his short reign against Brentford last month.
'The players have been great,' he said. 'It is not always going to be plain sailing because form will go up and down but providing I see them giving maximum effort and the structure is right with players filling in the areas I have told them to do during the week I will have no issues.
'I was very critical after Brentford about the bits and pieces you need and the work-rate to be a big team, but since then they have really turned it around and fixed that side of things.'