Alex Neil interview: Looking forward to Norwich City’s return to the Championship

Alex Neil is backing Ivo Pinto to be a big player for Norwich City in the Championship. Picture by P

Alex Neil is backing Ivo Pinto to be a big player for Norwich City in the Championship. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Time to look forward is Alex Neil's simple message as he strives to banish the disappointment of Premier League relegation and gear up for a major assault on the Championship.

Neil's dissection of City's failings was brutal and swift in the aftermath of demotion on a bittersweet night against Watford.

The Scot was still feted by those inside Carrow Road on a lap of appreciation after the final whistle, a moment which Neil admitted on stage at the end-of-season dinner had left him 'embarrassed' for failing to deliver.

'There were a few things I needed to get off my chest. Anyone who comes into contact with me will realise I am my worst critic and the disappointment I felt going down was considerable,' he said. 'From that point onwards that was the final act on last season, in my eyes, and it was important to share that with the fans and my players. From this point onwards my sole focus is getting ready for next season. There is always going to be reflection and this is the ideal time now with no football being played.

'The analysis of the season and of individuals becomes deeper but the quicker we start to put processes in place for next season, the quicker the fixtures come out, then pre-season and then potential signings and I am sure the focus will move to the new season and the challenges ahead. It doesn't get any easier after a week or so but it makes me a hell of a lot more determined to put it right next season.'

Neil insists there are genuine grounds for optimism.

'I will take the lessons and implement them and probably get back to a style that I am more comfortable with and that my teams are more reknowned for; certainly this group is best at,' he said. 'When you go into the Premier League and try to do that it is difficult. One of the biggest lessons I have learned is to have the courage of your convictions. The good thing is I am not dropping down into something I don't know. I think we are stronger going back down with this squad than the squad we had when we went up. You look at Timm Klose, he is a major asset we brought in from Champions League football, we have Robbie Brady who is young and full of potential, (Ivo) Pinto, who in my opinion could be a really big asset for us next season in terms of his pace at that level. There is a host of factors why we can be stronger.'

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Neil knows the likes of Brady and Klose will be among the most coveted members of his squad in the summer transfer swirl, but the Scot is not worried about trying to compete with the spending power of relegated duo Newcastle United and Aston Villa.

'It depends on if or when clubs come in for them. The simple fact is there is no reason for me to move them on,' he said. 'I brought them to the club because I thought they could be a big part of things moving forward and my view hasn't changed. I had a good chat with both and I won't divulge the personal nature of that but what transpires in the summer will dictate what happens.

'Money doesn't guarantee success. Newcastle spent in the region of £80m last season and didn't stay in the Premier League. If it went on who spent what then they would still be there. Of course it is easier if there is a never-ending tap of money but for me if you have the organisation, the preparation and a strong, united squad it goes a long, long way. What you have to remember is we have quality internationals right through our squad here. The onus is on us as management and players to try and start strongly and get the fans onside to show them we have the scope to get ourselves back up. Without question it is possible. There are no doubts in my mind.'