Alex Neil - Norwich City in the mood to right a wrong against Rotherham
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil is warning his promotion-chasing Norwich City squad they would never forgive themselves if they fail to take the battle for the top two right to the wire.
The Scot is a hard-headed realist who readily accepts the odds on automatic promotion lengthened considerably after slipping up at home to rivals Middlesbrough.
Yet Neil has seen enough of Championship combat at the sharp end to insist the plot line is guaranteed to veer from the script over these final two league games, starting with Saturday's trip to Rotherham. Neil insisted the manner of City's Boro defeat could have a positive impact.
'The players were disappointed with the outcome and I think sometimes when you get that sort of setback it can galvanise the squad and that is the sense I get,' he said. 'We feel we have a wrong to put right and that sort of motivation for a player, as well as the staff, is good fuel to kick us on over these last few games.
'We had a full de-brief, as we always do after games, and it is not about digging them out. I try to make it as constructive as I can. I was just trying to understand why we didn't start well and get some feedback from them. That is really important. We showed them the match and the statistics behind why it didn't go for us and also when we did improve later on how we could have broken them down. There was no stone left unturned.'
Neil knows charity will be in short supply against a Rotherham outfit with their own battles to win at the opposite end of the Championship.
'I know Steve (Evans) well and they will be well up for it. He gets his players motivated and we are going to have to be up for the challenge,' said Neil. 'I am hoping with the quality in my team if we can match them for endeavour that will come through in the end.
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'We know what we are coming up against and hopefully we can perform on the day. That is what it ultimately boils down to.
'All the preparation is absolutely crucial but if you don't perform over the 90 minutes then it doesn't matter how you prepare.'