Alex Neil ‘surprised and disappointed’ by David McNally’s Norwich City exit

Norwich City manager Alex Neil got his reign off to a winning start at Bournemouth in 2015. Picture:

Norwich City manager Alex Neil got his reign off to a winning start at Bournemouth in 2015. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil admitted on Tuesday afternoon Norwich City had lost a 'really important figure' after David McNally's shock resignation as chief executive.

McNally was a key factor in bringing Neil south from Hamilton and the duo had forged a close working relationship before McNally's resignation was 'unanimously accepted' by the Norwich board following Saturday's 1-0 Premier League defeat against Manchester United.

'I am disappointed that he has left the club,' said Neil, speaking at his pre-match press call prior to the crucial home game against Watford on Wednesday night. 'I had a really good relationship with David. He showed nothing but trust and faith in my, along with Michael and Delia he brought me to the club, so surprised, disappointed and I think we have lost a really important figure for us. Whatever happened over the weekend had nothing to do with me.

'After the game like everybody else when you lose an important match he was really upset. The one thing we did do was talking in general terms about the match and the games to come so in that respect it wasn't out of the ordinary. I am not going to get into the nuts and bolts of what I said to him or vice versa. It came out of the blue a little bit. It wasn't anything we planned or hoped for.'

Chairman Ed Balls has already made it clear Neil remains an essential part of the way ahead for City's top brass but the Scot's immediate focus is on keeping alive Norwich's faint survival hopes.

'I am the manager of Norwich City. David has made his decision and that was not my doing. As far as I am concerned my only focus is a game on Wednesday and one at the weekend and both are crucially important to this club,' he said. 'I will look at my contribution at the end of the season, I will look at my team individually and their contribution and the bigger picture in terms of the club and what we have achieved on and off the pitch. Obviously recruitment is a big part of that, but there are other things that needed to be analysed.

'I will speak to the powers that be but in football nothing is off the table. I will judge how I performed and how others performed at the end of the season and I am sure people will be judging me. I don't fear for my job. In my position I don't think managers can afford to be fearful, you have to be focused because if you are scared then it undermines your position and players and fans will get that sense from you. You can't show weakness. This is the club where I have been given an opportunity and unfortunately we are not in the position we want to be but we need to crack on and see where it takes us.'

Ryan Bennett returns to the Norwich City squad for the Hornets' visit after a viral infection but Jonny Howson has been diagnosed with a grade two knee ligament injury that will see him sidelined for six to eight weeks.