Alex Neil wants Norwich City to be streetwise against Ipswich Town
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
In the midst of the maelstrom Alex Neil will demand his Norwich City players hold their nerve to prevail in a Championship derby tussle of epic proportions at Carrow Road.
Neil has guided the Canaries to seven wins in their last nine league games to move within a point of their neighbours ahead of an East Anglian duel that needs little extra hype.
'We know what is at stake but we have to take the emotion out of it,' said the Norwich manager. 'What you can't do is let that emotion take over because that will be to the detriment of what we are trying to achieve. You have to be up for it and show as much commitment as the opposition, but remember what your task is rather than running about with heart and desire and no cleverness in your play. That is something we have had recently.
'You need those qualities but you also have to be level-headed. It is about three points and trying to go above them in the table.
'If you can out-work them and have the quality and a plan to break them down then you give yourself a better chance. We know the magnitude of the game.
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'To win five on the trot at any level is good, but when I looked at the squad and what we had when I first came in and what we were up against in this league I felt it was more than enough at this level to go on a good run.'
Neil's only reference point to Mick McCarthy is a shared affinity with the Ipswich manager's hometown, Barnsley, where the 33-year-old spent four seasons as a player before moving onto Mansfield and eventually Hamilton.
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'He has done fantastically well. He took a lot of players on free transfers or maybe players others didn't fancy and got them competing at the top end of the table. You don't achieve that if you don't know what you are doing,' said Neil. 'He has his team functioning the way he wants, they work really hard for him so a lot of credit must go to the manager. I don't know Mick at all to be honest. I have never spoken to him but from my time at Barnsley I know he had big connections to that part of the world and he was highly thought of.
'You can see him on the television what a big character he is and he is very experienced, so I will look forward to a chat after the game, but hopefully it will be me commiserating with him.'
Neil sees an Ipswich squad cast in the image of their manager.
'They are a really hard-working side. If you are not quite at it you will have a tough day,' he said. 'Any team in the top six at this stage has had a good season. The lad (Daryl) Murphy has scored goals but there are good strikers all across the board in the Championship so you have to be aware of that but I am a big believer if you stop it at source then the danger becomes less prevalent. These are the games you want to be involved in as a manager, live on television, to show people what you are all about and I am no different.'