Arsene Wenger reveals admiration for Norwich City chief Alex Neil

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger can see similarities in the early career of Norwich City's Alex Neil.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger can see similarities in the early career of Norwich City's Alex Neil. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil can count on an unlikely ally in Norwich City's Premier League survival struggle - Arsenal chief Arsene Wenger.

City slipped further into relegation danger, ahead of Manchester United's televised visit tomorrow, after a 1-0 top flight defeat at the Gunners left them two points from safety.

Norwich can haul themselves out of the bottom three with a win over the Red Devils and the longest-serving Premier League manager is backing the youngest to emerge stronger from his experiences this season battling at the wrong end of the table.

'I admire the work Alex Neil is doing at Norwich, because at 34 he is almost the same age I was, 33, when I started at the top level. You get used to the pressure and you gather experience at a very young age,' said Wenger, speaking in Arsenal's matchday programme ahead of the Canaries' recent visit.

'I think it's very interesting for him. It's hard physically and mentally to manage a team in the top leagues at that age, but I believe it helps you later in life to deal with the huge demands in the job early on. Overall I'd encourage people to start in management at a young age.

'For a while the (Noriwch) players have played with that anxiety, and sometimes they release the hand-brake when there is nothing more to lose and they really go for it. The fact they could find themselves in the Championship of course gives them a mixture of a desire to fight and some anxiety as well.'

Wenger has won three Premier League titles and six FA Cup during nearly two decades in north London, but the Frenchman was subjected to protests from pockets of disgruntled home supporters during City's 1-0 defeat which moved them back upto third.

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'I heard a lot about protests and what I would say is the majority of the Arsenal fans out-sang the so-called protesters, and that showed the backing Arsene has got,' said Neil. 'I don't think atmospheres have as much importance as people make out. I thought the Arsenal fans showed their support for the manager, as far as I was aware during the game.'