Brentford win a must for all parties at Norwich City
- Credit: Andy Kearns/Focus Images Limited
Alex Neil knows it is imperative to keep the good news rolling with a long overdue Championship win against Brentford.
City return to Carrow Road for the first time since league defeats at QPR and Derby prolonged a dire stretch, but buoyed by Martin Olsson's contract extension earlier this week and positive injury news around key men Jonny Howson and Ivo Pinto.
Neil, however, is under no illusions a frustrated home support crave three points to underline City is finally moving in the right direction after a dark period.
'For the players, they need a win, for me, I need a win, for the fans, they need a win. It's for all of us,' he said. 'Just to get back on track and turn these positive messages about players coming back from injury and new contracts into positive results.
'Ultimately the main crux of the issue is we need to get that win under our belts.
'It is not really a case of the fans getting behind me. They just need to get behind the team because they are the most important people who have to perform on the pitch. I want them to try and back the players as much as they can. If we can get a fast start it helps the fans and the players and makes for a better atmosphere as we go on. The last thing we want is the fans to get edgy, because it transmits to the players.'
Brentford occupy a unique place in Neil's Norwich timeline after the Bees inflicted the first defeat of his tenure, following his move south from Hamilton, and the Scot is out to avoid any repeat.
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'I have quite a few memories of that game,' he said. 'Getting a phone call on the Friday night to say Gary O'Neil had pretty much crushed his toe with the icing machine. I had to put Steven Whittaker in the middle of the park with Bradley Johnson and to be fair at that stage Bradley had always played on the left. It wasn't ideal.
'On their day they are a very good side. I watched them play against QPR this season and they were very good. They can be hot and cold and they have gone through a difficult run of late so they will be determined to end that. They have scored 24 goals, (Scott) Hogan has 11 of those and I think his movement is really good. He is certainly one of their biggest threats.
'They played a three at the back last week but that was not how they normally set up. I think it might be because they were playing against a front two, after having trouble dealing with Blackburn's two the previous week. I wouldn't expect them to go with a three against us but we have played against that five times this season and won every time. We are well-equipped.'
Norwich may have slipped to a fifth straight defeat at Derby last weekend but there was a notable upsurge in their intensity and collective pressing.
'We have to take the good bits in that game and then build on it. I felt it was a step in the right direction,' said Neil. 'On another day we can perhaps even win that game because there was nothing in it. Our pressing was better, we controlled most of the first half, they had a little spell after the break and the fact Alex (Tettey) became restricted in his movement and Youssouf (Mulumbu) naturally tired, because he had been out for two months, caused us an issue. If those lads had been fighting fit we would probably have done better and gone on and got a positive result.
'Particularly away from home you are going to need guys who will battle, scrap and be physical and Alex and Youssouf certainly do that.
'I remember after losing that time to Brentford we went to Birmingham and set up not to be beat and it was one of the most boring games I have ever watched but it gave us that base and then we added the attacking element. I am hoping Derby last week can be similar to Birmingham the last time we were in this division.'