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'The play-off final was the most confident I've ever been in a game in my entire life' - Ex-City boss aiming for Preston repeat

Alex Neil is trying to emulate his Championship promotion success at Norwich City with Preston 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil is trying to emulate his Championship promotion success at Norwich City with Preston Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Alex Neil is drawing inspiration from Norwich City's memorable 2015 Wembley win to haul Preston into the Championship play-off picture.

The Scot capped a whirlwind first six months in the job at Carrow Road by plotting a superb 2-0 win over Middlesbrough in front of 40,000 City fans to seal promotion to the Premier League.

"At that stage when I was at Norwich we honestly went into every single game expecting to win," he said. "There wasn't a game we went into thinking 'we might lose against these'.

Russell Martin lifts the Championship play-off final trophy after beating Middlesbrough in 2015 at Wembley 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdRussell Martin lifts the Championship play-off final trophy after beating Middlesbrough in 2015 at Wembley Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

"The play-off final was the most confident I've ever been in a game in my entire life and that's absolutely bizarre because it was probably the biggest game I've ever had. I went into it absolutely convinced we were going to win, you could smell it off the rest of the team as well.

"I still think we need to get to that stage, to get to a point where we know the standards are there all the time and to never dip below them.

Nathan Redmond scored the second goal in the Championship play-off final win at Wembley in 2015 

Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNathan Redmond scored the second goal in the Championship play-off final win at Wembley in 2015 Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

"That's where the belief comes from, doing it day after day and it never dips - that's really difficult to recreate and it's why everyone is searching for it."

Neil admitted he inherited a City squad ripe to get back up.

"It was just the momentum and belief. One thing I will say is, that squad was ready to go up in every aspect that you need," he said, quoted on Lancashire Live.

"It had goals, power, size, quality, pace, experience, dashes of youth with the likes of Nathan Redmond and that little bit extra bit of x-factor.

"That squad was ready to go up, it just needed the right direction as much as anything else and for them to really believe that they could do it.

"To be honest it's difficult to put your finger on, people are trying to describe it about Liverpool at the moment and there's not one thing that does it.

"You look at guys like Jordan Henderson, who got slaughtered when he first went to Liverpool - now he's captain courageous and the driving force behind that team.

"The more guys you have like that, that are just relentless in their pursuit of trying to win stuff for you, it's absolutely priceless."

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