Home is where the hurt is for Norwich City’s Championship rivals
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Nothing personal but Alex Neil wants to make Gary Hooper's Norwich City reunion as uncomfortable as possible.
The Canaries' chief is downplaying the significance of the striker's first competitive return with Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday evening, with Neil urging his squad to make Carrow Road a feared destination for opponents over the coming months.
'Home form is going to be absolutely crucial for us this season, to make Carrow Road a fortress, or whatever label you want to put on it,' he said. 'Basically we don't want people coming here to enjoy playing at Carrow Road. Whoever comes here needs to realise it is going to be a tough game and we are going to be up for it.
'It's not just him, we don't want any of their players to be the story. The thing with football is players come and go. You are always going to come across them down the line. Whether Gary scores or plays well my focus will not be on him. I am pretty sure his focus won't be on me. He will want to play as well as he can, if he is playing, we just want to win the game. It is not about him or me but Norwich and Sheffield Wednesday.
'Both teams won on the opening weekend, so that tells you despite the disappointments of last season things can turn quickly for players, fans, everybody. What you did last week in football doesn't matter.'
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City had to deal with their own demons following relegation but the Owls fell at the final hurdle in the Championship play-off final. Neil is in no doubt Carlos Carvalhal's squad will be competing for promotion again.
'I would expect them to be one of the teams at the top of the table,' he said. 'They have good experience, they had a good season last year, I think they have added to the squad and they have lads who have seen it and done it. Looking at the team, I think their middle to front is the biggest threat. They want to work the ball forward quickly, work off two centre forwards and get it wide and into the box. They have got capable forwards who on their day can hurt you. I don't expect them to sit in - not the way Sheffield Wednesday play and what they are good at. They won't show any fear. They will have a go.'
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