In Alex we Trust says Norwich City chief executive David McNally
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Norwich City's Championship promotion bid is in secure hands with Alex Neil, insists chief executive David McNally.
The Scot was targeted by the Canaries' top brass in January to get City firmly back in the race for the Premier League, and Neil has guided his squad to within one game of a top flight return ahead of next week's Wembley play-off final against Middlesbrough.
'He has done as well as anyone could have hoped for and his management team have been superb. Whatever happens next week we are in a good place,' said McNally. 'Every game since Alex came here has felt like a must-win.
'I'm not sure if that is just the nature of the game now or the expectations we set and the Norwich supporters set. He has not had the opportunity to try anything really with fringe players or those who perhaps needed some game-time.
'We genuinely said to him, 'Just get us up the league'. We had six teams ahead of us, most by a significant number of points, and he delivered far more than that.
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'We were very close to automatic promotion, in terms of accumulating 2.2 points per game, and having a near 70pc win ratio. That is unheard of in a league as competitive as the Championship.
'Eddie Howe was Football League manager-of-the-decade and his win rate is around 40pc. Alex has over-delivered in that respect.'
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City booked their Wembley trip by edging out East Anglian rivals Ipswich 4-2 on aggregate.
'We're in football for those type of games,' said McNally, speaking on Monday afternoon at Carrow Road. 'I know that they are tense and scary at times but they are also games to savour and enjoy. I always have nerves on the day of the game and that was no different with Ipswich.
'We've just witnessed the biggest game in East Anglian derby history and we have won it, so we are euphoric. The third goal was very helpful on the day. If you get a two-goal lead against 10 it is difficult to come back in a game of that intensity and Cameron (Jerome's) brilliant finish made up for the one he missed earlier. I'm joking, of course, because he has been excellent for us.'
Much was made in the build-up to both derbies regarding Norwich's more expensively-assembled squad, but McNally was quick to point out the key contributions of some value-for-money recruits.
'A lot was said about comparing us with Ipswich in terms of the cost,' he said. 'But if I look at what we paid for the likes of John Ruddy, Russell Martin, Bradley Johnson those are fantastic players at the top of their profession who didn't cost a lot and who have delivered so much great value back to the football club.
'In my six years this is the best squad we have ever had, and I include the Premier League years in that.
'We have some tremendous footballers and whatever league we are in next season I doubt it requires a huge overhaul, but I am confident we will be a in really good place come next week.'