Killer instinct missing for Alex Neil in Norwich City’s early Championship work

Norwich City manager Alex Neil is looking for his side to show a ruthless streak. Photo: Chris Radbu

Norwich City manager Alex Neil is looking for his side to show a ruthless streak. Photo: Chris Radburn/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Alex Neil admits the killer instinct is missing from Norwich City's early Championship work, ahead of Saturday's trip to freescoring Nottingham Forest.

City's progress to within two points of the early pacesetters has been forged on pragmatism rather than full-blown power surges, but Neil adopted a measured tone on Friday in identifying his key areas for improvement.

'Are we saying we have played the best football we can? No, no-one is saying that, not even the players, There is more to come once we have everyone fit and firing,' he said. 'What I would like to see is us kill off games more. We were 2-0 up and comfortable against Cardiff and Wigan and we should have put both to bed and it came back to haunt us. We had to work considerably harder than I would have hoped we needed to do for the final 20 minutes. It is basically about taking our chances.

'Against Cardiff, Alex Pritchard goes through with the keeper to beat and if that goes in it is 3-0 and the scoreline possibly ends up four or five. Likewise, in the last game Alex had two good opportunities and so did Russell (Martin), when he put one just past the post, and Cameron (Jerome) as well. It is that wee bit of clinical intent and if you manage that then the final quarter of the game becomes more comfortable.'

Neil ran the rule over Forest at close quarters during their midweek 2-2 league draw against Rotherham.

'I think they are a difficult team to play against,' he said. 'They have 11 points, so that is a good start, and I have actually seen them twice, against Wigan and Rotherham the other night. They make the pitch big, they have goals in the team, without doubt, they are averaging two a game and they have not lost at home this season so it is going to be a good test. We have to go with the belief if we play as well as we can we can win.

'The one thing we have shown already this year is we have goals in us. That was probably something everyone was concerned about, myself included, regarding whether we had enough in the team. We wanted another centre forward but so far we have shown we have, and that is with us missing chances as well which in that respect is a good sign. You never know how the game will pan out.

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'We will go with the intention to dominate the ball, sometimes it doesn't happen and then you have to be prepared to get yourself back into shape and work hard to get it back. We want to implement our style, they will be the same.'

City return to the Midlands for the first time since a 3-0 Championship defeat at Birmingham that prompted plenty of introspection.

'I said after that game some of the lads who had been relatively solid for us played as poorly as I have ever seen, on that particular day,' said Neil. 'That is a rarity for me because they have done well so I don't expect a repeat. We have played seven and lost one, and it wasn't even the fact we lost the game but rather the manner of the defeat that was perhaps the thing.'