Mick McCarthy is Alex Neil’s type of bloke but the Norwich City boss is in no mood for derby favours
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Mick McCarthy is Alex Neil's type of man but the Norwich City chief aims to inflict fresh derby misery on the Ipswich boss.
Neil holds the upper hand in their East Anglian tussles, although the Scot is taking nothing for granted ahead of tomorrow's latest instalment from Portman Road.
'Mick's record and his longevity speaks for itself,' he said. 'He has a certain style of play and he knows it inside out and so do his players and they will be fully committed. I have nothing but respect for Mick off the pitch. He is a good guy and a really pleasant man but that all goes to the side when the game starts. He wants to win, I want to win, and after the game we can sit down, have a chat and a beer.
'Their opening games just underline the fact matches in the Championship are tight. The first goal is so important. For the first 10 minutes against Bristol we didn't start great and we could have conceded but we got the goal and it settled everybody down. We need to make sure we get that first one because the opposition then have to open up and we can pick those holes.'
Neil has spent the derby build-up trying to take the heat out of the occasion for his players.
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'It is really easy to get yourselves up for these games. You don't need to worry about motivation. It is more trying to keep yourself calm,' he said. 'When you are the Norwich manager in the Championship there is always pressure on you to win games, but these are the ones you want to be involved in. There is a vested interest for everyone in Norfolk and Suffolk and losing against your rivals leaves a bitter taste. We don't want to experience that. For me, we don't prepare any differently in terms of the process. The one thing I would talk about more is keeping cool heads. In these games it is easy to get carried away and play the occasion. We have a job to do.'
Neil places a premium on the positive derby experiences of a core group within his squad as Norwich look to target a sixth win in the last seven cross-border tussles.
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'We have a lot of players who have won those games against Ipswich, know what it means to them and the fans,' he said. 'Whether it was the first or the tenth game of the season it means as much to the fans and the bragging rights are the big thing.
'I am pretty sure a lot of Ipswich and Norwich fans work together and we want to make sure our fans can go into work the next day and enjoy it. The gravity of the game is not lost on us. We know what it means to everyone and the players will attack it as such.
'First and foremost it is always a hard game. Mick gets his teams organised, they will certainly be up for it and we have to be up for it and if you don't match that then you can be physically dominated. We are going to have stand up to the fight and if we do then we have to make sure our quality comes through.'