Newcastle United-bound Norwich City bear no scars of last trip to St James’ Park
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil has no interest in Norwich City's wretched record at the home of Newcastle United, writes Gavin Caney.
The Canaries head to the north east this evening looking to extend their fine run of five victories in a row in all competitions. But they'll have to do something they haven't done since August 2004 if they even want to ensure their momentum is not ended by a defeat.
That 2-2 draw is the only time in their last eight trips to St James' Park they haven't lost. And despite being thumped 6-2 on their more recent visit to the Magpies last season, Neil is confident his troops with have no mental block when they try to add futher points to their impressive early-season Championship tally.
The boss of City, who last won at Newcastle in 1988, said: 'I'm reminded nearly every week we haven't won somewhere in 20 years, or 17 years, or 17 attempts. To be fair we've lost one game away from home in my time here as a manager in the Championship. So these stats don't scare me.
'You make it difficult for yourself (at a place like Newcastle) if you don't perform well. There's pressure on their players because there's an expectation level, from them, about their team and how they should be performing.
'I think if you get caught up in that then you can make it a problem for yourself. But I think if you go, embrace the challenge and attack the game and show them how good you are there's nothing to be scared of. The biggest lesson from last season is to defend better. In the game we hit the woodwork twice, scored two goals and had numerous occasions where we could have scored. The fact is goals change games.
'There's no mental scars. The last time we played Newcastle we beat them in a really important game at our place. We've shown we're capable of beating them. We're looking forward to it and it should be a good game.'
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The Canaries almost have a clean bill of health for the showdown between two relegated Premier League sides with the the only injury problem, aside from long-term absentee Matt Jarvis, surrounding Youssouf Mulumbu (foot).
'Looking at their squad, I think going to their place would arguably be the hardest test (in the league) on paper,' added Neil ahead of taking on Rafael Benitez' pre-season title favourites.
'But on paper doesn't really matter. Whether we play really well and win doesn't mean we're going to go and win the league.
'If we don't play well and lose it doesn't mean we're going to fall down the table either. It's a one-off game for three points.'