No cat-and-mouse games for Norwich City ahead of Blackpool visit
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil is not expecting a game of hide-and-seek against a Blackpool side who need Championship points just as desperately as Norwich City.
The Canaries have encountered numerous road blocks at Carrow Road this season, with a number of visitors happy to cede territory and possession in a bid to frustrate. Charlton, Leeds and Rotherham all successfully adopted a policy of containment but Neil expects the Tangerines' perilous league status to alter that dynamic.
'At this stage of the season they need to win games as much as we do for different reasons. I don't think they will come here, sit in, and aim for a draw,' he said. 'They are at the stage where if you want to have any real impact on the league, at either end, you have to win. These type of games you are on a hiding to nothing. If we roll them over 3-0, 4-0, it is expected and if you don't it is a disaster. What we need to do is make sure we stay calm and go about our business and if we do that hopefully we should get our rewards.'
Clark inherited a daunting survival mission but home league wins against Millwall and Brighton have stirred a degree of optimism. Neil, however, accepts the Tangerines' wretched away form will be viewd as a more accurate barometer.
'Of course we would expect to win but the one thing we need to guard against as players, fans and the club is complacency and thinking this game is a done deal and all we have to do is turn up,' he said. 'That is certainly not going to be the case. They won their last home game, they were 2-0 up at Watford, albeit Watford went on and won comfortably, so you can't discount any team. We have to be on our mettle. We've spoken about playing these type of games, particularly at home, and we've worked on it all week. If you turn up thinking you have beaten someone then that won't happen. You have to work as hard as them and hope your quality will take control of the game. If they are prepared to work harder than us, if we are not functioning as a group, then it will be a difficult day but I don't expect that to be the case.'
Neil detected signs of progress in a new-look shape at Birmingham which produced a resolute defensive effort, but the Scot wants more going forward.
'I think the attitude has been excellent in the last week-and-a-half. They have really bought into what I want,' he said. 'You saw that to a degree at Birmingham, albeit the balance wasn't quite right.
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'The best way I would describe how I want us to play is to dominate the ball in midfield areas. That generally means if you play one up top you have a spare man in there but I don't think at Birmingham we got the balance right in terms of when the ball goes up to that frontman getting the support in wide areas and midfield. It is something we are looking to try and strengthen and get bodies to hit the box.'