No need to tinker for Alex Neil ahead of Norwich City’s Wembley bow

Gary ONeil knows what it takes to win a Wembley play-off final. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Ima

Gary ONeil knows what it takes to win a Wembley play-off final. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil craved normality in the midst of the madness that surrounded the build-up to Norwich City's Wembley preparations.

The Canaries' chief took his players to the national stadium at the start of last week, as ticket fever engulfed the county, prior to retreating to the familiarity of the club's Colney training complex.

City returned south on Sunday, in sharp contrast to Aitor Karanka's Teessiders, who opted to fly from the north-east on Friday afternoon to their base near Watford and use Arsenal's training complex, before watching the League Two play-off final on Saturday.

'The structure of my week is nearly always the same. I don't like deviating at all,' said Neil. 'I want the players to have their processes and if it's not broke, there is no reason to try and fix it or change something. If you are travelling somewhere else, staying somewhere you don't know or training in a foreign place, they are little things but they can sap the energy.

'You are looking at new scenery. I don't think we need any of that distraction. That is why we were at Colney and into the flow of our normal week. We have had real success doing things the way we have so far and it would be silly to move away from that.'

Neil wants his experienced men to make their voices heard, with the likes of Gary O'Neil a serial play-off winner at Wembley.

'We have lads who have played in big games, whether it is for their club or international sides, and hopefully that can stand us in good stead on the day,' he said. 'I look for all my experienced players to help the younger lads and pass on those experiences, positive and negative, because sometimes you can learn more from the negative ones.

Most Read

'As a young player the first thing you tend to do is turn to the older ones to ask them if they have faced a new situation, how they dealt with it and so on, and it is an older player's responsibility to pass that on.

'Gary has been successful twice, that is fantastic for him, and I hope he is successful a third time.'

The City boss stressed the need for bouts of relaxation during the long build-up last week, and Neil tried to stick to his own mantra.

'I structure my week the same as the players and what I need to focus on and when I have done those tasks it is time for me to go away and speak to my family,' he said. 'That's probably my relaxing time as much as anything else. This period for me is really intense in terms of making sure we're fully prepared. I don't think you ever fully switch off but there is only so many hours you can work.'