Norwich City look to deliver a knockout blow in heavyweight Newcastle duel

Norwich City manager Alex Neil is demanding another big Carrow Road display.
Picture by Paul Cheste

Norwich City manager Alex Neil is demanding another big Carrow Road display. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil knows the tremors from Norwich City's Carrow Road contest against Newcastle United will be felt right around the Championship.

The Canaries' chief was keen to avoid fuelling the growing hype around a heavyweight showdown that carries ramifications for the promotion race.

'From our point of view it is three points and we need them. The biggest thing would be what it does for the players' confidence,' said Neil. 'If you perform well in a game of this nature then perhaps, outside, the perception is different compared to a normal game. We are capable of scoring goals, we are top scorers at home, and they have a really rigid defence. Both are desperate to win and that could make for an open match. Sometimes if you go into these type of games and you are not in good form people write you off and it goes the other way so it is hard to predict anything.'

Neil dismissed the notion Norwich carry the same burden of expectation as Rafa Benitez's lavishly-assembled squad.

'Many would argue they have the most expensive squad in this league and players who, up to this point, had played in the Premier League,' he said. 'I don't think we have the same level of expectation, in the fact they spent a huge amount of money, albeit they also recouped a huge amount, whereas we have been relatively modest, within reason, in comparison to Newcastle and Aston Villa. They have certainly been a lot more active in terms of the money spent. That carries a weight of expectation.

'Equally we have been in the Premier League for four of the past six seasons and there is an expectation that comes with that. If we perform we should be up the top end of the table. I would argue we did cope with that before a really horrendous spell that went on for nine or ten games. I am still trying to get my head around that. There is nothing we can do about that but focus on the present.'

City have lost only one of their last eight at Carrow Road and Neil's focus is staying on message.

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'It is just hard work and even through the difficult period it was always going to be a case of believing in what we are trying to do,' he said. 'The one thing we have got here is talented players. We have had to focus on the other aspects of what we need to do, to be resilient, well-organised and disciplined. You put those all together then you can pick up points. It is going to be difficult to catch Newcastle, based on their form throughout the season, but that said, we came close the last time we went up to the top two. I remember going to Rotherham and losing after having a man sent off when if we had won we would arguably have gone up in the top two. If we can go on any sort of run like that then nothing is impossible.'