Norwich City manager Alex Neil plans to emulate Crystal Palace’s upward mobility
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Alex Neil is using Crystal Palace as inspiration for the next phase of his evolutionary plan at Norwich City.
The Scot's promotion success underlined his own managerial credentials and validated the plaudits lavished on the squad he inherited who were routinely labelled too good for the Championship.
But both parties now have to prove themselves all over again in the difficult terrain of the Premier League.
'The one thing with football is if you are not trying to improve then you stand still and others by-pass you,' said Neil. 'You look at Palace and I think they are quoted saying they want European competition so that tells you where there ambitions lie, but we have our own agenda. They are trying to move up a level as well. I think Crystal Palace in the last few seasons would have been prioritising safety but now they want to push into the top 10 and talking about Europe tells you how expectations have changed.
'If you look at a lot of their players a lot of them have played Championship and League One earlier in their careers, it is not as if they have been full of Premier League stars. They have come through and proven it and we are hoping we have players who can do the same.'
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City may have left the Championship behind but Neil expects a similar tactical test at Carrow Road.
'It will be a difficult game and Palace have signed some good players. We have to try and nullify them and I hope my boys do ourselves justice,' he said. 'They are a good counter-attacking team with pace in wide areas who look to get in behind teams. They are relatively direct and have good quality in the final third, but you are always most vulnerable when you are in possession.
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'Last year we were well used to counter-attacks because we had most of the ball and in that aspect we improved a lot towards the end of last season. We cut down on the number of goals we conceded from counter-attacks to something like 37pc, so that was a drastic improvement, and we are going to have to improve again this year.'
Eagles' boss Alan Pardew was lavish in his praise of Neil's early managerial achievements during the build up, and the Scot insists the feeling is mutual.
'He has done great and he is very experienced. At Newcastle he was under a bit of pressure and turned it around and before he left they were doing fantastic,' said Neil. 'The same at Crystal Palace, to build on what (Tony) Pulis managed to achieve he picked them up and carried them into the top 10.
'I think the one thing is with managers they realise how hard the job is because there are so many who give it a bash and you never hear from them again, so the ones who attain a level of success you give them the credit they deserve because it is a difficult job. Fair play to him for that.'