Norwich City’s Alex Neil prepares to cover new ground against Leicester City
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil has been portrayed as a Premier League poster boy for his relative youth and Scottish heritage, but the Norwich boss believes Leicester City are the real trailblazers under Claudio Ranieri.
The youngest manager in the top flight is planning to cover new ground on Saturday in Norwich's attempts to get the better of the Foxes.
'The one thing about them is they are a different proposition to what we have faced so far this season,' he said. 'Obviously I have watched all the videos and they end up 4-2-4 at times, which is highly unusual, with two wide players playing really high. They have a lot of pace and they are good on the counter-attack.
'We need to make sure we guard against that and we make best use of the ball when we have it.
'I've not come across him before but the way he sets his team up is different to anyone we have met, which is a great challenge for us and for me.
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'They are good at what they do, in terms of how they function as a group, and we have to make sure we impose our style of play on them.
'The lads have got good confidence at the moment and Leicester picked up a lot of points in the first few games but if we beat them I think we go above them, which tells you how well we have started.'
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Leicester may be held up as a role model for the Canaries, but Neil does not want to experience the same bumpy passage to safety endured by one of last season's promoted trio.
'With nine games to go they were pretty much down so I wouldn't want to get myself into that situation if I could help it,' he said. 'The fact they stayed up is all credit to them. Whether you win seven out of nine at the start or the finish, providing you get there, that is the most important thing. I'm sure I wouldn't like to depend on getting seven wins from our last nine games to stay up and so far we have gone about our work in a good, steady manner.
'If you look at the newer teams, like ourselves, or ones who have recently come up, like Leicester, when they do score goals it is really difficult to get that balance, so you have the cutting edge at the top end of the pitch and keep the back door shut. What you tend to find is either they will be free-scoring, but concede a few, or they can shut up shop but are limited in attack.
'To get that balance is extremely difficult when you are playing against the top teams in the country.'
Neil is confident two attack-minded sides will not produce a Carrow Road stalemate.
'They do score a lot of goals and we have to make sure defensively we do our jobs and limit the supply,' he said. 'We know how we will go about it and I don't think there is any chance it is going to be 0-0. Looking at the make-up of both teams we both want to be offensive and score goals. I would be really surprised if it finished 0-0.
'It should be a really entertaining game. The way we both play we edge towards trying to win a game rather than not losing it. That is why we have probably conceded more than we would like.'