Norwich City urged to follow Aston Villa into the light
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Norwich must emerge from the same dark place Aston Villa found themselves in during the early part of the Championship season.
Villa endured a difficult start to life outside the top flight for the first time in 29 years, in a run that claimed Roberto Di Matteo, and Canaries' boss Alex Neil believes Steve Bruce has already brought a streetwise edge to the Villans.
'They drew a lot of games earlier in the season, conceded a lot of late goals and that cost them points,' he said. 'The one thing they have managed to do since he went in is be more solid at the back and stop conceding those goals. I don't think they have been free-scoring, in terms of running over the top of teams, but they are big and strong and competitive. They have (Mile) Jedinak with (Ashley) Westwood and (Gary) Gardner, which is a physical three. We know exactly what is coming and as we have said in recent weeks it is whether we can physically compete and implement our style of play.
'When teams come down, sometimes they find the Championship a difficult place because they deem themselves to be Premier League players and they just have to turn up and win the games. This league is hard, physically and mentally it is demanding. Newcastle away and Barnsley away have to be treated in the same manner. Villa were probably victims of that at the start of the season and we seem to be right now.'
Neil knows Villa's visit to Carrow Road on Tuesday night is likely to be a fraught affair after just one win in the last eight in the Championship.
'It is not a case of fans coming to the game and applying any pressure on us. We have applied it to ourselves because we haven't won enough games,' he said. 'It is not about how the fans react or behave. They are responding to what we have produced, which is not enough. We have to respond and put in a good performance. It is not a place for shrinking violets. If you can't handle that it is going to be a problem.'