Personal crusade is driving Alex Neil on during Norwich City’s promotion push

Norwich City manager Alex Neil during the Sky Bet Championship match at the American Express Communi

Norwich City manager Alex Neil during the Sky Bet Championship match at the American Express Community Stadium, Brighton and Hove. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil's burning desire to justify the faith of Norwich's board is driving him on to lead the Canaries' Premier League crusade.

The 33-year-old had won 13 of his first 19 games in charge before Friday's 1-0 Championship loss to Middlesbrough after emerging as the surprise choice of City's top brass to replace Neil Adams in January.

Neil remains on course to complete his personal mission and plot an instant top flight return for the club, despite the latest league setback against the Teessiders.

'When you are at a club like Norwich the expectancy level is always going to be there but I was fully aware of it,' said Neil. 'That is part and parcel of what drives me as a manager and a person, the expectations people put on you and you don't want to let them down.

'That pressure was there when I came in at seventh in the table but to be honest whether I came in midway through the season or at the very start you expect that here, because it is difficult to bounce back at the first attempt.

'I think, if anything, me coming in when I did worked in my favour and maybe there was a sense of under-achievement, which was why they brought me to the club.'

Neil's squad have proved already they can fight against the odds.

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'Momentum is a huge thing in football and if you are a team who has been relegated you are used to getting beat. Trying to change that to be a confident team in the ascendancy can take some doing. We have managed it,' he said. 'We are going forward and believing we can win every game.

'The fact we had 10 or 11 points to claw back really meant we couldn't afford too many slip ups when I arrived.

'My first aim was to make sure we secured a play-off place and then I felt if we could build up a bit of momentum and get the team functioning as well as we would have a chance of automatic (promotion). To make up those 11 points against sides near the top who were used to winning shows you just how well we have done.'

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