Premier League survival not history is Alex Neil’s guiding principle at Norwich City

Norwich manager Alex Neil looks to topple Manchester United. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwich manager Alex Neil looks to topple Manchester United. Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil has enough to worry about trying to guide Norwich City to Premier League safety without the burden of history.

Neil offered a wry smile when it was pointed out to him mighty Manchester United have never been doubled by a promoted side in the modern era.

City's landmark 2-1 win at Old Trafford feels like a distant memory now and the Scot accepts the FA Cup finalists look a different proposition ahead of the return on Saturday lunchtime.

'They have the boy (Marcus) Rashford with his pace at the top end of the pitch to give them that counter-attacking threat,' said Neil. 'With Maroune (Fellaini) suspended as well they don't have that aerial threat as much. We have to get that balance. We can't go gung ho and make the game very open. Everton tried to do that in the first-half of the FA Cup semi-final and United could arguably have put the game out of sight. We have to defend as a unit but we have pace in certain areas to hurt the opposition.

'I wouldn't think the cup final is a distraction for them. They will still want to apply pressure to the top four and the players within the team will want to be in the line up for the cup final.

'We believed we could get something when we went there before and last week at Arsenal so this should be no different. Games in the Premier League hinge on small decisions, by players and officials.'

Neil is not altering his belief Norwich need seven points from their final three fixtures to survive, despite slipping deeper into relegation trouble last weekend.

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'I think seven points from nine now will be good enough. At this stage with what is at stake that should be probably do it,' he said. 'If you look at the course of this season so far none of the teams have managed to consistently put that type of winning run together and that is why we are where we are. What I would say is the one thing we have done when we pick up points is to do it in flurries. We took seven from nine recently and then three wins out of four over Christmas time. Our wins have tend to come in bunches.

'Of course you are concerned when the others are picking up points as well but if you look at it Sunderland left it late to get a penalty at Stoke and Palace missed a penalty at Newcastle. It really is fine margins.'

Norwich would move out of the bottom three with a win in the lunchtime kick-off, and Neil is looking to build on last weekend's performance against Arsenal.

'We know this is a crunch match for us and we have to apply pressure back onto them. We have to make sure we do our part,' he said. 'Everyone knows the situation in the sense we play first so I don't think it is going to have huge implications in terms of how we approach it or how they do for that matter. All the teams realise we have to win games.'

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