Revenge is a dirty word for Alex Neil ahead of Norwich City’s Middlesbrough reunion
- Credit: Archant
Revenge is not a word in Alex Neil's vocabulary ahead of Norwich City's third meeting of the season against Middlesbrough in Monday's Wembley play-off final shoot-out.
The Teessiders completed a league double at Carrow Road last month, which effectively consigned Neil's men to the play-offs, in their bid to join champions Bournemouth and Watford in the Premier League next season.
'No I wouldn't say we owe them one. It is a one-off game,' he said. 'It is never nice to lose any game but this is a winner-takes-all and one team goes to the Premier League.
'They are good at what they do. They counter-attack really well. They are organised and we have had a look at that home match numerous times. We have to learn as much as we can from it but at times you can over-analyse these things.'
Boro boss Aitor Karanka has conceded the Teessiders' defensive resolution was tested to the limit in that 1-0 Carrow Road win after cashing in on Alex Tettey's early own goal, but Neil is predicting a different encounter at Wembley.
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'I think the fact they got the early goal completely changed the complexion of the match because they sat really deep behind the ball and literally defended the whole of the game,' he said. 'If there is not an early goal, particularly by them, I don't see the game panning out that way at all.
'I've watched their play-off games and numerous other games they played recently and although they do have a similar style in nearly all of the games I think in the one agains us, in particular, they adopted a different approach. I've already looked at it in the region of double figures at least so we know exactly where our frailties lay in that game and how to improve on them and that's something we've touched on with the players and will continue to bed into them between now and game time.
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'I have watched Boro enough now, I know what they are capable of and what we are capable of doing. 90pc of the planning is already done, it is tweaking the 10pc that can make the difference over these next few days.'
Boro captain Jonathan Woodgate and Karanka have both tried to thurst the favourite's tag in Norwich's direction but Neil rejects that notion.
'I don't think Norwich is the favourites,' he said. 'It is two teams who were separated by one point over the course of a season, two very different teams. Any previous league meetings have no bearing. It is who is focused on the day. They have a defensive record that speaks for itself.
'We have scored a lot of goals so it depends on who performs on the day. It might take a bit of magic or a mistake from an individual that is the deciding factor.'