Sport Soccer

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Norwich boss Alex Neil in bullish mood following relegation

Published 12/05/2016 | 07:51

Alex Neil refused to discuss his future at Norwich
Alex Neil refused to discuss his future at Norwich

Alex Neil was bullish after Norwich's relegation from the Barclays Premier League, hinting he wishes to continue as manager and guide the Canaries back to the top flight.

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Neil cut a disconsolate figure after Norwich's demotion was confirmed on Wednesday night despite a 4-2 defeat of Watford at Carrow Road.

The 34-year-old Scot was appointed in January 2015 and guided the Canaries to the top flight via the Championship play-offs 12 months ago. He was non-committal over his future in the immediate aftermath of relegation.

Norwich issued a statement on Thursday saying their "immediate priority" was appointing a successor to David McNally, who resigned as chief executive following last Saturday's loss to Manchester United.

And the statement did not address Neil's future. He will sit down with Norwich owners Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones at the end of the season.

Speaking moments after the statement was issued and ahead of Sunday's match at managerless Everton, Neil suggested his preference is to stay on.

"I don't think there's a huge deal to resolve for me," he said.

"I've just got to reflect on my part and have a chat with the owners.

"Those initial chats have already taken place. Sometimes the best thing to do is to sit down for a couple of hours and really go through everything top to tail.

"The one thing about me, I'm up for the fight all the time. That's not an issue for me.

"I don't think there's any question I've got what it takes. I've done it on two separate occasions at two clubs.

"At this moment in time I'm just trying to come to terms with what has happened this season.

"It's a hard one to accept, but there's no question in my mind it'll make me stronger going forwards."

Neil insisted he was not being deliberately evasive about his future, but said it was not possible to make promises.

"I want to make something clear - I am not suggesting at any stage that I am leaving the club," he added.

"It is nothing like that. I just think we need to have a clear direction in which we are going and that's important.

"I am not trying to fuel the fire or add to speculation or anything like it.

"I don't think you can ever promise anything in football."

Neil led Norwich into the Premier League five months after joining from Hamilton.

But with the blow of relegation raw, the Scot outlined his desire to bounce back and said Norwich do not need to sell any members of their squad.

"Without question it hurts," Neil added.

"I don't normally struggle to sleep - I couldn't sleep last night.

"We're not in any need to sell any players. So if people are going to want to try to tempt players from Norwich, they're going to have to get their money out.

"We won't be selling players on the cheap."

He will, though, be assessing his players' desire for life in the Championship.

Neil added: "I've got to look at them straight in the eye and find out if they're up for the fight. If they're not, that becomes a problem."

Neil was serenaded by supporters during and after the win over Watford, but advised his family to stay away in case of an angry reaction.

He said: "I'm really, really grateful for that (reception). I told my wife to keep my kids at home, just because you don't know how it's going to pan out."

Neil rued the missed opportunity against Sunderland last month, when Norwich were beaten 3-0 to lose the initiative in the survival fight.

He added: "We did have opportunities. With five games remaining we were four points above Sunderland with Sunderland at home.

"If we had won that Sunderland game, I think everybody would be celebrating the fact we stayed in the league and that would've been looked at as a really good season.

"Unfortunately that wasn't to be the case."

Press Association

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