Preston North End are the next visitors to Carrow Road this Saturday (3pm) and they come to Norfolk under the tutelage of one Alex Neil.
Neil was of course fired as City manager last season before turning up in Lancashire for his next managerial gig with PNE. Speaking about his impending return to Norfolk though, this is what he`s been saying to his club`s official website
“I think naturally you’re always going to look at the game because there are prior connections with the club but it doesn’t mean any more than any other game in terms of points and that’s the most important thing for us.
‘Although we want to go there and we want to win, it’s not for any other reason than the fact that we want to climb up the table.’
The 36 year old came in as an unknown from Hamilton, where he had worked with a very small budget, and I`ll be the first to admit I`d never heard of him when David McNally unveiled his new manager.
That half a season when he turned the club around and won promotion gave me my best day out ever in football at Wembley. Not so much because of the prize because I`d say winning the Milk Cup ran it very close, but from the perspective of being there with my family. It was just a grand day out.
Anyway, getting back to Alex Neil he had a bit more to say…
“I’ve got great feelings towards the club, I’ve got no ill feeling towards the club at all. They gave me the oppportunity to come down and manage in England, I managed to get in to the Premier League and manager there for somebody so young.
‘I think it showed a lot of courage from them and David McNally, who was the Chief Executive, in particualr to give me the job and I will be forever grateful for that.
‘The fact is, football moves on. You don’t stay anywhere forever, and the nature of football, particularly at Championship level with what is at stake, is if you don’t win enough games then your position becomes under threat and that’s ultimately what happened.’
‘I think I handled myself gracefully, I don’t think there was any bitterness from me. Naturally you are always a bit disappointed and frustrated because you think that you can get it going and turn it around but the decision was made and I respect that.
‘As far as I’m concerned, that’s all in the past now, I’ve got great memories of being there and the success that we did have. I’m just looking forward to going back, seeing a few people but hopefully trying to win the game.’
I should point out that I was approving of the decision to sack Neil because his time had come and gone – very quickly I might add. In fact other after that promotion push it never got any better. He built an aging squad and relied on them too much, as well as being tactically naive. We were relegated from the Premier League, which was entirely avoidable and then he fluffed the chance to go straight back up.
He is still very young though, so has time to learn and I`m sure his time at Norwich was a steep but very useful learning curve. He`s doing okay at PNE, but he can`t be allowed to win on Saturday or the natives will be getting very restless.