Norwich’s pursuit of Robbie Brady looks as if it’s nearing completion, putting an end to quite possibly one of the most boring transfer sagas there’s ever been. It’s been long winded. It’s gone on quite a while. But hopefully at some point today, Alex Neil will indeed be able to complete his third summer signing.
City’s business hasn’t been efficient as one might have hoped, it has however been smart. The Canaries had a Premier League squad last season. Many fans felt it should romp the division. They under performed for quite a while. Then, enter Alex Neil and the rest was history. Yet, more importantly than that top flight experience, Neil instilled a real team spirit and togetherness amongst the squad.
When coming into the Premier League, that’s a real strength to build from immediately. A squad together? A squad believing? A squad that’s been through it together already? That’s an advantage when taking on England’s elite. It was one of the highlights of Paul Lambert’s reign. We had a side that believed they could go out there and beat anyone. Under Alex Neil, we have the exact same. When getting promoted, quality rather than quantity is certainly the way to go in the window. QPR in recent seasons seemed to prove how not to go about things, whereas Lambert’s Norwich, Swansea and Southampton amongst others showed how to do it.
Neil has gone on record saying that he hopes that we’ll get a few bits of business done between now and the start of the season, aiming to add three or four new faces – with that figure including Brady. However, it was something I touched upon last week and I’ll expand on here.
The best bit of business City did this summer? Giving Neil a new contract.
“Don’t be too respectful of who you are playing against,” Neil told the Pink’Un, after City’s 2-1 win over Bundesliga outfit FC Augsberg, referring to a disappointing first-half display before a second-half resurgence. “Football is mental as much as physical. Of course you have to go in respecting your opponent but believing you can play well and beat them. If you go in with the attitude, ‘let’s just hold out and see how the game goes,’ that is not how I want my team to approach. That is not how I approach it and I made my feelings known.”
For a fan, it’s music to your ears. For a Norwich fan, after two Premier League seasons of hearing how the teams we were playing against had so much quality, it’s like angels playing harps as you’re floating on clouds drifting your way into heaven. He instils confidence. He knows exactly what he wants. He has his standards, he won’t let anyone slip below them. I’d happily go on record and say that Alex Neil’s Norwich would beat all other Norwich City sides that I’ve seen in my 13 years as a fan.
The play-off final was the perfect example. A massive, high stakes, everything matters game. Colossal. Gigantic occasion. Neil played it down. Got the side preparing as if it was a standard away game. They didn’t travel down way in advance. Though, his preparation was relentless according to assistant Frankie McAvoy. Norwich were fantastic that day. Deserving winners. They never looked in trouble. For such a high stakes game? It was nuts.
I said last season the top-eight in the Championship could have beaten most of the bottom half of the Premier League, I stand by that. The league is a lot stronger with the three that have come up but out of them all, the Canaries still seem best placed to stay up for me. Manager wise, Neil just seems to have a real X factor about him. He’s a special talent. Once he’d taken over, his Canary side were the best in the Championship. He’s massively impressed the yellow army. And, I couldn’t think of anyone better to lead us to survival this season.
Some Premier League fans may not know the name, but come May, they’ll know exactly who Alex Neil is. The next time I blog, the Canaries will have started their Premier League campaign and I’ve got a feeling it’s going to be a good one.