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Neil ready for top-flight challenge

Published 26/05/2015

Norwich manager Alex Neil knows what a challenge awaits in the Barclays Premier League following promotion
Norwich manager Alex Neil knows what a challenge awaits in the Barclays Premier League following promotion

Norwich manager Alex Neil knows he will have to learn fast for life in the Barclays Premier League but will waste no time in getting started.

The Canaries secured a swift return to the top flight following relegation 12 months ago when they defeated Middlesbrough 2-0 in the Sky Bet Championship play-off final at Wembley.

It capped a remarkable second half of the campaign under the guidance of Neil, who presided over some 17 wins from 25 since his appointment in January, when Norwich were out of form and out of the top six.

The 33-year-old Scot, though, knows he must now face up to the toughest challenge of his short managerial career, which had seen him start the season in charge of Hamilton against Arboath.

"You are always evolving as a person, coach and manager. I am certainly better than what I was two years ago. I will have to learn fast, but I am prepared to put the hours in to make us as equipped as can be to compete," said Neil, who is still completing his UEFA pro-licence coaching badges.

"The next couple of days will be busy, we have two plans set in place in terms of recruitment, so we need to look at that.

"We will need to add quality to the squad, but I will stick with the hard-core group of the squad and make sure they get their opportunity of going up.

"They have shown enough from previous years in the Premier League for being there for a couple of seasons, so it is not as if they do not know what to do when they get there, and more importantly, they know they are capable of staying there."

Norwich took an early lead through Cameron Jerome, the former Middlesbrough trainee coming back to haunt his old club with a close-range finish following hesitancy in the defence on 12 minutes.

Before Boro, who beat Norwich home and away in the regular season, could regroup, a fine finish from Nathan Redmond doubled the lead.

The England Under-21 winger has attracted some attention this season with his all-action displays, which also included a goal in the semi-final second-leg win over East Anglia rivals Ipswich at Carrow Road.

While Neil accepts Norwich's best players will "always get interest", his mind is very much on adding to the promotion-winning squad, rather than letting any key men further their career elsewhere.

"Nobody will be leaving the football club who we don't think can help us remain there (in the Premier League) and do well," he said.

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