Neil hoping fans Carrow Road return can act as important first step for football

PUBLISHED: 09:57 18 September 2020 | UPDATED: 09:57 18 September 2020

Alex Neil admits he is surprised by the return of supporters to Carrow Road. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil admits he is surprised by the return of supporters to Carrow Road. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Alex Neil admits he is surprised to see a portion of supporters returning to Carrow Road tomorrow - but believes it is an important first step for football.

Norwich City’s former boss is set to return to NR1 tomorrow as manager of Preston North End and is attempting to prepare his squad for the return of 1,000 supporters.

The Canaries were confirmed as one of two matches in the Championship to pilot the return of supporters - with fans being picked via a random ballot.

“There seems to be a bit of a spike again and I’m actually quite surprised they are continuing with introducing fans. But we would all like it back to normal as quickly as possible, providing it is safe to do so.

“Having no fans does take away from the match, it is bizarre,” said Neil. “It has been eerie in the grounds, I’ve been in football most of my life and it is really strange not to have a crowd,” he told Preston’s official website.

Neil has praised Norwich City for their approach following relegation. 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNeil has praised Norwich City for their approach following relegation. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

“Norwich will have 1,000 fans tomorrow and it would be nice if it was at Deepdale with 1,000 of our fans. We have to start somewhere in terms of getting people back to football.”

Neil’s side arrive at Carrow Road with somewhat of a cloud above their heads. Speculation surrounding the future of Daniel Johnson and Ben Davies has dominated the discourse leading up to this fixture.

The Scot knows about being City boss following relegation - and he believes the Canaries were right to freshen up their squad following a difficult Premier League campaign.

“It is important you stem the negativity,” he continued. “When you get relegated, you don’t feel too good about yourself as a player, as a coach or as a club and you want to try and change your mentality as quickly as possible.

Alex Neil was City's boss following relegation from the top-flight in 2016. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdAlex Neil was City's boss following relegation from the top-flight in 2016. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

“There are two ways of doing that. They have chosen to freshen up the playing squad; which means they are less damaged and dented by that relegation – which I think is a good thing and you again have to start the season well and that first win last weekend will have done them the world of good and I am sure they will look to try and build on that.

“We go there after two games where we have not played poorly at all. At Derby we were very good and second half against Swansea we were good. In the first half against Swansea there was nothing in the game, so we felt aggrieved that we lost that and we want to go [to Carrow Road] and get our first points of the season on the board.”

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