Norwich City fans everywhere rejoiced this morning as it was announced that Alex Neil had signed a “new, long-term and improved” contract with the club. After taking over after Neil Adams’ resignation after a truly dismal FA Cup exit at the hands of Preston at Deepdale, Neil stepped in and propelled the ten-man Canaries to a 1-2 victory away to league leaders Bournemouth, before rampaging through the Championship and up into third place, culminating with a trip to Wembley and a return to the Premier League.
The Scotsman’s impact cannot be overstated; seventeen wins, three loses and five draws show what a miraculous job the man has done. Most notable of all, of course, is the play-off campaign which saw the Canaries beat Ipswich 4-2 in the semi-final and then overcome Middlesbrough at Wembley – a team that City had previously lost 4-0 to under Neil Adams.
It’s hard to believe that Alex Neil has only been in charge of Norwich for five months, yet City fans cannot imagine life without him. He breathed new life into a team that was stewing in mid-table; promotion hopes were fading fast and the atmosphere – at times – was toxic. Yet fast forward to May 16th and Carrow Road was awash with yellow and green, barring a small corner of blue and white in the away section. Flags and a deafening chorus of “On the ball, City!” welcomed Norwich onto the pitch before Wes Hoolahan, Nathan Redmond and Cameron Jerome secured safe passage to Wembley. There, it was Jerome and Redmond again who tore Middlesbrough apart in the opening fifteen minutes to give City a 2-0, and from then on they never looked like relinquishing that advantage.
Ahead of his first full season at Carrow Road, Neil has much work to do. Being back in the Premier League obviously requires upgrades on personnel and a solidifying of the defence, as well as having a proven Premier League striker – however, those come at a pretty price. Alex Neil had this to say to canaries.co.uk:
“I’m delighted to sign a new contract with Norwich City.
“Both parties were taking a chance when I was appointed but it’s worked out very well for all involved, and I’m happy this has been sorted before the season gets underway. I’ve really enjoyed my five months at the Club, hopefully it is just the beginning as we now look forward to playing in the Barclays Premier League.”
David McNally, of course, must take some of the plaudits. Appointing an unknown and taking such a huge gamble could have massively backfired, yet now Norwich sit in the top flight of English football. “For us this summer it was the most important piece of business to ensure Alex had a much-deserved new contract. He galvanised the football club after arriving in January, and we’re certain that Norwich City will continue to progress under his management.”