Friday 21 October 2016

Delia Smith: Norwich City boss Alex Neil is the new Alex Ferguson

Russell Martin held the trophy aloft after Norwich claimed their play-off final win at Wembley
Russell Martin held the trophy aloft after Norwich claimed their play-off final win at Wembley

Norwich majority shareholder Delia Smith hailed Canaries boss Alex Neil - and joked he should be knighted - after their play-off win.

The celebrity chef believes they have a gem in Neil after he masterminded Norwich's 2-0 Sky Bet Championship play-off final triumph over Middlesbrough, with Dubliner Wes Hoolahan pulling the strings in midfield.

Norwich fans have christened the Scot 'Sir Alex', in reference to Alex Ferguson, following the way he has transformed the Canaries since joining from Hamilton in January.

He took Hamilton into the SP League last season and has won 17 of his 25 games in charge - now including at Wembley - after taking charge when they were outside the play-off spots.

Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond scored in the first 15 minutes to hand Norwich an instant return to the EPL after relegation 12 months ago.

And Smith, who has been majority shareholder at Carrow Road since 1996, reckons Neil is a special boss. "I said to Stephen Fry when the whistle had gone he should be knighted, you wait, he'll get one. I'm with the fans on that one," she said. "We are just bowled over by him. He is incredible. He is a lovely man, he's intelligent, self-confident and he doesn't have an ego - and that's quite hard.

"He is so cool and so calm and it looked like how they were playing. It was amazingly wonderful.

And Canaries captain Russell Martin suffered relegation last year but believes, under Neil, the squad are better equipped to stay in the top flight.

"This is the best squad we've had since I've been at the club. We will only strengthen that in the summer. We're ready and I think the manager is as well" he said. "Next year is about trying to enjoy it and staying in the league, like we did the first year we got promoted (in 2011)."

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