Alex Neil detects a kindred spirit in Norwich City’s midst
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil's managerial success at Hamilton was achieved against-the-odds so there is no chance Norwich City will treat Brentford with a lack of respect.
The Bees have defied the pundits to become a genuine Championship promotion contender and Neil can detect the same key ingredients in the dynasty he helped construct north of the border.
'It's probably fair to say they don't have household names but that was the same as my Hamilton team,' he said. 'We didn't have household names, where everybody knew who they were, but if you work as a group and you are determined and organised that goes a long way but, give them credit, they have some good players as well.
'If your attitude is right and you are willing to put the work in it shows you what is possible. Look at Bournemouth as well at the top of the table, another really good side, well-drilled, who are seen as another smaller club. When you go out on the pitch it is 11 versus 11, it doesn't matter how many fans you have or what your stadium is like. It is what happens on the pitch.'
Neil has watched the footage of City's 3-0 Griffin Park league victory and that confirmed his initial suspicions.
'I think they are up there on merit. They have done really well,' he said. 'They are an efficient group who are well-drilled and they work well together. We are going to have match them for sure that, firstly, we match them for endeavour and effort and energy. I am under no illusions it will be difficult but if we match all those parts I have spoken about we have players who are proven at the top level.
'I feel we are more than capable of winning the game, but they will feel the same. It will be a difficult match.
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'I watched the Brentford game to see how they went about playing us. I think they had a few opportunities in the first half but it's like any game if you don't take them then you are liable to lose a game.'
Neil accepts there is an extra edge to this encounter with Norwich capable of dislodging Brentford and moving into the top six, but the City boss is playing the long game.
'It is big but we have 20 big ones and the one thing I keep stressing is we have to focus on the first one. We can't get ahead of ourselves,' he said. 'I don't like planning too far ahead or setting targets because you end up chasing your tail. I think at this stage it wouldn't be that significant to be in the top six.
'It might give you a little bit more confidence to be in there for the first time in quite a while but long term if you win and lose the next four it means nothing.'