Charity begins at home for Norwich City boss Alex Neil
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Sentiment was in short supply from Alex Neil after Norwich City proved too streetwise for Swansea City.
Neil out-flanked his old Barnsley team-mate Garry Monk at Carrow Road – based on the Canaries' footballing version of rope-a-dope – before Jonny Howson's header earned a first league win in seven.
The Scot and his players endured a wretched October, which served to underline the brutal nature of top-flight combat, and Neil was typically frank in assessing what is at stake for friend and foe alike.
'Do I have sympathy for Garry? Why would I have sympathy for him? They had the possession but we adapted the way we played. I haven't got any sympathy. No, not at all,' said Neil, in response to questioning regarding Swansea's domination of the ball. 'Of course I had a word with him after the game and he is a good lad. He was great last year and I have no doubts he will get them back on track. I am just pleased it wasn't here.
'The bottom line is we have been having a lot of possession and talking about how well we have played and not been winning, so we went to the opposite end of the scale and conceded possession but looked much more threatening, and created more chances than Swansea.
'Look at the columns who scored and who didn't score. That tells you who deserved to win because we have done enough in that particular respect. It is not about possession or attacks because we have had plenty of both in the last four weeks and not picked up any points.'
Neil knew the likely outcome if Swansea had exposed his tactical revisions.
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'If it didn't work and we lost the game then I would have got heavily criticised, so would the team, the tactics would have been rubbish. That is the facts of football,' he said. 'When you win now it's the perfect plan, but as a manager you have to do what you think is right to get your team the points and don't worry about what anyone else thinks because as soon as you start thinking about that you are in the wrong job.
'You have got to have a bit of bottle to do that because if you don't win and you don't entertain that is going to be seen as failure. There would be a lot of criticism coming my way when you don't win playing like that. I felt to soak up their possession and hit them on the counter-attack was going to be the best way to win the game.
'It is not as pretty as I would like, I want us to dominate games, but the most important thing is winning matches and in a week's time no one will care how we played. When we got the goal you could see there was more confidence from the players and the fans, to be fair as well, you could see them growing into it.'