No knee-jerk reactions from Alex Neil to first Norwich City defeat
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Alex Neil will let the dust settle before plotting a response to the first real setback of his Norwich City reign.
Brentford's deserved 2-1 Championship success was a major reality check for the Scot after a gritty win at Bournemouth and the attacking verve which saw them eventually sweep aside Cardiff.
Nathan Redmond's fine solo finish was ultimately a brief interlude in a controlled display from the Bees, with Ramallo Jota and Alex Pritchard scoring in each half to halt City's bid to move back into the top six at Brentford's expense.
'If you look at the 11 players who go on the pitch you want them to win their individual battles and I think they won more of those all over the pitch and merited their win,' he said. 'I didn't think there was many of my players who got anywhere near their level. If you look at the game it was pretty much a match-up all over the pitch in terms of the shape. If you have six or seven playing well the chances are you win the game. They had that, we didn't.'
Hunger was a prominent theme in Neil's post-match analysis.
'I think we had opportunities to get something out of the game but the performance would not have merited any points,' he said. 'In fact I would go further and say we were poor so I definitely wouldn't say we deserved anything from the match. If I am honest we came up against a hungrier team.
'It is a case of players doing their bit. How much do you want it as a player? How hungry are you to get the better of your man? How much do you want to win that header or that tackle? Everyone can talk a good game but it is when you go out on that pitch you are there and it is just you and your man and if you don't get the better of him then you are going to find it a tough day. I am not saying we got beaten by better players, we got beaten by a hungrier team.'
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Pritchard sealed the win from the penalty spot after City's centre backs were adjudged to have felled Andre Gray, but the hosts still forced a late double save from Bees' keeper David Button.
'I thought it was a wee bit soft the penalty,' said Neil. 'A lot the time those will not be given but we have to look at ourselves, not the referee or the decisions he made. It's strange, because if you play well and you have put the effort in then people go home happy and we had two good opportunities when the keeper makes a great save from the one that came back off the bar and then Lewis Grabban goes through but, first and foremost as a manager, I look at how we performed as a group and those levels were short of what we should be doing.'