Norwich City boss Alex Neil backs under-fire Bristol City chief Lee Johnson

Norwich City manager Alex Neil knows what Bristol City head coach Lee Johnson is going through.
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Norwich City manager Alex Neil knows what Bristol City head coach Lee Johnson is going through. Picture : Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil is urging Bristol City's under-fire boss Lee Johnson to stick to his guns after facing the same calls for his head this season from disgruntled Norwich City fans.

Neil was again berated by sections of the travelling support at Ashton Gate in the closing stages of Tuesday's 1-1 Championship draw, after taking off Josh Murphy to bolster his backline with the aerial presence of Seb Bassong.

Johnson himself has been a regular target for the Bristol boo boys, as the Robins slipped into the bottom three on the back of one win league win since December 4.

'You have to believe in what you are doing. The fact is you can't control what other people say,' said Neil, who was publicly backed from the club's top brass during a prolonged downturn prior to Christmas. 'You have to be brave enough to make big decisions because sometimes you make them and everyone else feels they are wrong.

'When you run a football club I get all the information flowed into me. I see the players and staff on a daily basis. I know everything that goes on - whereas the guy who is criticising is the guy in the house who sees the team on a Saturday. They don't have all the facts at hand.'

Johnson's side face a crunch relegation battle this weekend against fellow strugglers Wigan.

'Momentum will have a big part to play. I know they have Wigan and that is another big game,' said Neil. 'All the teams down the bottom end are not too dissimilar. They all look to get it forward quickly and be relatively direct. That can have a big effect if you are not able to deal with it.'

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Johnson's assistant, John Pemberton, departed on the eve of a game that underlined the Robins' fighting spirit with Bailey Wright cancelling out Yanic Wildschut's first-half opener.

'If anyone questioned our character or commitment, I think the second half completely eradicates that thought,' said Johnson. 'The subs were good – they made an impact, which was what we needed, and we looked like the team that was going to win it. We threw a bit more caution to the wind, which we had to, and we got on the front foot. We looked like we were the fitter side and fatigued the opposition.

'They brought a centre-half on, while we brought on two centre-forwards and a number ten. We went for it and had numerous chances. We thought we had a handball from a header and put a lot of crosses and corners into the box against a really good side – you have to remember their resources and where they are.

'They're a tough team to play against, particularly on the counter with their pace, but I'm proud of the players because it was a tough environment to play in.'