Doc was just what we ordered - Grant
DAVID CUFFLEY New City boss Peter Grant paid tribute to his coaching staff for the decision to recall defender Gary Doherty against Birmingham - the Republic of Ireland international responding with a man of the match display in last night's 1-0 win.
New City boss Peter Grant paid tribute to his coaching staff for the decision to recall defender Gary Doherty against Birmingham - the Republic of Ireland international responding with a man of the match display in last night's 1-0 win.
Grant said he had been inclined to keep Craig Fleming alongside Jason Shackell in the centre of defence at St Andrew's after Saturday's 3-3 draw at Queen's Park Rangers, but after talking to assistant manager Doug Livermore, first team coach Martin Hunter and reserve team boss Keith Webb, they decided to go for Doherty.
“It's great credit to Dougie, Martin and Keith that they made a big call in bringing Doc back instead of Craig Fleming, who I thought was excellent on Saturday. But they thought Doc for tonight would be a better player,” said Grant.
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“We did that and I thought he was outstanding, along with the rest of the back four. Craig Fleming did ever so well in coming back in the team at right-back in the second half and I think that shows the spirit in the group.”
Fleming was a half-time substitute for skipper Adam Drury, who is now doubtful for Saturday's home game against Cardiff with a knee injury. Fleming slotted in at right-back after the interval, while Jürgen Colin moved to an unfamiliar left-back role.
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“Adam got a knock above his knee which was very disappointing for us, because he was a natural left-sider,” said Grant. “So we had to put a right-footer over there, but Jürgen did ever so well for us there.
“The injury's a wee bit of a worry for us, to be perfectly honest. We'll give Adam 24 hours to see how he is, but it looks as if he could probably miss the weekend.”
Grant described last night's result as “a fantastic start” to his reign as manager.
He said: “I'm delighted for all the boys because I know they've had a little bit of criticism recently. They've taken out the orders and the information we've given them tonight, that's what pleases me most. It's not as if I've come in and waved a magic wand. It's great credit to Nigel Worthington for the group he's put together, the attacking players he's put together. Thankfully tonight they played with confidence, and no fear, which I've tried to say to them over the past few days.
“Seeing the supporters' faces makes the players very proud and deservedly so, but there's always a big but and there's a lot of things we could do better. We should have killed the game off, there were a lot of chances.
“This is a fantastic place to come to. It's a big, big club who want success the same as ourselves, so coming here and sending the Canary fans home happy makes us very proud tonight. But we've got the boys that's running away with the league coming up next, so preparation for that starts now. There's a lot of work still to be done
“I've said to them you'll have to learn quickly, because if you don't learn quickly, I don't get carried away with one result. They've got to do it week in, week out.”
Grant's delight was in marked contrast to a sense of despair for Birmingham boss Steve Bruce, and he said the calls for his head from Blues fans at the end of the match were “disgraceful”.
Said Grant: “I can't feel sympathy for the fact that we won the game, but I can feel sympathy for Steve in the respect of what he's built here and what he's achieved here. I don't feel sympathy because of the fact we've taken three points off him.”
Former City defender Bruce admitted: “You have bad nights and that was certainly one of the worst ones in my time here as manager. I remember getting beaten seven off Liverpool, which ranks above it, but that one tonight for the way in which we played - we played with a fear. And we needed a few people to stand up and be counted and as a team performance it was shocking. As the manager I take full responsibility for it. I prepared them and I pick the team, but tonight I've got no excuses. I can't make any excuses. I've defended players all my time as a manager but I can't defend what I've just seen out there tonight.”
He said the fact that it was the new Norwich manager's first match may have made things harder, but it was no excuse.
“Possibly, but I'm not going to make that as an excuse. Norwich played well on the night, especially in the second half. The three in the midfield caused us a problem all night. Fair play to the manager.”