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‘Do that again’ – Ex-Preston North End, Sunderland and Stoke City boss outlines ideal next job

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The Scot left Stoke City in December 2023

Alex Neil wants ‘recreate’ what he had at Preston North End – wherever his next job as a football manager takes him.

Stoke City parted ways with the Scot in December 2023, after four straight defeats. He spent 16 months with the Potters, having joined them from newly-promoted Sunderland – in August 2022. Neil spoke to the Lancashire Post last week, for an in-depth, exclusive interview about his time at Deepdale. That enjoyment he had at Preston, is something he’d like to rediscover soon.

 

He said: “Obviously, I’ve been on a few holidays since I left Stoke and had time to reflect – as you do. Every club you work at is very, very different… they are not even similar. Honestly, even the structure of things and how you report to people. And what happens is, when you walk into any club people try and paint an understanding of the situation the club is in.

“But, every club you walk into, when you lift the bonnet up and look under it, you think: ‘Oo, right, OK, it’s a little bit different than what I thought’. And then, you’ve got to try and make the best use of what you’ve got – and try win as many games as you can. But yeah, for me, I’ll just look for the next challenge and see what comes up over the summer, or into next year.

“I want to get… to be honest, I’d like to try and recreate what I had at Preston for those years – in terms of having a squad I really enjoy, having players that are hungry, want to make their way and want to achieve. You don’t come across it very often, but I was fortunate I managed to walk into the right changing room at the right time. I’d like to try and do that again.”

On walking into Stoke, Neil added: “Yeah, Stoke was a bit different in the fact that – if I’d walked in during the summer, when we needed to churn things around – I think what you get is a bit of a blank canvas. And you’ve got time to try and build the club. What I had to do was, basically, walk in 12 months earlier and then see that squad through. We only signed frees or loans, because we didn’t have any money. We had to sell Harry Souttar in the January, to make sure we fell in line with FFP and didn’t break the rules – which we did.

“It gave us a pot of cash to spend in the summer, but again, we signed six frees and five loans. All the ones we put our money into, were key assets. So, Bae Jun-ho – who I think won Player of the Year. Wouter Burger, who won second Player of the Year. And Ryan Mmaee who, for me, will become a really good player for them.

 

“So yeah, we invested in those guys. But, the difficult you have then, is taking 19 players and trying to mould a squad in three months – which is challenging. And particularly in the Championship, with how competitive it is. You then have the expectation of where people want to finish and how you want to do. So yeah, it’s not easy – if it was easy everybody would do it.”

 

 

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