Neil Confirmed As New North End Boss
Well, that really didn't take too long at all did it? Interviewed on Monday and set to have his appointment confirmed within 24 hours, according to reports on Tuesday - Alex Neil was actually confirmed as the new Preston boss that evening.
Neil will officially take up the post vacated by Simon Grayson's exit for Sunderland on Thursday when the former Hamilton and Norwich boss begins his one year rolling contract.
The new boss said he was impressed by the progress Preston had made under Grayson in the past four years and is hopeful of continuing this.
He told the Official Website: 'I`ve looked at this opportunity and seen that the club has made progress for four years running and I am looking forward to trying to continue that progress. It is a really good challenge for me. I have been involved in a lot of big games in a short space of time and hopefully we can be involved in a lot more big games here at Preston North End.'
Adding: 'Taking over a job in this situation means we have a confident squad that have been performing well over the last couple of seasons. There will not be a task of trying to lift the players, they have shown they are a good team and they can compete at this level and my job is to come in and try and help them improve as individuals and improve us as a club and hopefully try and push further up the league.'
Having guided Hamilton and Norwich into the Scottish Premiership and Premier League in the past the aim for Neil, 36, is to eventually manage the same at Deepdale. However, his immediate aim is to continue the Championship stability show over the past couple of years.
Neil said: 'The ultimate aim for any club in the Championship is to try and get promoted at some stage. The club has been stable in the Championship for the last two years and you never know what is going to happen in the next year or two, but we want to try and build a side and a squad that is capable of competing at the top end of the Championship and if we can get a bit of momentum, you never know where you can end up.'
There are some players at Preston that would have felt almost assured of a first team place under Grayson, others perhaps feeling they might not have a future under him at North End?
The Scot, becoming the youngest boss at Preston since his countryman David Moyes, 34 when he was named player-manager in 1998, has promised a clean slate for all and challenged the players to show what they can do.
'There will be players who are quite pleased that everyone is on a level field and there will be players who feel they have already shown their worth to the previous manager, but the good thing for every one of them is the fact that I am coming in fresh. I will judge every one fairly and they will all have to try and impress me to make sure they are getting themselves into the team for the first game of the season. I think that is refreshing. I think it is something for me and them to look forward to.'
A third successive top half finish will be expected of Neil, if he can make a shrewd signing or two in key areas Preston could have a genuine shot of pushing for a play-off place under the new boss, which would have been the case under Grayson anyway.