Mercifully, we can seemingly end the Alex Neil to Stoke City talk once and for all.
Last weekend was dominated by talk about Neil’s future, even with Preston going top after a 1-0 win at Charlton Athletic. Last Friday, Stoke sacked Nathan Jones, bringing an end to his reign after just 10 months.
The Potters then decided they wanted Neil. We can’t exactly blame them; Neil has worked wonders at Preston over the last couple of years, and has North End sitting in the automatic promotion spots.
It all threatened to get a little ugly though. TalkSPORT claimed that Neil was set to leave Preston to become Stoke boss, prompting North End to release two statements. The first suggested that there was no chance of Stoke being given permission to speak to Neil after seemingly leaking their interest to TalkSPORT, and the second was Neil himself committing to North End.
Remarkably, some still thought a deal could happen. Stoke-based presenter Jonty Sargeant – unsurprisingly associated with TalkSPORT – doubled down earlier this week, suggesting that a move for Neil wasn’t dead. Well, it seems to be now.
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Michael Walker of The Athletic is reporting that Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill is all set to become Stoke manager, almost doubling his salary in the process.
O’Neill will now try to keep Stoke in the Championship, as they sit bottom of the table, six points from safety. With a four-year deal coming, Stoke seemingly believe O’Neill is their short and long-term answer.
Thankfully, Neil to Stoke really can be killed off now. There will no doubt be other suitors in the future, given his great work at Deepdale, but he won’t be heading to the Potteries.