Well, that photo sums it up.
Just over 24 hours on from losing to Leeds United, and Alex Neil’s future is back in the news. Defeat to Leeds all but ended North End’s play-off hopes, and the vultures are circling already.
West Bromwich Albion’s defeat at Bristol City means James Shan’s position as caretaker is under review. Three wins in a row had boosted the Baggies after Darren Moore’s shock sacking, but panic is setting in.
Two defeats on the bounce mean West Brom are in dire form heading towards the play-offs. Keeping caretaker Shan in charge would be a major gamble – and that takes us to Neil.
Odds on Neil heading to West Brom have been slashed today, down to 1/4 in some places. That’s big money placed on the Scot, just as North End’s season appears to be over.
Now, The Telegraph report tonight that West Brom will make an official approach for Neil. Once North End face the Baggies on Saturday, the approach is expected to arrive.
Preston would allegedly receive £650,000 in compensation, but are expected to fight hard to keep Neil. As for Neil, there’s no indication yet just what his plans are, and whether he’d be interested in a move.
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On face value, it’s easy to see why the West Brom job appears better than Preston. They have a bigger fanbase, better infrastructure and more money – both personally to Neil, and for transfers.
Yet this could be a huge gamble for Neil. He calls all the shots at Deepdale, he has a young, talented squad he is working wonders with, and is adored by the Preston fans. West Brom literally just sacked a manger for being fourth in the Championship table. Just two years on from his Norwich sacking, Neil would be taking a major risk heading into that kind of job again.
At just 37, Neil doesn’t need to chase a big job. This isn’t like Simon Grayson in 2017, who was really in a last chance saloon to land a huge managerial role. Neil has time on his side, his stock is rising and rising having rebuilt his reputation at Deepdale.
West Brom face a major financial restructure this summer if they don’t go up, with big players expected to go. The Hawthorns job is not quite as appealing as it seems when you scratch beneath the surface.
Still, it’s a big club with big aspirations and bigger budgets than North End. We just have to hope that Trevor Hemmings and Peter Ridsdale can give Neil everything he wants in order to stay put.