Former City chief reacts to West Brom job link

Former Norwich City and current Preston chief Alex Neil is being touted with the West Brom job Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Former Norwich City and current Preston chief Alex Neil is being touted with the West Brom job Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Paul Chesterton

Ex-Norwich City boss Alex Neil has brushed off speculation touting him with the Canaries' Championship promotion rivals West Brom.

Neil has guided current club Preston to the fringes of the top six, after a 12-match unbeaten run that included a 3-1 Deepdale victory against City last month.

The 37-year-old memorably led Norwich to Wembley play-off success in 2015, and those credentials have reportedly marked him out as a front-runner for the Hawthorns vacancy.

“When you’re a manager of any football club, speculation is rife all the time,” he said, speaking BBC Radio Five Live.

“The amount of times in press conferences we’ve been linked with players and some of them I’ve never even heard of.

Declan Rudd has been a key figure in Preston's play-off push Picture: EXPA Pictures/Focus Images LtdDeclan Rudd has been a key figure in Preston's play-off push Picture: EXPA Pictures/Focus Images Ltd

“I would take speculation with a pinch of salt – my sole attention is on Preston North End, how well we’ve been doing and trying to continue that.

“I talk about not having a lot of pressure. I mean in comparison to bigger clubs. We’ve looked at the likes of West Brom for instance, who have lost their manager when they were sitting fourth in the table. I think that is an example of the sort of pressure that some of these big clubs have.”

Neil’s side are outside the top six only on goal difference, after a stoppage time win against Birmingham prior to the interntional break that brought another clean sheet for Declan Rudd.

The former City academy starlet has bounced back from a clanger in the corresponding league fixture at St Andrew’s, a 3-0 December defeat.

“What happened against Birmingham was a big turning point for Declan,” said Neil. “After something like that you can go one of two ways.

“Either you dust yourself down, get on with it and show everyone what you can do, or you dwell on it and feel sorry for yourself.

“Thankfully for us and for Declan himself, the man that he is has chosen to do the first of those. To be fair to him, he’s been great and has been key for us in the run we are on.

“If I had dropped him out, I think it would have been harder for him to have recovered. I had to make a decision based on if I believed in him and could he recover. Knowing Declan for the length of time I have, I had no worries about him.”

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