Former Norwich City boss Alex Neil will do well at Preston, says Alan Irvine

PUBLISHED: 10:46 02 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:46 02 August 2017

Alex Neil, centre, with Alan Irvine, right, and Frankie McAvoy, who has already joined his former boss as Preston. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Alex Neil, centre, with Alan Irvine, right, and Frankie McAvoy, who has already joined his former boss as Preston. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

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Alan Irvine is tipping former boss at Norwich City Alex Neil to succeed in his new role at Championship rivals Preston.

Neil took over at Deepdale having parted company with the Canaries in March – a decision which left Irvine in caretaker charge of the team for the remainder of the season before he also departed.

Now Neil is preparing for a season opener against Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday – and Irvine is backing his former boss to do well as a club he himself once manager.

“Alex is very passionate, very determined, he has got a lot of good qualities as a young manager,” Irvine told the Lancashire Evening Post.

“Like all of us, he still has things to learn and he will have reflected on things in his time out of the game.

“I think Alex will do really well at Preston, he is a good fit for the club.

“It will be really interesting watching how the season goes.

“Preston has a big place in my heart and I always look out for them – it is a club which is really important to me.”

Irvine’s association with Neil started 13 months ago.

“I was away on holiday in Portugal and right out of the blue I got a phone call from Alex asking for a chat,” said Irvine.

“He was asking whether I would be interested in going to Norwich as his first-team coach. “Alex was good to work with, he has got some good ideas about the game.

“He thinks about the game a great deal, he thinks deeply about his tactics. His preparation for a game is very thorough. The players will learn a lot from him and realise they will have to work very hard to stay in the team.

“I felt that one of the big qualities Preston had under Simon Grayson was how hard they worked in games. They will want to keep that work ethic and Alex will make sure they do.”

Irvine, 59, was considered a good bet to reunite with Neil as his assistant – as he did a year ago at City – but made it clear he would only return to the game as a manager.

“That time with Norwich whetted my appetite and I will wait to see what comes up,” he said. “I’ve had three offers already but none of them was as a manager.”

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