Advice of former Norwich City chiefs David McNally and Jez Moxey helped Alex Neil decide to join Preston North End
- Credit: PA
Alex Neil has revealed he spoke to former Norwich City chief executives David McNally and Jez Moxey before taking on his new job as manager at Preston North End.
North End were left searching for their first boss since 2013 when Simon Grayson swapped Deepdale for Sunderland’s Stadium of Light last week and have chosen 36-year-old Scot Neil.
Although he was axed by Norwich only four months ago, his CV includes promotions to the top flight on either side of the border and after conversations with two former Canaries chief executives, Neil was convinced Deepdale was the right destination.
“I spoke to David McNally and Jez Moxey, who I’d worked with at Norwich, and they spoke really high of the club and the fact they think this is the perfect place for me to try and build something,” Neil told Press Association Sport.
“When the club contacted me initially I looked at the progress they’ve made over the last few years. They’ve got a young, hungry squad that I think I can try and help and improve, and speaking to (chairman) Peter Risdale and the owner (Trevor Hemmings) it made it quite an easy decision for me to come.
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“They’ve got a solid squad that have performed well over two seasons in the Championship – my job is to improve that squad and get the best out of what we’ve got and hopefully on the finishes that we’ve made over the past two seasons.”
Preston are a club steeped in history, which was evident when Neil spoke pitchside at Deepdale in front of stands named after Sir Tom Finney and Bill Shankly, yet they have remained outside the top flight since 1961.
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Their new boss wants his squad to look at the Premier League’s most recent club Huddersfield for inspiration that they too can take the final step.
“It’s certainly something that we can achieve,” Neil added of promotion.
“It might not happen right away but it’s something we can build towards and I think ‘progress’ is the key word. If you can progress past 11th and you’re about the play-offs, you never know what can happen.
“I think Huddersfield are probably the best example over recent years. We’re trying to do something special, it might take time, it might not, but we’ll give it our best go.”
In a division noted for its competitive nature, Aston Villa this week signed 78-cap former England captain John Terry while Wolves are close to pulling off the significant coup of promising Portugal international Ruben Neves.
Both finished beneath Preston last season and Neil is confident team spirit can help his young squad deliver success.
“There’s a vast amount of money in the Championship now – there’s an influx of foreign ownership who are prepared to fling huge amounts of money at it,” he admitted.
“But money doesn’t bring success. Wolves and Aston Villa spent absolute fortunes last year and finished below Preston. We’ll be built on teamwork, having no real prima donnas that think they’re better than everyone else. Everyone’s in it together and we’ll be looking to do as well as we can.”