Neil using City experience to fuel Sunderland play-off charge

Ex-Norwich City manager Alex Neil is back in management at League One Sunderland

Ex-Norwich City manager Alex Neil is in the play-off final with League One Sunderland. - Credit: PA

Former Norwich City manager Alex Neil has been reminiscing on his play-off victory with the Canaries, as he heads into another final with Sunderland.

Neil guided City to promotion in 2015, when goals from Cameron Jerome and Nathan Redmond in the opening 15 minutes sealed victory over Middlesbrough.

The Scot returns to Wembley with the Black Cats today, where his side will face Wycombe Wanderers in the League One play-off final, and he goes in with positive recollections of that victory seven years ago.

"They’re good memories," he said. "I think Boro had beaten us 6-1 on aggregate that season, although I was only there for one of those games. They were the favourites, but the game was really finished before it had got started – we had put it to bed.

"They’re naturally good memories, but you only really reflect on them when they’re done. I remember after that match being absolutely exhausted, so mentally tired. I’d only been a manager for a couple of seasons at that point.

"But those days stick with you forever, and that is what these lads will find out on Saturday. It’s these moments where you’re judged as a manager or a player."

Play-off finals are often contextualised by their financial significance, but Neil's victory with City taught him that the glory is in the moment.

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He told the Northern Echo: "That promotion with Norwich, that game is synonymous with me and my career. That’s what people remember me for, especially those at Norwich, and nobody can take that away from you.

"You have a chance. That’s what the hard work is for - to get to this point and be someone who can do something special for a lot of people.

"Irrespective of what level you’ve played at, or how much money you’ve made, no one remembers you for that. They remember you for the key moments in time. Those are the key moments that live forever with fans and clubs."