Neil leaves Preston ahead of clash with Canaries

Preston North End Manager Alex Neil during the Sky Bet Championship match at Carrow Road, NorwichP

Alex Neil at Carrow Road in September, when Preston held Norwich to a 2-2 draw - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd 

Preston have parted ways with former Norwich City boss Alex Neil after nearly four seasons in charge at Deepdale, with the Canaries set to be North End's first opponents after the international break. 

The Scot has left after their 1-0 defeat to Luton Town on Saturday, their fourth loss in five matches. Neil departs with the club sitting in 16th position in the Championship, nine points above the relegation zone.

Former Canaries assistant boss Frankie McAvoy is set to take charge on a temporary basis, who followed Neil to Norfolk from Hamilton in January 2015 and eventually joined him in Lancashire in 2017.

North End have won just two matches since the January transfer window closed. Neil saw two of his most influential players in Ben Pearson and Ben Davies leave the club for Bournemouth and Liverpool respectively. 

The Lilywhites are set to welcome leaders Norwich to Deepdale on Good Friday in their next fixture.

Speaking after their defeat, Neil told local media: "I'll be brutally honest, I haven't thought about any more than what this interview is going to hold for me after.

"I've been looking over our shoulder for the last six games - since the window shut really," the ex-Canaries boss told Lancashire Live. 

A statement on the club's official website read: "Preston North End Football Club can confirm that it has today parted with the services of its manager, Alex Neil.

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"Alex joined the club in the summer of 2017 and he leaves us with our thanks and very best wishes for the future.

"It is the intention that Frankie McAvoy will take up the position of interim head coach and work with Steve Thompson, Mike Pollitt and Paul Gallagher in taking the team for the remaining eight games of the season."

McAvoy initially remained with City after Neil's exit, working alongside interim head coach Alan Irvine to start with but then departing during pre-season after Farke's arrival.

Norwich First Team Coach Frankie McAvoy and Norwich Manager Daniel Farke before the Pre-season Frien

Frankie McAvoy initially remained with Norwich following the arrival of Daniel Farke but departed during pre-season in 2017 - Credit: Picture by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd 

Neil was a shock appointment at Norwich as a 33-year-old in January 2015, being brought in from Hamilton Academical to replace Neil Adams and inspiring a brilliant run of form which culminated in play-off final victory over Middlesbrough at Wembley.

The former Barnsley midfielder couldn't keep City in the Premier League and was dismissed in March 2017 with play-off hopes all but over after a poor run of form, which was followed by the arrival of sporting director Stuart Webber and head coach Daniel Farke.

He took over at Preston that summer and narrowly missed out on the play-offs in 2018, but mid-table finishes have followed in the last two seasons as Neil continued to operate with a tight transfer budget.

West Brom were reportedly keen on appointing Neil as Darren Moore's successor in April 2019 but instead he signed a new three-year deal, also being strongly linked with the vacancy at Stoke later that year after the exit of Nathan Jones. 

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