This article is part of Football League World’s ‘The Verdict‘ series, which provides personal opinions from the FLW writers regarding the latest breaking news, teams, players, managers, potential signings and more…
Preston North End parted company with manager Alex Neil yesterday after nearly four years in charge at Deepdale.
The 39-year-old lost his job after North End’s results spiralled in 2021, with nine games lost out of 15 and Saturday’s defeat to Luton Town was the final straw for PNE owner Trevor Hemmings.
North End have been in the bottom third of the league budget-wise throughout their six years in the second tier since promotion in 2015, and Neil has seen several talented players sold during his time as manager – Jordan Hugill, Callum Robinson, Ben Davies and Ben Pearson to name a few.
A mass turnover in players during the most recent transfer window saw eight leave and eight arrive, and the lack of consistency has seen the Lilywhites drop down the table.
Weighing up all the factors, was it the right decision for PNE to part company with Neil? The FLW writers have had their say on the matter…
I think so.
It’s probably fair to say that he’s not at fault for everything that has gone wrong at Preston this season but you have to look at their form and their number of losses this year and conclude that it is probably the right time for him to go.
I’m sure he could go somewhere else and do a good job – I still believe he’s a good manager at this level for sure – but now just seems the right time for something fresh to come in at Deepdale.
I don’t think they’re particularly at risk of the drop – they just need a handful of points to be safe really – and then the summer is a big one for them.
Preston North End quiz: 19 facts you may not know about Deepdale – But are they true?
I wasn’t surprised by this to be honest.
Neil has probably taken Preston as far as he can, and it’s time for a club to find someone that can take them into a promotion-chasing team in the Championship.
Their poor run of form hasn’t been good on the eye, and they look like a team that are void of any sort of confidence.
Dismissing him now will give Preston the ideal time to get the right manager in to succeed Neil, as they turn their attentions towards next year’s campaign.
This was definitely the right call at the time.
It did seem like the time was coming to an end for Neil at Preston, although it is difficult not to have some sympathy for him considering the amount of changes that were made to the squad throughout the January window.
That meant that it was always going to take time for them to find the right balance to the side and achieve consistent results.
You get the impression that the club waited as long as they could and tried to give Neil the time to improve results on the field.
However, with just one win in nine there were no signs of improvement in the defeat against Luton Town in terms of the performance levels.
A change might have been made at an ideal time given the club are likely already secure in the Championship, which means that they can have a lot of time to assess other managerial contenders and make sure they get the next person for the job right.
Neil did a good job for most of his time in charge, but he was never able to take that last step and get them into the top six.
That will have to be the club’s aim moving forwards and it appears to have been the right decision to try something different with that aim in mind.