Sky Sports EFL pundit Don Goodman has suggested that Alex Neil will have been anticipating that he would be given until the end of the season to turn things around given the amount of changes made to the squad in January.
Preston made the decision to part company with Neil with the Lilywhites on a run of just one win in their last nine Championship matches. That came with there being few signs things were turning a corner in their 1-0 defeat against Luton Town. The decision was therefore made to part ways with the former Norwich City boss and look to assess other candidates for the role.
Neil’s cause was not helped at Preston in January with the club losing the likes of Ben Davies and Ben Pearson, who were crucial players to the spine of the side he had built in the last few years. However, he was backed with signings to replace those players, but he was never able to find the right balance in the side to include those new arrivals and still pick up results.
Speaking on Sky Sports’ latest EFL Podcast, Goodman suggested that Neil might have been anticipating that he would have been given more time to turn things around given the changes made to the squad. However, he also believes that there can be no major complaints given their current form, but that Neil will not be short of suitors now he is out of work.
He said: “When you make such wholesale changes to a squad and lose some of your best players, Alex will probably feel it was about getting through the rest of this season and starting again in the summer.
“But they were on a poor run of form, and when that happens your job will always be at risk. You don’t always like it, but it’s something we’ve come to accept. It’s a shame for Alex, but I’m sure he’ll get another opportunity somewhere else.”
You have to feel for Neil that he was perhaps not given enough of a chance to find the right balance with the squad of players he has had to work with since the end of January. However, a run of one win in nine in the league is not good enough for the Lilywhites and the hierarchy and supporters would have been expecting to see progression being made after two months with the new players.
It was always going to be a major challenge for Neil to get Preston into the play-offs given they are working with a much smaller budget than most sides in that top six or seven. However, Barnsley are currently in and amongst that group and they too have a much smaller budget so when owners see that they perhaps expect more from their current managers and make a change.
You have to agree with Goodman that Neil will not be short of options in terms of selecting his next job in football. There will be a number of sides who would surely look at him and think that he could be the right fit for them. Especially considering he did have options to leave Deepdale when things were going well at the club in the last year or so.