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
Alex Neil is a contender for the vacant West Bromwich Albion managerial job, according to BirminghamLive.
The 40-year-old Scot has been without a club since March when he was sacked by Preston North End after nearly four years in charge at Deepdale.
Neil was targeted by the Baggies back in April 2019 when he was two years into his job at PNE and he was expected to take charge of the club following West Brom’s 4-1 victory over the Lilywhites that month, but to the surprise of many he opted to pen a new contract at Deepdale.
Two years later though, Neil is out of work and old links have seemingly been renewed.
BirminghamLive believe that following the West Brom owner’s unwillingness to pay compensation for Michael Appleton and breaking off talks with Chris Wilder, the choice came down to David Wagner and Neil.
It looked like ex-Huddersfield coach Wagner would be the new man in the dugout at The Hawthorns but he’s opted to go to Swiss side Young Boys instead, placing the Baggies back at square one in their search for Sam Allardyce’s successor.
With Wagner no longer an option it looks as though Neil is near the top of the list – would he be a good appointment for West Brom though? Let’s see what the FLW team think.
I think from where West Brom have been looking, Neil would be a touch underwhelming.
He did well with Norwich previously and I always thought his Preston sides were competitive in the Championship, without ever really taking that next step.
I just feel that they way in which his stint with Preston ended, he’d massively be falling on his feet landing the West Brom job after they’ve looked at Wilder and Wagner.
Of course, if he did get the job he might well deliver with slightly more resources than he had at Preston. That isn’t completely out of the question.
However, I just feel that West Brom will go down a different route.
There’s no denying that Neil’s time at PNE ended badly and it seemed like he just needed a break from football for a little while due to his whole demeanour, but everyone knows he wasn’t really backed in his four years at Deepdale.
His best players were sold over the years without really being replaced and he lost three of his top stars in January 2021 which led to a run of bad results – of course Neil had his faults as well such as not really having a ‘Plan B’ when things started to go wrong but it wasn’t all down to him.
But with a refreshed mind after taking some months out of management, I feel as though Neil could actually be a good fit for West Brom.
He got North End to seventh position in his first season in 2017-18 with what wasn’t really a great squad overall, so imagine what he could do with the likes of Callum Robinson, Grady Diangana, Karlan Grant and others and he would definitely play high-pressing football.
West Brom fans will probably just see that Neil was sacked by North End when they were in the bottom half of the Championship last season and dismiss him, but he’s a better manager and coach than that and I could think of much worse appointments.
He wouldn’t be my first choice in truth.
He’s got an in impressive CV though and managed to secure promotion to the Premier League with Norwich City, whilst he turned Preston North End from relegation candidates to play-off hopefuls.
However, I just think West Brom need to be looking elsewhere and do think they should push the boat out and look to try and prize Valerien Ismael away from Oakwell.
The Frenchman is among the names being touted for the job at the Hawthorns and I was so impressed with him at Barnsley last season, the way he galvanised that dressing room whilst deploying an attractive blend of high-intensity football was superb.