Sunderland Appoint Alex Neil as New Head Coach

Sunderland Appoint Alex Neil

A managerial return to football has been confirmed as Sunderland appoint Alex Neil as head coach.

Former Norwich City and Preston North End manager Neil had been out of management since March 2021.

The Black Cats had been searching for a new head coach since sacking Lee Johnson with Roy Keane instantly becoming one of the favorites for the job. However, the former Manchester United legend and Black Cats boss turned down the offer.

In a quick change of direction, it saw Sunderland appoint Alex Neil ahead of a crucial game at AFC Wimbledon on Saturday, February 12.

Sunderland Appoint Alex Neil as New Head Coach After Roy Keane Rejects Offer

Alex Neil Wins Tough Race to Become New Sunderland Boss

The race to become the new manager of Sunderland was much more than a one-horse race. Roy Keane emerged as the favourite early on and until Thursday appeared to be heading for the job. However, Keane rejected the chance to take over and the Black Cats quickly moved on to Neil.  Several other managers wanted the job with the likes of former Hull City manager Grant McCann, who won the League One title last season, considered. Promotion specialist Neil Warnock was obviously in with a shout and former Celtic boss Neil Lennon and Chelsea legend John Terry were also heavily linked along with surprise candidate, current Melbourne manager Patrick Kisnorbo.

Alex Neil Delighted to be Back in Football

In his first interview as the new Sunderland head coach Alex Neil told “It is a privilege to be head coach of Sunderland AFC. Everything that I saw from the players this morning made me really confident and gave me belief, so what we now need to do is replicate that on a matchday – when it matters – under scrutiny and under pressure. Our task is to try and win as many games as we possibly can and at this moment in time we are focused on this season and this season alone.”

Club Statement

Following the appointment of Alex Neil, Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman added: “Throughout his career, Alex has demonstrated that he can make an immediate and lasting impact. He expressed a clear vision on how he wants to take the team forward, which strongly aligns with our core principals, and we firmly believe that he can influence performances and results in the short term.

“We are grateful to our supporters for their patience throughout what has undoubtedly been a challenging period and thank Mike Dodds and Michael Proctor for overseeing our first-team programme in the interim.

“Now, our immediate priority is to support Alex and the team to ensure we deliver promotion this season and reward the faith continuously placed in us by our supporters.”

Promotion the Aim and Alex Neil has Achieved It Previously

Sunderland are desperate for promotion and this will be Alex Neil’s sole objective in the short term. The Black Cats have struggled to get back into the Championship having fallen into League One in 2018. The good news for fans is that Alex Neil has led a club to promotion.

When appointed Norwich City manager in January 2015, Neil led the Canaries to the playoffs after winning 17 of his first 25 games in charge of the club. He led his team past rivals Ipswich Town and then Middlesbrough to be promoted to the Premier League.

However, Norwich were relegated after just one season and Neil left City the following season with the club sitting 8th in the Championship. He moved to Preston North End in the summer of 2017 leading them to a seventh-placed finish. He left by mutual consent in March 2021.

Neil took his first training session at Sunderland on Friday morning ahead of his first game in charge away at Wimbledon.


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