Stoke City have appointed Alex Neil as their new manager. The club announced the news via their official website and Twitter page. 41-year-old Alex Neil leaves Sunderland having only arrived in February. Neil revitalised the Black Cats, going on an unbeaten run in League One and gaining promotion at Wembley against Wycombe Wanderers in the playoff final.
Alex Neil to Stoke City Confirmed
We're delighted to confirm the appointment Alex Neil as our new manager! 🤝
— Stoke City FC (@stokecity) August 28, 2022
Potters Make Quick Work of Appointing New Manager
Stoke sacked manager Michael O’Neil on Thursday following the defeat at the hands of Sunderland last weekend. Alex Neil was quickly made the favourite for the job despite only arriving at the Stadium of Light this year.
With Sunderland in fifth position at the time and performing well in their first season back in the Championship, it appeared that Neil would be unlikely to move on. However, on Friday morning, reports began to circulate that Neil could be about to leave.
Sunderland released a statement on Friday to say the club was contractually obliged to permit the head coach to start a dialogue with the Potters but hoped they could retain his services.
Sunderland AFC can confirm that Alex Neil has entered into discussions with Stoke City regarding their current managerial vacancy.
— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) August 26, 2022
However, any talks between Sunderland and Neil were to no avail. Alex Neil said his goodbyes to the Black Cats squad on Friday morning before travelling to Stoke to finalise his move.
This is Alex Neil’s fifth managerial appointment. Prior to joining Sunderland, the Scot was in charge at Hamilton Academical, Norwich City, leading them to the Premier League followed by four years at Preston North End.
Neil was present at Ewood Park to see his new team beat Blackburn Rovers 1-0. He will now take charge of his first game as Potters boss on Wednesday when they entertain Swansea City.
Caretaker Dean Holden who oversaw the victory at Blackburn has also left City with the club issuing a statement on Saturday night.
Stoke City Welcome Alex Neil
Soon after Neil put pen to paper on his Stoke contract, the Potters released a statement welcoming their new manager. Joint Chairman John Coates said: “Alex was our number one choice to become our new manager and I’m delighted we have secured his services so quickly.
“His managerial pedigree is excellent with three promotions already on his CV and we are looking forward to working closely with him to help him realise the ambitions that he and the Club share.”
Where Now for Sunderland?
The events of the past 24-48 hours will hurt Sunderland and their fans badly. Following their Wembley win and starting their Championship season brightly, hope was rising throughout Wearside that the future was looking bright. However, they are now without a manager once again.
It must be noted that Alex Neil leaves Sunderland in a much better position than they were when he first arrived; however, his departure will leave a sour taste in the mouths of those who support the Black Cats and his reputation on Wearside will be tarnished forever.
Sunderland suffered a 1-0 defeat at home to Norwich City on Saturday; however, the performance of the players in light of recent events will have been an encouragement to fans.
Questions will be asked in abundance about how this happened and Sunderland and Alex Neil should answer. The club must now find a suitable replacement for Alex Neil quickly. Many names will be added to the list of candidates over the coming days and the Black Cats can ill afford for their search to be another long drawn-out affair.
At present former Blackburn, Middlesbrough and Celtic manager Tony Mowbray is the leading contender according to the Sunderland Echo. Whoever is appointed, the club and fans alike must look forward and not back.
For Stoke City, they now have an ambitious manager whose stock is on the rise following his short spell at the Stadium of Light. Should Neil be able to replicate his achievements at Sunderland and Norwich City in particular, then the Potters could be set for a good season.