Next Birmingham City manager: What former Stoke City boss Alex Neil has said about his next job

Alex Neil has been out of work since being sacked by Stoke City in December 2023. He could be offered a return to the dugout by Birmingham City. (Image: Getty Images)Alex Neil has been out of work since being sacked by Stoke City in December 2023. He could be offered a return to the dugout by Birmingham City. (Image: Getty Images)
Alex Neil has been out of work since being sacked by Stoke City in December 2023. He could be offered a return to the dugout by Birmingham City. (Image: Getty Images) | Getty Images
A key contender for the Birmingham City job has outlined his ideal setting for his next role.

Birmingham City manager candidate Alex Neil has said he is keen to replicate the job that he did at Preston North End.

Blues are reported to be in talks with Neil over the possibility of him taking over at St Andrew’s. It is stressed that they are only ‘initial talks’ and that the appointment process is still ongoing.

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The 42-year-old has been out of work since he was sacked as manager of Stoke City. He was Potters boss for 16 months after choosing to leave Sunderland after promotion - where he would be replaced by Tony Mowbray.

Neil has had a period of reflection and is happy to get back in to work either this summer or in to the next year. He discussed the different scenarios a manager faces when they take over a club and how he would approach his next job.

“Obviously, I’ve been on a few holidays since I left Stoke and had time to reflect - as you do,” said Neil to sister paper the Lancashire Evening Post.

“Every club you work at is very, very different... they are not even similar. Honestly, even the structure of things and how you report to people. And what happens is, when you walk into any club people try and paint an understanding of the situation the club is in.

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“But, every club you walk into, when you lift the bonnet up and look under it, you think: ‘Oo, right, OK, it’s a little bit different than what I thought’. And then, you’ve got to try and make the best use of what you’ve got - and try win as many games as you can. But yeah, for me, I’ll just look for the next challenge and see what comes up over the summer, or into next year.”

Neil has been in the world of English football management for the last nine years. He arrived at Norwich City in 2015 on the back of winning promotion with Hamilton Academical and was an immediate success at Carrow Road, guiding them to play-off success in his first year.

The former defensive midfielder held down a job in the Premier League with the Canaries before being relieved of his duties, and was in charge of Preston North End for around four years. He could not get them promoted but the seventh placed finish in 2018 is the closest they have got to reaching the play-offs.

Neil did get Sunderland promoted however, ending a four-year stay in League One to get the Black Cats up through the play-offs. He opted not to stay around and instead moved to Stoke City at the end of August, and lasted 16 months at the bet365 Stadium.

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It is what Neil did at Preston that he is aiming to replicate at his next club. He arrived in the summer of 2021 and was allowed to assemble his own squad whilst working with the players already there.

Asked what he would like in his next job, he said: “I want to get... to be honest, I’d like to try and recreate what I had at Preston for those years - in terms of having a squad I really enjoy, having players that are hungry, want to make their way and want to achieve.

“You don’t come across it very often, but I was fortunate I managed to walk into the right changing room at the right time. I’d like to try and do that again.”

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