Neil delighted to be at PNE

New Preston North End manager Alex Neil says he has an 'exciting challenge' ahead of him at Deepdale.

Wednesday, 5th July 2017, 7:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:54 am
Alex Neil at Deepdale
Alex Neil at Deepdale

The Scotsman was introduced to the media at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, with him having accepted the job the day before.

He succeeds Simon Grayson who left North End last Thursday to take the Sunderland manager's role.

It marks a return to management for 36-year-old Neil after he left Norwich City in March.

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Alex Neil's first press conference at PNE

Neil said: "It is a great feeling obviously to be back in management.

"In actual footballing terms I only missed the final six weeks of last season so to get myself back into such a good role with an exciting challenge is great, I'm really looking forward to it.

"A couple of things really attracted me to Preston, I wanted a project - and I've said that since I left Norwich - that could potentially allow me to build something and work towards the Premier League.

"It is a club which has made good progression in the last four years.

Alex Neil's first press conference at PNE

"After I had spoken to Peter Ridsdale and the owner, I was sold on making sure this was the next place I wanted to come and build something.

"It is a different task here than at Norwich.

"When I went to Norwich initially in was in a January and it was a case of 'that's your squad' and I had four or five months to try and get that squad into the Premier League.

"We managed to do that which was great.

"It is very different at Preston, we have got a young, hungry team which has made progression over the last few years, we have to build on that team and squad.

"Whether it be one year or two years, it is a process and the ambition of the club is to get itself into the Premier League.

"I'm not going to be daft enough to turn around and say I'm going to do that this year and put huge amounts of pressure on myself, but our goal is to continue that progression, push ourselves further and further up.

"Like you have seen with other teams - we saw it with Huddersfield last season - you never know where that might take you."

Neil does not think a great deal of change will be needed when he starts the job, it being more about tinkering with what he finds rather than starting all over again.

He will meet the players on Thursday morning and watch Friday night's friendly at Bamber Bridge from the stand, first-team coach Steve Thompson overseeing things on the touchline.

This is his third job in management, a spell in charge of Scottish club Hamilton coming before his time at Norwich.

"I'm not going to come here and rip up anything which is already put in place - what is in place already is sound," said Neil.

"The staff who didn't go with Simon will remain here and I will be looking to work closely with them, as I did at Norwich when I went in there.

"With the playing squad, it will be more a case of tinkering with it rather than wholesale changes.

"They have proven themselves to be a good squad, they have proven themselves to be hungry players who want to find their way in the game.

"I'm basically here to help them, build on that squad, push it and hopefully take it on to a new level."