Alex Neil goes full circle in popularity stakes with Preston North End fans

PNE manager Alex Neil and club advisor Peter Ridsdale
PNE manager Alex Neil and club advisor Peter Ridsdale

Preston manager Alex Neil admits popularity in football can swing back and forth in the blink of an eye.

Last weekend was a perfect example with speculation rife over Neil’s future at PNE.

West Bromwich Albion were being strongly linked with him and to muddy the waters, North End played the Baggies.

With Neil’s men losing 4-1, he probably was not the most popular man among the Preston supporters in the away end of The Hawthorns that afternoon.

By dinnertime on Sunday, the ink was fresh on a new three-year contract with the Lilywhites and Neil was back in the good books.

Neil said: “When people were thinking without any knowledge that I wanted to go elsewhere, or that I was going to go elsewhere, naturally what happens is that they go from having an opinion of you to thinking, ‘He can do one’ and all the rest of it.

“That is human nature, it’s a bit like losing a girlfriend isn’t it?

“You want to keep her, she doesn’t want to stay so you think, ‘Right, do one then’.

“Then she says she might want to stay, so you sa,y ‘Okay then, we’ll put it to one side’!

“It is par of the course for a manager.

“If things are going well you get the credit, if it isn’t you get all the speculation.

“Naturally you get a bit of a stick but all is forgotten as far as I’m concerned.

“I want to crack on and let’s hope that we can have a really successful couple of years coming up.”

Neil, meanwhile, says his working relationship with Peter Ridsdale was key in him signing his new contract.

Ridsdale, advisor to North End owner Trevor Hemmings, has worked closely with Neil and was instrumental in bringing him to the club in July 2017.

Said Neil: “I get on with Peter – as well as I have got on with anybody in a working relationship in that role, without a shadow of doubt.

“We are completely joined up, we know what we want to do here.

“There is so much hunger and desire within the club to go and achieve things.

“To be fair to the owner, he puts the money in to help us.

“He gives us that backing and gives me the time to make sure I can do as well as I can.

“I will give it my best and hope that will be enough – I believe in the lads here.”

North End face Ipswich on Friday at Deepdale (3pm) and then make the trip to Wigan on Easter Monday.