Alex Neil leaves Preston North End, with Frankie McAvoy appointed interim head coach

Preston North End have parted company with manager Alex Neil and put Frankie McAvoy in charge as interim head coach for the rest of the season.

Sunday, 21st March 2021, 3:02 pm

The 39-year-old Scot left Deepdale on Sunday in the wake of the 1-0 defeat to Luton Town on Saturday.

That was North End's 20th Championship loss of the season and they have won only three times in 2021.

McAvoy, who came to Preston with Neil having worked with him at Hamilton Academical and Norwich City, has been given the interim head coach role - interestingly not interim manager.

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Alex Neil on the touchline during Preston North End's defeat to Luton at Deepdale

He will work with Steve Thompson, goalkeeper coach Mike Pollitt and Paul Gallagher for the remainder of the season.

A statement released by PNE on Sunday afternoon said: "Preston North End can confirm it has parted company with its manager Alex Neil.

"Alex joined the club in July 2017 and leaves with the best wishes of the club for the future.

"It is the intention Frankie McAvoy will take the role of interim head coach and work with Steve Thompson, Paul Gallagher and Paul Gallagher in taking the team for the remaining eight games of the season."

Frankie McAvoy (left) will take over as interim head coach from Alex Neil at Preston North End

Neil took the PNE job in July 2017, replacing Simon Grayson who had left for Sunderland.

In his first season, he guided the Lilywhites to a seventh-place finish, their highest since 2009.

The 2018/19 campaign saw North End finish 14th after they'd been outside the top six only on goal difference in March.

Neil guided Preston to the top of the Championship in November 2019, just after Stoke had tried to lure him away from Lancashire.

They were in play-off contention when the season was paused by the Covid-19 pandemic in March last year but their form has largely deserted them since June's restart.

Last season they finished ninth and Neil leaves North End in 16th place, nine points clear of the relegation zone but with third-bottom Rotherham having four games in hands.

PNE's three games after the international break are against leaders Norwich, third-place Swansea and Brentford who are fourth.

Neil cut a downcast figure in his post-match press conference after the Luton defeat.

He admitted to looking over his shoulder at the relegation zone, with January's chaotic transfer window seemingly knocking him off course.

Tellingly, Neil used the phrase 'not having a Scooby-Doo' about what his best team was in the wake of all in the incomings and outgoings in January.

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