Neil the right fit for PNE says ex-boss Irvine

Former Preston manager Alan Irvine
Former Preston manager Alan Irvine

Alan Irvine knows plenty about Preston North End and Alex Neil – and believes they are a good fit.

Irvine managed PNE for two years and more recently, was Neil’s first-team coach at Norwich City.

Alan irvine talks with ex-PNE boss Simon Grayson at Deepdale last season

Alan irvine talks with ex-PNE boss Simon Grayson at Deepdale last season

When Neil lost his job in March, Irvine was appointed the Canaries’ caretaker boss until the end of last season.

As Neil prepares for his first Championship game in charge of North End against Sheffield Wednesday, Irvine is tipping his fellow Scot to do well in the Deepdale hotseat.

“Alex is very passionate, very determined, he has got a lot of good qualities as a young manager,” Irvine told the Post.

“Like all of us, he still has things to learn and he will have reflected on things in his time out of the game.

Preston manager Alex Neil

Preston manager Alex Neil

“I think Alex will do really well at Preston, he is a good fit for the club.

“It will be really interesting watching how the season goes.

“Preston has a big place in my heart and I always look out for them – it is a club which is really important to me.”

Irvine’s association with Neil started 13 months ago.

“I was away on holiday in Portugal and right out of the blue I got a phone call from Alex asking for a chat,” said Irvine.

“He was asking whether I would be interested in going to Norwich as his first-team coach?

“Alex was good to work with, he has got some good ideas about the game.

“He thinks about the game a great deal, he thinks deeply about his tactics.

“His preparation for a game is very thorough.

“The players will learn a lot from him and realise they will have to work very hard to stay in the team.

“I felt that one of the big qualities Preston had under Simon Grayson was how hard they worked in games.

“They will want to keep that work ethic and Alex will make sure they do.”

Irvine, 59, left Norwich at the end of the season after his stint as caretaker.

He is keen to return to the game but only as a manager rather than a coach.

“I took over from Alex at Norwich, I had the last two months of last season, 10 games,” said Irvine.

“We were the first team to win at Preston for quite a while.

“My team-talk before that game was how hard Preston worked and I started it by showing them a clip of Tom Barkhuizen and Jordan Hugill on a very fast counter-attack.

“I told the Norwich lads ‘that is what you will be up against’.

“That time with Norwich whetted my appetite and I will wait to see what comes up.

“I’m not chasing things too hard but if the right job came up, I would go back in.

“I want a manager’s role, I’ve had three offers already but none of them were as a manager.”