No ill feelings: Preston boss Alex Neil ready for return to Norwich

Then and now. Alex Neil won promotion to the Premier League during his time with Norwich.
Then and now. Alex Neil won promotion to the Premier League during his time with Norwich.

Alex Neil remembers the ‘great time’ he had in charge of Norwich and doesn’t feel he has to settle any scores when returning to Carrow Road with Preston this weekend.

The Scotsman was in post with the Canaries for two years and two months, with it an eventful time.

Alex Neil in the Carrow Road dugout ahead of Preston's visit last season.

Alex Neil in the Carrow Road dugout ahead of Preston's visit last season.

Neil guided them back to the Premier League within four months of his arrival.

But they lasted only one season in the top flight and when Norwich were not in the promotion frame in March, Neil paid with his job.

It was in January 2015 that Neil moved to East Anglia, the work he had done in Scotland with Hamilton catching the eye of Norwich.

“Making the move was the simplest decision I had ever had to make because Norwich was such a big club,” said Neil.

“A lot of credit has to go to them and David McNally in particular, in that they had the courage to give me the job.

“I was a complete unknown in England from a manager’s point of view.

“The team needed to go up, like any team which had come down from the Premier League.

“When you come down with parachute payments, it is crucial you get back up as quickly as possible.

“I suffered from that last season when I left because I had not done that.

“I understand that, I’m fine with it.”

So from Neil’s point of view, is there anything more riding on Saturday’s clash?

The Preston manager doesn’t think there is.

Said Neil: “Naturally their fans will see it as me going back there to try and put one over on them but that really isn’t the case.

“I don’t hold any ill-feelings, if anything I have a lot of gratitude towards them more than anything.

“The fans were fantastic for the majority of the time I was there.

“At the end, the fans behaved in the way they did because we were not winning games.

“This weekend, I want to go there and get the points because we need them.”

Many of the players who Neil worked with at Norwich remain at Carrow Road.

Among them is former Blackpool playmaker Wes Hoolahan.

The Republic of Ireland man is in his 10th season at Carrow Road and featured in their midweek 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest.

Neil said: “I had a great time at Norwich, we got promoted.

“I managed to have a crack at managing in the Premier League which was a great experience for me.

“There are certainly no grudges held by me towards anyone at the club or the club itself.”

The Canaries sit 15th in the table ahead of PNE’s visit.

Results have taken a bit of a dip since they beat Ipswich in the East Anglian derby last month.

They have lost four out of their last five Championship games, a draw with Barnsley breaking-up the losing run.

Before that downturn, they had been unbeaten in nine league and cup games.