Preston North End boss Alex Neil applauds Middlesbrough manager Neil Warnock's longevity in football

Preston North End boss Alex Neil very much doubts he will still be managing in his 70s, unlike Neil Warnock who brings Middlesbrough to Deepdale on Wednesday night.

By Dave Seddon
Monday, 7th December 2020, 12:31 pm
Updated Monday, 7th December 2020, 12:32 pm

Warnock turned 72 last week and Boro are the 16th club he has managed in a career going back to the early 1980s.

Neil is a young pup in comparison at 39, with him only hitting 40 next June.

“I’ll be lucky if I’m still alive at 72 the way things are going,” said Neil with a smile as he looked ahead to the clash with Boro.

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Preston North End boss Alex Neil with Neil Warnock (right) when Warnock was Cardiff manager

“I certainly can’t see myself managing at 72, that seems a long time away.

“I’m only 39 at the moment although I might not look it.

“Put it this way, I played for about 15 years and I have managed for about seven or eight years. I know which one I prefer.”

Neil is the second youngest full-time manager in the Championship, 37-year-old Huddersfield boss Carlos Corberan his junior.

Wayne Rooney is holding the fort at Derby County while they search for a new manager, the former England skipper aged 35.

Warnock is very much the senior figure at this level, with Sheffield Wednesday boss Tony Pulis the next oldest at the age of 62.

Neil is full of respect for Warnock’s longevity and knows his Boro side will be tough opposition.

If PNE are to get their home form into any kind of shape, they will have to be far better against the Teessiders than they have been for most games at Deepdale this season.

“Neil Warnock’s teams have always been the same,” said Neil.

“It doesn’t matter whether you put a Rotherham badge on it, a Cardiff badge or a Boro badge, the only thing that changes it is the quality of the players carrying out his message.

“They will be direct, in your face, they will go with a man-to-man marking system.

“Middlesbrough will make it difficult and we will have to be competitive.

“We won’t have a lot of time to move the ball so we will have to do that well.

“For Neil to have done this job for as long as he has, to do it with a tried and tested method wherever he goes, he deserves a huge amount of respect and credit.”

Warnock took the reins at Boro in June, to start with on a temporary basis, before being handed the job full-time. He’s the 14th longest-serving boss in the Championship, Neil the sixth’s longest.

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