Stoke City boss pleased with Preston North End reception at 'home from home'

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Alex Neil was pleased with the reception he got from the Preston North End fans as his Stoke City side beat his former club 2-0.

Neil spent almost four years at Deepdale from 2017 and was a bit apprehensive before his return to PR1. As the Scot was nearing the end of his time at the club there was of course tension rising on the then North End manager but he is glad the frustrations are now forgotten about.

Will Smallbone scored the opening goal of the game before Tyrese Campbell sealed the win, both goals coming in the second half, with the Potters preventing PNE from even having a shot on target in their own stadium.

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The 41-year-old is still well respected on the terraces at Deepdale and that was shown with applause for the Stoke head coach as he emerged from the tunnel.

Stoke City manager Alex Neil controls the ball at Deepdale.Stoke City manager Alex Neil controls the ball at Deepdale.
Stoke City manager Alex Neil controls the ball at Deepdale.

“I was really pleased, I'm not going to lie about that,” he said.

"I felt I did a lot of good work here and everybody has their own opinion on things, which is fine. But I really enjoyed my time here and as always things come to an end at some point. I wish the club well and I really do hope they do well this and finish just behind us, but high up the division.

“It was strange because it's like a home from home. I spent four years here which is the longest I've spent at any club in management. I have a lot of fond memories here.

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"When you leave any club there are always going to be bits at the end that aren't the way you would like it to be. Whether it be me leaving and the fans being unhappy with me or they want me to leave and they're unhappy with me that way, it only happens two ways doesn't it? Unless you retire and I'm not at that age at the moment.

"It's nice to be back, it really is. It's nice to see a lot of familiar faces, it's a great club. I really enjoyed my time here and I wish them well. Except for when we're playing them.”

There were six of his former charges in the starting XI for North End on Saturday but his personal knowledge of the Lilywhites’ team didn’t play a part in the game according to Neil.

Neil feels more that his knowledge of the division is what gives him an edge in game but did admit he knew the result would have stung for the PNE players.

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He said: “I've got a really good knowledge of every player in the division because I've played against them that often over a number of years now. There isn't really anything that crops up as a coach, or shouldn't crop if you do your work properly. You should know all their strengths and weaknesses.

"What I will say is you do have a better insight naturally having worked with the players because sometimes the perception when you don't know them is different to if you walk in the building and you're with those lads.

"Those lads will be hurting tonight for Preston, they're extremely proud and they give everything they've got. You can certainly not question that aspect of them.”