Following the surprise sacking of Darren Moore, Preston manager Alex Neil is reportedly West Brom’s preferred choice to take the hotseat. The Scot himself has been forced to fend off questions about leaving Preston for the Hawthorns, saying on Saturday that he expects something to take place – one way or the other – within the coming days.
But bearing in mind they’re all but mathematically confirmed to be in the playoffs, meaning Premier League football next season is a distinct possibility, is the 37-year-old the right man for the job? Football FanCast’s writers deliver their verdicts below…
“Neil isn’t the right manager for West Brom. He has shown in the past that he can be a good man to have in charge when in the Championship, guiding Norwich into the Premier League via the play-offs. However, when in the top-flight, he looked very much out of his depth and was ultimately sacked. Right now, the Baggies look capable of achieving promotion with James Shan, and should be looking for a more accomplished figure than Neil to take over.”
“I think he would be a good appointment. West Brom need to realise what they are, and it is never going to be a free-flowing attacking team no matter how much they try. Experiments with Alan Pardew and Darren Moore have ultimately failed as they were too easy to beat, even if their goal tally may have been boosted under the latter in particular. Neil is a manager who gets his teams organised defensively, and doesn’t mind hitting a long ball if it helps his side cause a threat and get the results they need. It may not be pretty all of the time but it is effective. At the end of the day plenty of Baggies supporters wanted change as they were unhappy with life under Moore, so fans will be in no position to moan should he get the job.”
“The Preston boss was fantastic when he first joined Norwich in 2015, winning 17 of a possible 25 games in his first season at the helm, taking the Canaries up to the Premier League through the playoffs. They were of course relegated at the first try, but even Neil himself admitted that was mostly down to recruitment. Now at Deepdale, the Scot has taken an underwhelming squad to the brink of the play-offs, begging the question what would he be capable of at a bigger club with a bigger budget?”
“I think Alex Neil is an intriguing appointment and one which is bound to split opinion. The reaction rumours of Sam Alllardyce’s appointment evoked told us all we need to know about what the fans want to see and, while Neil will bring a more attractive brand of football than big Sam, big question marks over his ability to garner results are looming large. At this moment in time, however, it’s a gamble worth taking and he could be exactly what the Baggies need.”