Sunderland are in advanced talks regarding a deal to appoint Alex Neil as Lee Johnson’s successor at the Stadium of Light.
That’s according to a claim made by Keith Downie, with the Sky Sports journalist revealing in a recent post on Twitter that, after a breakdown in negotiations with Roy Keane, Kristjaan Speakman and his Sunderland recruitment team are now in advanced discussions with the former Preston North End and Norwich City manager regarding the vacant position in the Black Cats dugout.
In his tweet, Downie said: “Alex Neil is in advanced talks with Sunderland over their managerial vacancy, I understand. Talks with Roy Keane have broken down in the last 24 hours. SAFC want a new boss in charge before Saturday’s match against Wimbledon.”
While things did not end particularly well for Neil in his most recent spell in management – being sacked by Preston after one win in nine Championship fixtures – the 40-year-old has nevertheless proven in the past that he is more than capable of guiding teams to promotion, something that is clearly a major factor in Sunderland’s interest.
Indeed, in his first managerial position, the Scotsman led Hamilton Academical to promotion via the play-offs in his first full season in charge, before leaving the club sitting third in the Scottish Premiership the following season, after Norwich City made an approach for the young coach.
In Norfolk, the 40-year-old immediately repeated his feat with Hamilton at Carrow Road, securing a third-place finish in the second-tier before winning promotion to the Premier League with one of the most dominating performances in a play-off final in recent memory.
And, speaking after the Canaries’ promotion, then-Norwich defender Sebastien Bassong praised Neil’s influence on his side, stating: “He came here with such confidence and football knowledge. And he’s Scottish so he’s got great heart. You can’t mess with him. He’s straight, he’s a fair man. He knew what he wanted to do and he did it. He was the kind of manager we really needed to get us going and get promoted. It was a perfect fit.”
As such, with the Black Cats desperate to get their own promotion push back on track after a dismal run of form in 2022 – having won just one of their seven league fixtures this year – the appointment of a manager with a record such as Neil’s would indeed look to be a perfect fit for the Mackems.