Alex Neil quizzed on Everton's Ellis Simms, transfers, Coventry City and the upcoming Championship season

Sunderland are preparing for their Championship opener against Coventry on Sunday – and Black Cats boss Alex Neil held his pre-match press conference today.

Thursday, 28th July 2022, 10:03 am

A bumper crowd is set to attend the match at the Stadium of Light to see the Black Cats kick off their new campaign.

Neil is also hopeful the club can complete some more signings in the coming weeks, with the transfer window set to shut at the end of August.

Here’s what was said in the broadcast section of the press conference:

Sunderland boss Alex Neil

RECAP: Alex Neil press conference

Last updated: Thursday, 28 July, 2022, 09:51

  • Sunderland face Coventry City in their first Championship fixture of the season on Sunday.
  • Black Cats boss Alex Neil held his pre-match press conference earlier today.
  • Neil was asked about the transfer market and expectations for the upcoming campaign.

That brings us to the end of the broadcast section of the press conference, but Neil has also spoken to the written press including our chief SAFC writer Phil Smith.

We’ll have more from the Black Cats boss, as well as build-up to Saturday’s match over on the SAFC section of the Echo website.

Neil on the season ahead

“I’m really looking forward to it. My point of coming here was to show what I was capable of and getting this club back to where it should be.

“I think this year is going to be really exciting, it will be difficult at times and I just hope the fans stay with us.”

Neil on players signing new contracts

“I think it’s important to keep the camaraderie and team spirit which are crucial.

“I think they delivered really well for us at the end of last season and they are experienced players, which for us isn’t nesserality the model we are going down.

“But instead we are maybe trying to recruit six or seven rather than trying to recruit eight or nine.

“It does take a certain type of player to come to Sunderland and perform because there isn’t as much scrutiny and pressure on you at the vast majority of other clubs, even at Championship level.”

Neil asked about Ellis Simms

“There’s nothing I can mention, no.”

Neil on the transfer window

“I think the market has been difficult for everyone.

“If you look at the clubs in the league at the moment not a lot of them have done all their business, I think probably Cardiff are the one that have added most and Huddersfield have added bits and bobs.

“We have teams like ourselves, teams like Middlesbrough, some other ones that you know need to strengthen between now and the end of the window.

“I think particularly at the top end of the pitch, that market hasn’t been particularly smooth going into this season.”

Neil on expectations

“The fact is we have very little knowledge as a club in the Championship.

“Even the year we spent there we fell right out of the league so I think for a lot of people it will be a new experience for us.

“I’m hoping that we go into it with optimism but naturally we have to understand where we currently are because we are going to a better level.”

Neil on Coventry - a role model for Sunderland?

“I certainly think they are a team that we can look at and think that is a path we are going down more so, because there are other teams that have maybe flung money at it.

“It’s not only the teams that have just come down, it’s the teams like West Brom that are maybe in their third year of parachute payments.

“If you have spent years in the Premier League, you have two or three seasons of money coming in.

“I think Coventry are a team which have steadily built gradually, worked their way up to where they are.

“I think someone mentioned Luton, they have been building for four or five seasons as well, so there is a considerable difference to where those teams are and where we currently are.”

Neil on Sunderland’s resources

“What we have to understand is where we have been for the last four seasons, we have been in League One .

“There has got to be an element of realism of where we currently are, if you are going to pitch us next to Norwich, Watford and Burnley who have come down from the Premier League and have got the riches of parachute payments, we are not at that level right now.

“The simple fact is there have been a lot of figures bandied about in pre-season which are untrue.

“We have a strategy to try and find the best young talent we can afford, develop them and make them better, and we have a hard core of senior players that are there to facilitate them.

“We have a sustainable model and do it within our resources we make as a club.”

Neil on stepping up to the Championship

“I think we have a team that is an unknown quantity really in the Championship.

“Naturally we have come off a high last season winning promotion and we have got good players

“It is going to be a learning curve for a lot of them, I’d probably say three quarters of the squad haven’t played at Championship level, even the year we did spend in the Championship as a club we fell right through it.

“It will certainly be a learning experience for us but we are looking forward to it and are optimistic.”

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