Alex Neil reveals next job hopes amid Sunderland vacancy and Stoke City reflections

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The former Sunderland boss is currently out of work after leaving Stoke City earlier this season

Former Sunderland boss Alex Neil has revealed his hopes for his next job after being sacked by Stoke City earlier this year - and has reflected on his dismissal by The Potters.

Neil joined Sunderland in January 2022, taking over from Lee Johnson after the former Fleetwood Town manager was sacked following a 6-0 thrashing away to Bolton Wanderers. The Scot guided Sunderland into the play-offs and then to a win against Sheffield Wednesday over two legs in the semi-finals, and then a memorable 2-0 win against Wycombe Wanderers at Wembley.

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Neil started the 2022-23 season as Sunderland's head coach but left to join Stoke City back in August, the day before a game, which led to the appointment of Tony Mowbray. Neil was then sacked as Potters manager earlier this campaign after an underwhelming spell.

“Obviously, I’ve been on a few holidays since I left Stoke and had time to reflect - as you do. Every club you work at is very, very different... they are not even similar. Honestly, even the structure of things and how you report to people. And what happens is, when you walk into any club people try and paint an understanding of the situation the club is in,” Neil recently said.

“But, every club you walk into, when you lift the bonnet up and look under it, you think: ‘Oo, right, OK, it’s a little bit different than what I thought’. And then, you’ve got to try and make the best use of what you’ve got - and try win as many games as you can. But yeah, for me, I’ll just look for the next challenge and see what comes up over the summer, or into next year.”

Sunderland and several other clubs in the EFL and Scotland are searching for the next head coach with Neil’s name often featuring in the betting. Neil, however, wants to return to the feeling he had with former club Preston North End

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“I want to get... to be honest, I’d like to try and recreate what I had at Preston for those years - in terms of having a squad I really enjoy, having players that are hungry, want to make their way and want to achieve. You don’t come across it very often, but I was fortunate I managed to walk into the right changing room at the right time. I’d like to try and do that again.”

On walking into Stoke from Sunderland, Neil added: “Yeah, Stoke was a bit different in the fact that - if I’d walked in during the summer when we needed to churn things around - I think what you get is a bit of a blank canvas. And you’ve got time to try and build the club. What I had to do was, basically, walk-in 12 months earlier and then see that squad through. We only signed frees or loans, because we didn’t have any money. We had to sell Harry Souttar in the January, to make sure we fell in line with FFP and didn’t break the rules - which we did.

“It gave us a pot of cash to spend in the summer, but again, we signed six frees and five loans. All the ones we put our money into were key assets. So, Bae Jun-ho - who I think won Player of the Year. Wouter Burger, who won second Player of the Year. And Ryan Mmaee who, for me, will become a really good player for them.”

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