Sunderland AFC news: Everything Kristjaan Speakman said about Alex Neil's future and contract

Kristjaan Speakman says he has held positive talks with Alex Neil about Sunderland’s first campaign back in the Championship.
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Neil was appointed on a 12-month rolling contract in February and said after the club’s play-off win that he wanted to take it forward.

However, he also added that he needed to hold talks about the plans moving forward to ensure the team would be able to handle the significant rise in quality next season.

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With the retained list released on Wednesday evening Sunderland’s Sporting Director says that process has begun and has done so positively.

Alex Neil celebrates with the Sunderland squadAlex Neil celebrates with the Sunderland squad
Alex Neil celebrates with the Sunderland squad

“We've got a lot of clarity around what we are, how we're working and what the strategy is,” Speakman said.

“Naturally it's a big step up the Championship because it's a completely different entity.

“Alex has managed in the Championship and he understands what the requirements are, and it's about how we make the transition.

“I think we're really aligned on how we do that.

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“I spent all of Sunday night speaking to Alex about how we do that, all of Monday morning about that.

“We see a lot of it very, very similarly.

“It's then just about executing it. I think it's natural that any head coach [would want clarity]. “We hadn't had loads of discussions about the Championship because we had to be respectful of the fact that we have incredibly tough games against Sheffield Wednesday in play-off semi finals, and then again against Wycombe in the final.

“My job is to plan for the future and his job is to try and win those games. That's where that balance is between the head coach implementing what we're trying to do and getting the team in the best position, which he has been incredibly good at doing, and then for the likes of myself, Stuart [Harvey], Steve [Davision] getting us in a position so that we're not starting from scratch, which we’re not.

“That's effective organisation.

“We ran a really rigorous recruitment process because we wanted to get the right person for the job.

“Alex has demonstrated he was the right person.”

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Speakman says the situation is ‘always’ under review but hinted that he does not expect the two parties to agree a new long-term deal in the near future.

He insists that everyone is happy with the current arrangement.

“I absolutely understand the sentiment of the question,” Speakman said.

“Take Alex out of the equation for a second and talk about the principle of it. You see people all the time come out and say, it's a six-year contract or it's a four-year contract or however long. But there's a three-month pay off.... so it's a three-month contract!

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“You can sell an agreement any which way you want. What's important is that all the individuals involved are happy with the agreement, and with a 12-month rolling contract Alex is tied down.

“Alex has been an incredible part of our journey and he deserves every accolade he's getting.

“He's a fundamental part of what we're doing. At the minute, everyone is happy [with the contract].

“It’s all systems go on the future at the moment. We knew we were taking a Championship manager back in February because we wanted to be ready for this moment.”