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West Brom managerial target Alex Neil expects 'something to take place over next couple of days'

By Matt Wilson | West Bromwich Albion | Published:

Albion's number one managerial target Alex Neil expects 'something to take place over the next couple of days'.

Alex Neil. (AMA)

The Preston North End boss, who brought his team to The Hawthorns today, left the door open to an approach from the Baggies.

Albion are keen to take Neil from today's opponents and are expected to make a formal offer to the Lancashire club in the next 48 hours.

Although Preston's press officer forbade questions about Neil's managerial future from the post-match press conference, the 37-year-old voluntarily spoke about the situation.

Neil admitted he couldn't be sure if it was his last game in charge of Preston, and apologised to the North End supporters for ruining their day.

He also said the managerial speculation affected his players in a first half that saw them fall 3-0 behind to the Baggies.

When asked if it was his last game in charge of Preston, Neil said: "The problem I've got is I can't answer that question, because what I wouldn't want to do is say definitely yes or definitely no and be a hypocrite.

"I'd like to think I'm a man who is as good as his word. The problem I've got is I'm not in control of that situation.

"I'd imagine something would take place over the next couple of days and then whatever will happen will happen from that point."

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Neil insisted he had not spoken to anyone at Albion and that Preston had not been approached. But he is expecting an approach soon.

"I wouldn't imagine it's going to run until (the next game on Friday)," he said. "This type of thing needs to get brought to a conclusion.

"The frustrating thing for me is I've not spoken to anyone, there's been no approach to Preston, so I'm answering a question based on nothing.

"I don't know what people want me to say, there's nothing to say.

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"If you're asking me a question I haven't got an answer to I don't really no what to say. But when I'm not in control of the situation that becomes tough.

"When you've got a decision to make, you're in control. There's no decision to make, I'm the Preston manager, I've got a rolling contract and that was the case before the game as it is right this second."

Preston were poor in the first half and fell 3-0 down to Albion thanks to two Dwight Gayle goals in four minutes and a Jay Rodriguez effort.

And Neil thought the managerial speculation affected his team.

"I certainly thought the speculation got to the players today," said Neil. "We're a really young group, I thought it showed.

"Everything that surrounds it became a pantomime before the game.

"I could actually see it in their eyes before the match, and that's the disappointing thing for me.

"It's not my doing but it's affected them and Gentry Day for our fans, which I apologise for. That made me frustrated."

Although Neil was disappointed with how his team dealt with the situation, he also apologised for it.

"I don't want to criticise my team too much because over the course of me being here they've been outstanding," he said.

"Just today, everything that surrounded it, the fact it's because of me that that's happened makes me disappointed and frustrated. Unfortunately I can't take it back.

"I addressed the players before the game and said 'listen, we're here to win a game'.

"But when you're a young lad you've never been in that situation before.

"I've been their leader for such a vital part of their career because a lot of them have just started out and when that gets questioned their minds start to wander.

"I'm not giving any excuses but I definitely think it had an affect."

The Preston fans were all wearing bowler hats for Gentry Day, an annual celebration to remember fans who have passed away.

"It's Gentry Day for our fans, it means a massive amount for people who have been lost," said Neil.

"If I'm being honest, I feel I've ruined it for supporters which frustrates me.

"All I can do is apologise to our fans, I love being at Preston, I've really thoroughly enjoyed everything we've done.

"They'll be disappointed and frustrated by me.

"To be honest, I'm more frustrated because in my whole career, it's never been about me.

"I'll let the players do the talking, and today that distracted from them."

Matt Wilson

By Matt Wilson
Football MMPJ - @mattwilson_star

Sports reporter at the Express & Star, who primarily covers West Bromwich Albion.

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