I like Alex Neil. I like his irascibility. I wasn’t totally opposed to him being appointed as manager. His record at Norwich and Preston stood up to scrutiny. It was just the mess-up by the club, after sacking Lee Johnson, that put Neil at a disadvantage.
Now he’s been in the job for a few weeks, his methods are starting to bear fruit. One defeat in seven games; three clean sheets; three wins and eleven goals scored against five conceded (and only one of those was in the last four games).
He quickly assessed the state of the club, in his first post-match press conference he recognised the club was relying on talented, but tired youngsters. And set about addressing the situation by resting the likes of Dan Neil.
As I mentioned in the introduction, he is following in a long line of irascible managers from north of the border. He has given Nick Barnes from BBC Radio Newcastle a little bit of the Fergie-hairdryer treatment in some of his responses to Barnes’s questions. He shakes off criticisms for poor displays in the Crewe and Fleetwood games. He is clearly his own man, has a vision of how to do things and won’t be put off by those shouting for the sidelines.
He does, however, seem to have a strange relationship with reality when appraising games. His assessment of the MK Dons game was: that the first half was 50:50; we were the better side In the second half and only lost the game due to two counter-attacks. That had many scratching their heads in bemusement.
This will be something to be cautious of going forward. Sunderland fans aren’t stupid. They can call a crock of sh*te as well as anyone. So I wouldn’t attempt to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes.
The initial signs are good. I like his no-nonsense approach and hope he gets the full backing of the hierarchy.