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Sunderland v Wycombe Wanderers - Sky Bet League One Play-Off Final

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RR’s 2021/22 End of Season Awards: Rate Alex Neil’s overall performance out of ten!

How would you rate Alex Neil’s performance as Sunderland manager out of ten? Our panel chat about how much they love the Scottish maestro in our latest end-of-season awards piece!

Photo by Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

Matty Foster says... 9/10!

What Alex Neil has achieved in such little time is phenomenal. He walked into a club coming off the back of three straight defeats including a six-nil thrashing away to Bolton.

Having been somewhat sceptical when he arrived, he has exceeded all my expectations by a country mile. He shored up a leaky defence who had shipped seventeen in seven games and made us a team not only difficult to beat, but one who kept going to the very final second. The sheer number of late goals we scored is a testament to that.

His approach to the press has also been a breath of fresh air. No clichés or soundbites, just straight to the point. It worked wonders in the build-up for the play-off games, taking any tenseness out of the games and instilling a sense of calm.

We can only wonder what could have been had we not dilly-dallied in making the appointment. Those two defeats under Mike Dodds could have seen an entirely different final finish.

But then again, we’d have not had the opportunity to take over London, and that memorable win at Wembley, so I guess we can thank Dodds for that!

Will Jones says... 10/10!

Anything less is undeserved. He has had to deal with a lot as manager from start to finish. From coming into a squad with defensive frailties and a lack of personnel, to having to play and get performances from a rotated team every single game due to needing to rest regulars.

Not many managers can say they didn’t have an unchanged 11 till the playoffs, to which it only occurred once in total. He has created a solid defence with less players in such a short amount of time. Absolutely incredible.

We have been a pleasure to watch lately and he’s produced promotion, I think it is possible he could create a dynasty here with the right resources, and I’m all for it.

Jack Gingell says... 10/10!

A monumental performance, and had echos of when we appointed Sam Allardyce what seems like a million years ago.

After the Roy Keane saga, I think the perfect option was always waiting in the wings. I think most people I spoke to when they allowed head to rule heart felt that Neil would be a great choice and a coup for our (now previous) level.

He got to work rotating the young lads such as Doyle and Neil who were burning out, whilst getting the best out of experienced pros with particular reference to Bailey Wright and Corry Evans. It was clear that Neil wanted us to keep it tight and let the quality do the talking at the other end.

An unbeaten 15 game run and only 7 goals conceded in the final run in shows just what an amazing impact Neil has had. We couldn’t have been in better hands for another Playoff venture, and his “horses for courses” approach has paid dividends and well as his willingness to make changes when it is not working. Look at his inclusion of Embleton in the Playoff Final starting eleven when many would have kept it unchanged, and the almost inevitable impact that had!

I can’t wait to see what he can do with his own transfer window, and much like players such as Stewart and Pritchard, we have someone who is already prepared for our next level.

Malc Dugdale says... 10/10!

He has taken a team void of confidence and belief and without the luxury of a transfer window, he has had to apply his own condiments to the plate in front of him, and he has taken us up.

His no-nonsense handling of the media and his ability to get the lads to treat every single game, even Wembley in front of that incredible support, like just another game of footy…you simply cannot teach that. It’s in you and part of you, and if you can convey that to players around you, that is a special talent.

I said on a recent pod that Alex Neil is the most well-aligned manager to SAFC since Peter Reid. He knows what it means to all its fans to be part of this club. Not since the little Everton and England general moved on have we had such a well-suited gaffer, and I truly hope he does as well as wee Peter.

Alex Neil gets football, he gets what we want and need as fans, and he gets our club like few ever have.

Long may he reign.

Michael Dunne says... 10/10!

Full marks - he is the best thing to happen to the club in years.

Neil came in with a few fans disappointed because it wasn’t a grizzly Irishman.

But, his performances have been nothing short of sensational. He simplified everything for the team and cited the issues in defence. Within a few weeks, Sunderland were a solid unit and not conceding many goals.

On the other hand, Alex Neil stated his trust in his attacking players to get the job done.

I enjoy his understated ways, his straight-talking and his no-nonsense approach to everything. He seems a perfect fit and I would be very confident of continued success with him in charge.

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