I was sitting in Palma Airport when news broke that Alex Neil hadn’t turned up to his press conference at 9am due to a meeting that had overrun. I was genuinely confused as to why everyone was starting to mention Stoke.
He wouldn’t leave like this, right? To a club who have FFP problems, a fanbase so much smaller than ours and the team he had beaten no less than six days prior.
As Twitter went into meltdown over the possibility of him leaving, all I could think was that it was a meeting about Jan Paul van Hecke, who we’re (according to reports) close to signing. Or even about his own contract, signing a new one and getting ready to take us back to the Premier League.
Alex Neil was adored by everyone here and he even said the togetherness of everyone was something that he’s never experienced before in his managerial career. It felt like he was a perfect match for Sunderland and we were a perfect match for him. He got us.
He wouldn’t leave, not yet anyway...
Unbelievably, by the time I had landed at Birmingham Airport, Alex Neil to Stoke City was pretty much a done deal. I really could not believe what I was reading.
Everything he had built since February was destroyed just like that.
My feelings turned from sadness to anger very quickly.
To leave the players, who have worked so hard under his management, less than 24 hours before a huge game (which could have taken us joint-top) is unprofessional and nothing short of a disgrace.
It really feels like Alex has used Sunderland AFC to advertise himself after being out of the game for a while. He’s succeeded in six months and jumped ship at the first opportunity.
Granted we got a promotion out of it, and a positive start to life back in the Championship. Something just doesn’t seem right about the way he’s gone about it, however, and now we are once again looking for a new manager.
I hope this really goes downhill for him. Ta-ra Alex!