Former Norwich boss Alex Neil set to become new Preston manager

Preston North End are set to reveal Alex Neil as their new manager in the near future as they look to challenge for a place in The Championship play-offs next season.

The former Norwich City manager will become the permanent replacement for Simon Grayson after he departed to join Sunderland recently.

Looking to push on this season

Preston chairman Peter Ridsdale is hoping the club can really push on this season and challenge for promotion to the Premier League. North End are moving quickly to appoint a new manager following Grayson's departure just a matter of days ago.

The club are said to be willing to back Neil in the transfer market this summer to make their dream a reality. However, Grayson has already assembled a strong squad at Deepdale which arguably only needs a couple of quality additions.

The former Leeds United boss had been in charge of the club since 2013 which saw him become one of the longest serving managers at this level. North End had a great season last time out as they finished in 11th place and often found themselves flirting with the play-off places.

However, many of their results on the pitch were significantly aided by the contribution of loanee Aiden McGeady. Preston supporters are likely to be frustrated that he looks set to sign for Sunderland as Everton have agreed a deal of around £2 million for the midfielder.

Experienced leader

Despite being a relatively young and inexperienced manager, Neil has already experienced promotion to the top flight with Norwich City. This will give everyone connected with Preston belief that he can repeat this success with them next season.

The 36-year-old began his managerial career at Hamilton Academical who he played 211 games for as a player. He was appointed originally as a player/manager but was rewarded with the job on a permanent basis. He had a very successful spell as manager of the club as he led them back to the Scottish Premier League in his first full season via the play-off system and then masterminded a strong start the following season. The run of form included a famous away win at Celtic.

Such results attracted interest elsewhere and Neil departed the club to become manager of Norwich City in January 2015. He had a great start at Carrow Road, winning 17 of his first 25 games as the Canaries finished in the play-off places in The Championship. This saw them promoted to the top flight with a 2-0 win over Middlesbrough at Wembley.

However, this was as good as it got for Neil. The following season saw Norwich immediately relegated back to the second tier after a torrid campaign. This proceeded a poor start to last season saw Norwich win just seven of their opening 24 games, resulting in Neil losing his job at the club and he has been looking for work ever since.

A good opportunity

The job available at Preston is certainly a role which is an attractive proposition for a manager such as Neil. The club are known to support and get behind their managers but also give them time to implement their ideas which is a rare commodity in today's game.

He was fairly unlucky to lose his job at Carrow Road but it was ultimately his recruitment last summer which let him down. Considering it was only his second ever managerial job, he did manage to do himself justice. He will now be looking to prove his doubters wrong by being successful at Preston and guiding them to challenge at the top of The Championship.

However, Preston is arguably a much more difficult job than the one he faced at Norwich City. Norwich already had a Premier League squad with a number of quality players still on the club's books. They were one of the biggest underachievers in the league last year after failing to even make the play-off places. Yet Preston were largely seen as overachievers by many so it will be Neil's job to keep these performances up and bring in a couple of quality additions to take them to the next level.