Preston North End have parted company with Alex Neil after a dismal run of just one win in their last nine games saw them slide down the table.
The Lilywhites had a turbulent winter transfer window in which they lost three of their star players and made nine signings – six of which were loans.
Neil is understood to have felt disgruntled at the mass changes in January, and subsequent performances were poor, with Preston winning just three of 17 matches since the turn of the year.
North End’s 16th position might at first glance just look like a lower mid-table slot, with room to spare between themselves and the bottom three. That’s not taking into account third-bottom Rotherham having four games in hand.
‘He leaves us with our thanks and very best wishes for the future’ read a brief club statement, which also confirmed Frankie McAvoy will take interim charge for the final nine games of the season.
On current form and with the fixture list being how it is, McAvoy has plenty on his plate – so too Steve Thompson, Paul Gallagher and Mike Pollitt, who form the coaching team with him.
Listening to Neil speak after Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Luton, you would say that he had lost confidence in himself. A late Daniel Iversen own goal proved the difference in the final match of Neil’s three-and-a-half-year reign at Deepdale.
More accurately, Neil didn’t feel confident with the strength of squad and getting the best out of them.
His line in Saturday’s press conference that he didn’t have a ‘Scooby-Doo’ what his best team was, rang alarm bells. Four defeats in five, with a solitary point taken, had seen much chopping and changing to try and find a solution.
Without Ben Davies and Ben Pearson, Neil lost faith in being able to build through the thirds. Losing those two would hurt any team and it badly wounded Preston.
The 39-year old took charge at Deepdale in July 2017 and led the club to a seventh-placed finish in the Championship in his first season. They could only achieve 14th place the following campaign and finished 9th last term.