Norwich City appointed Hamilton Academical player-manager Alex
Neil as manager on 9th January 2015 as replacement for Neil
Adams.The 33-year-old Scot has signed a one-year rolling contract
Neil leaves Hamilton third in the Scottish Premiership, four
points behind leaders Aberdeen, after leading them to promotion
last season. "I'm absolutely delighted to have the opportunity
to manage a club of the stature of Norwich," said Neil.
First-team coaches Mike Phelan and Gary
Holt were to initiallyl remain in their roles although Phelan
chose later to move on, while Neil's assistant at Hamilton, Frank
McAvoy, joined the coaching staff at the end of January 2015..
A central midfielder, Neil began his career at Airdrie (16 appearances)
before joining Barnsley in 2000. Neil spent four years at Barnsley
(121 appearances) before joining Mansfield Town in 2004, where
he spent only one season (41 appearances) before signing for Hamilton
Academical ("Accies"). Known for his aggressive playing
style, he is a fan favourite for many of the Accies supporters.
Neil won the Scottish First Division with the Accies in 2008 alongside
James McCarthy and James McArthur. On 6 May 2011, Neil signed
a new contract with Hamilton. After manager Billy Reid vacated
his managerial position at Hamilton in April 2013, Neil was appointed
player/manager on an interim basis. He was made manager on a permanent
basis on 24 May 2013.
The former Barnsley midfielder, who becomes the second youngest
manager in the Football League behind Mansfield's Adam Murray,
led Accies to second place in the Scottish Championship last season.They
went on to beat Hibernian 4-3 on penalties after their two-legged
play-off finished 2-2 on aggregate to win promotion to Scotland's
top flight for the first time in three years.
He took charge of his first Norwich match the following day,
coming down from the stands to the touchline to offer instructions
which saw ten-man Norwich came from a goal down to record a 2-1
victory at Championship leaders AFC Bournemouth
He was named Championship manager of the month for February 2015
following five wins out of five (4-0 at home to Blackpool, 3-2
at Charlton, 2-0 at home to Wolves, 3-0 at Watford and 2-1 at
Norwich finished third in the Championship and were drawn against
Ipswich in the play-off semi-finals. They drew 1-1 at Portman
Road before winning 3-1 at Carrow Road. Norwich had to play Middlesbrough
on 25th May 2015 at Wembley, a team that had beat them twice.
Neil's tactical genius led City to a 2-0 win and to the Premier
The following season was hard for Norwich and the Canaries were relegated from the top flight. It was expected that Norwich would contend for immediate promotion back from the Championship and the Canaries started well, with Neil awarded the Championship Manager of the Month award for September 2016. However a poor run of form in the autumn and again in February/March saw the Canaries' board sack Neil on 10th March 2017. Thye had not won for five games and were nine points off the play-off spaces. Alan Irvine was appointed as caretaker manager. Neil's record at Norwich was 108 games played, 45 won, 23 drawn and 40 lost (a win rate of 41.7%).
The Board's statement said " The Board has taken the tough but unanimous decision, believing it is in the best interests of the Club for a new manager to be in place through a crucial summer transfer window and into next season. The Directors would like to place on record their sincere gratitude to Alex for all of his hard work and for the fantastic achievement of guiding us to the Premier League in 2015, via a memorable play-off final success against Middlesbrough at Wembley. Through tough seasons last year in the Premier League and this year in the Championship, Alex has always given his all to the Club and we wish him every success in his future career. First team coach Alan Irvine will take charge of the team for tomorrow's Sky Bet Championship game against Blackburn Rovers at Carrow Road. As has been widely reported the Board has been conducting a thorough review of the structure of the Club. An announcement about the new structure will be made next week. The Club will not be commenting further at this time, with everyone's focus on supporting Alan Irvine and the team ahead of tomorrow's game."
On 4th July 2017, Alex was appointed manager of Preston North End on a 12 month rolling contract. He replaces the departed Simon Grayson, who joined Sunderland earlier this week. Neil said “I’ve looked at this opportunity and seen that the club has made progress for four years running and I am looking forward to trying to continue that progress. It is a really good challenge for me. I have been involved in a lot of big games in a short space of time and hopefully we can be involved in a lot more big games here at Preston North End. Taking over a job in this situation means we have a confident squad that have been performing well over the last couple of seasons. There will not be a task of trying to lift the players, they have shown they are a good team and they can compete at this level and my job is to come in and try and help them improve as individuals and improve us as a club and hopefully try and push further up the league.The ultimate aim for any club in the Championship is to try and get promoted at some stage. The club has been stable in the Championship for the last two years and you never know what is going to happen in the next year or two, but we want to try and build a side and a squad that is capable of competing at the top end of the Championship and if we can get a bit of momentum, you never know where you can end up.”
In March 2019, Neil was linked with the managerial vacancies at both West Brom and Celtic.
On 21st March 2021 Neil left Preston North End by mutual consent with the club 16th in the Championship Table. They had won just one game in nine.He had managed them for 191 games with a win ratio of 37.7%. Preston said it is "the intention" for coach Frankie McAvoy to take over as interim head coach for the remaining eight games of the season.
In November 2021 it was reported that Crewe Alexandra boss Dave Artell had brought in Neil as an advisor to try and turn the club's season around. Artell said: “I spoke to the chairman months ago just about someone coming in, just a fresh pair of eyes for a few days. Have a look, see where we can improve. I played with Alex for a couple of years and we drove in together. He is a great guy. I trust him. He wants to help and he is having a look. ‘What are you doing here, why are you doing that, what’s this and what’s that?’“He is questioning staff more than anyone else and has been invaluable already. He is someone I trust, someone who, hopefully, we can pick his brains and improve.” The temporary arrangement helps Crewe while Neil, who left Preston in March, waits for a managerial opportunity.
In December 2021 he was linked with the managerial vacancy at Ipswich following the sacking of Paul Cook.
On 11th February 2022 he was appointed as head coach of League One side Sunderland. The 40-year-old joins after the Black Cats parted company with Lee Johnson following their 6-0 thrashing by Bolton Wanderers on 29th January. Neil signed a rolling 12 month contract. Former Hamilton Academical manager Martin Canning will be Neil's assistant at the Stadium of Light.
Neil led Sunderland to the League One play-off finals in May 2022 which they won on 21st May 2022 defeating Wycombe 2-0 and securing promotion to the Championship.
Following Stoke's sacking of Michael O'Neill as manager, Neil was given permission to speak to Stoke about the vacancy. He was not present for Sunderland's clash with Norwich on 27th August 2022 (whcih City won 1-0) and Stoke confirmed his appointment on 28th August 2022. Neil signed a three year contract. Stoke joint-chairman John Coates said Neil was the club's "number one choice" in the search for a new manager."I'm delighted we have secured his services so quickly. His managerial pedigree is excellent with three promotions already on his CV and we are looking forward to working closely with him to help him realise the ambitions that he and the club share."
Neil was sacked by Stoke on 10th December 2023 with the Potters in 20th place in the Championship. They had finished 16th the previous season after two 14th place finishes.Despite an expensive 18-man summer overhaul, the Potters had won just six of their 20 league matches. Assistant Martin Canning also left the club and first-team coach Paul Gallagher was placed in charge of the team for the home game against Swansea. Chairman John Coates said "Alex is a man of absolute integrity who has given his all for Stoke City and we would like to thank him for his hard work during his time with the club. We are grateful for the building blocks he has helped put in place in bringing together a group of players in whom we have a huge amount of faith regarding their ability to turn things around this season, and who can help us achieve longer-term success.However, with the way the results have been so far, we have made the difficult decision to seek a new direction for the team at this time. Nothing matters to me more than the success of our club and we are now working towards the appointment of Alex's successor."