“I’m very anti-playing games,” Alex Neil reflects on his Norwich City exit

Ex-Norwich City manager Alex Neil is on Preston's short list. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire.

Ex-Norwich City manager Alex Neil is on Preston's short list. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Alex Neil admits he has 'unfinished business' after a sour end to his Norwich City spell.

Norwich City manager Alex Neil was unable to keep the club in the Premier League. Picture: Nick Pott

Norwich City manager Alex Neil was unable to keep the club in the Premier League. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Neil was dismissed over the Championship run-in after failing to get the Canaries firmly in contention for a Premier League return.

The Scot, speaking to the Daily Record, is now waiting for a chance to get back in after a bruising Carrow Road spell.

'People on the outside only get one per cent of an insight into being a manager,' he said. 'So from the decisions you make on a Saturday, they make assumptions as to why you made them.

'But sometimes you're forced into them. You can't help it. Your job is to protect the integrity of the club and you can't divulge why you've made that decision. That's frustrating.

Alex Neil has no regrets over his Carrow Road stint. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire.

Alex Neil has no regrets over his Carrow Road stint. Picture: Chris Radburn/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

'If you sat down with people and told them all the facts and variables that led you to a decision, they might agree. The biggest thing I've learnt is probably that I'm too honest for my own good. Jez (Moxey) and David (McNally) both told me that when I left Norwich.

'I'm very anti-playing games. I don't like talking crap in the papers – I'd rather paint a realistic picture of what the job is. Everyone tells you they want to hear the truth. But what they really mean is, 'Can I hear it if it's good – but if it's not so good don't tell me'.

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'My background definitely helps me to deal with it. I'm not going to sit in the house and dwell on what's happened. In my life and career I've had to work extremely hard for what I've got. As a player, the rejection and negativity I had has only spurred me on even more. In football if you're not resilient, determined and prepared to put the work in, eventually the game will eat you up and spit you out. I feel I have unfinished business now.'

Neil admitted Norwich's offer was a life-changer, after leaving Hamilton in January 2015, to guide the Canaries to Championship promotion before a brief top flight stay.

'I had 100 things running through my mind. And I also had two kids to think about. My wife Christine had a job in Scotland so it had to be worthwhile in so many ways,' he said. 'But with Hamilton I thought that if we finished in the top four could we really go any higher?

'You also think about finances and being able to change my family's lives. As a player, although I earned decent money I never got to the level where it would change my life. All of that came into account.

'Looking at everything, it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down. Maybe it was naivety on my part but I was extremely confident going down there. I had no worries walking into that Norwich changing room.

'I know how to speak to footballers. Suddenly I had a whole batch to deal with. But I had to show them I wasn't there to mess about. I was there to get them up. You need to get their respect right away. It eventually comes over a period of time but first impressions are crucial.

'When you introduce yourself you have to make your presence felt and let them know that you're in charge. I didn't have any problems. But at any club there will be opportunities to show your authority. And there will be players who look to test that. It's like being a teacher and going into the classroom for the first time.

'You'll have pupils who will try to push your buttons, see how far they can take you.

'But you have to set your stall out and tell them how it is. You let them know that if they're going to go down that route there will be consequences.'