Norwich City chief Alex Neil is not a man to be messed with, says his old Hamilton mentor

Hamilton's ex-manager Billy Reid knew Alex Neil was destined for the top. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wi

Hamilton's ex-manager Billy Reid knew Alex Neil was destined for the top. Photo: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Norwich City manager Alex Neil was destined for the top, insists his ex-Hamilton ally Billy Reid.

The Canaries' boss has enjoyed a meteoric rise to the Premier League after succeeding Reid at New Douglas Park in May 2013.

Reid, now assistant manager at Swedish outfit Ostersunds FK, was the man who brought Neil back to Scotland as an abrasive midfielder and set him on the coaching path that led to Carrow Road and a Wembley Championship play-off victory against Middlesbrough.

'When Alex got the Hamilton job I said that he'd be a major success. You can never guarantee anything in football. But he's made from the right stuff,' said Reid. 'People asked me what his main strength was. I said it was that he didn't have a weakness.

'That sums him up for me. He covers most bases as a manager. And he has proved that already at Hamilton and Norwich. He's a smart, intelligent guy and I can't speak highly enough of him.

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'Of course, I take a bit of pride in what he's doing now. Towards the end of my time at Hamilton when I didn't have an assistant, Alex was the guy I'd lean on for advice. He helped me a lot.

'Behind closed doors, we had a few unsavoury words and arguments, but we worked together for almost 10 years and got on great. He did a terrific job for me and he's now showing his qualities at Norwich.'

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Neil's seamless move into management came after a less than impressive start to his playing stint at Hamilton, when Reid initially signed him from Mansfield.

'Ronnie MacDonald, the Hamilton chairman, remembered Alex from playing at Airdrie – but I knew little about him,' said Reid, speaking to the Daily Record. 'Accies were going from part-time to full-time. We were attempting to sign a better calibre of player that would have a big impact at the club and I felt Alex could do that for us. Alex is a typical, hard-as-nails guy. He might be small in size but you wouldn't want to mess with him.

'He's the type who will stand his ground on anything. I wouldn't say he looks for bother but he's not one to dodge confrontation.

'He doesn't take liberties. If he thinks something is wrong he'll be first to stand up and say it.

'The way I managed at Hamilton, I was more than happy for him to do that. He picked up a few red cards, and some people at the club weren't happy with him. They felt he was killing us. But I always backed him. I'd never take that aggressive side away from him.

'People raised their eyebrows when I showed him support, but I knew what I was getting from him. Sometimes great players need to have that edge to them – and Alex certainly has that.'

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