Preston North End manager Alex Neil has signed a new three-year contract to end speculation linking him with the vacant West Bromwich Albion job.
The 37-year-old Scot has been linked with the role at The Hawthorns since Darren Moores sacking on 9 March.
West Brom managerial target Alex Neil expects something to take place over next couple of days
Preston lost 4-1 to the Baggies in the Championship on Saturday, with Neil suggesting after the game that the speculation had “got to the players”.
“It has affected them and it has affected the day for the fans, which I apologise for,” Neil said after the defeat by West Brom.
He said: “It has been a difficult few days working in a situation where the club and I had no control over what has been said, but I am absolutely delighted to be able to commit my future to the club and to continue with the project we have been working on.
“I feel as if I have ruined the day for the supporters. People write what they want and then it grows arms and legs.”
“This is a fantastic football club and we have built a young squad that not only has great ability, but has great potential to improve and I thoroughly enjoy working with them and seeing them give everything to get better, every single day.
Neil was appointed by Preston in July 2017 following the departure of Simon Grayson, and guided the club to seventh in the Championship last season, missing out on the play-offs by two points.
“I am grateful to the owner, Mr Hemmings, and his representative, Peter Ridsdale, for showing faith in me and supporting me and I look forward to giving everything for this proud club going forward.”
The former Hamilton and Norwich City boss will now remain at Deepdale until “at least the summer of 2022”.
“It has been a difficult few days working in a situation where the club and I had no control over what has been said,” Neil said following the announcement of his new deal.
“I am absolutely delighted to be able to commit my future to the club and to continue with the project we have been working on.”
Preston North End are delighted to announce that manager Alex Neil has today signed a new deal with the club.
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Albions number one managerial target Alex Neil expects something to take place over the next couple of days.
The Preston North End boss, who brought his team to The Hawthorns today, left the door open to an approach from the Baggies.
Albion are keen to take Neil from todays opponents and are expected to make a formal offer to the Lancashire club in the next 48 hours.
Although Prestons press officer forbade questions about Neils managerial future from the post-match press conference, the 37-year-old voluntarily spoke about the situation.
Neil admitted he couldnt be sure if it was his last game in charge of Preston, and apologised to the North End supporters for ruining their day.
He also said the managerial speculation affected his players in a first half that saw them fall 3-0 behind to the Baggies.
When asked if it was his last game in charge of Preston, Neil said: “The problem Ive got is I cant answer that question, because what I wouldnt want to do is say definitely yes or definitely no and be a hypocrite.
“Id like to think Im a man who is as good as his word. The problem Ive got is Im not in control of that situation.
“Id imagine something would take place over the next couple of days and then whatever will happen will happen from that point.”
Neil insisted he had not spoken to anyone at Albion and that Preston had not been approached. But he is expecting an approach soon.
“I wouldnt imagine its going to run until (the next game on Friday),” he said. “This type of thing needs to get brought to a conclusion.
“The frustrating thing for me is Ive not spoken to anyone, theres been no approach to Preston, so Im answering a question based on nothing.
“If youre asking me a question I havent got an answer to I dont really no what to say. But when Im not in control of the situation that becomes tough.
“When youve got a decision to make, youre in control. Theres no decision to make, Im the Preston manager, Ive got a rolling contract and that was the case before the game as it is right this second.”
Preston were poor in the first half and fell 3-0 down to Albion thanks to two Dwight Gayle goals in four minutes and a Jay Rodriguez effort.
“I certainly thought the speculation got to the players today,” said Neil. “Were a really young group, I thought it showed.
“Its not my doing but its affected them and Gentry Day for our fans, which I apologise for. That made me frustrated.”
Although Neil was disappointed with how his team dealt with the situation, he also apologised for it.
“I dont want to criticise my team too much because over the course of me being here theyve been outstanding,” he said.
“Just today, everything that surrounded it, the fact its because of me that thats happened makes me disappointed and frustrated. Unfortunately I cant take it back.
“Ive been their leader for such a vital part of their career because a lot of them have just started out and when that gets questioned their minds start to wander.
The Preston fans were all wearing bowler hats for Gentry Day, an annual celebration to remember fans who have passed away.
“All I can do is apologise to our fans, I love being at Preston, Ive really thoroughly enjoyed everything weve done.