It was a relationship that clicked. Sometimes, as in love, the chemistry was proper. Neil does a first rate impression of a surly and grumpy man with a chip on his shoulder. That is the act he adopted when he arrived. There have been only a few smiles. Indeed, from the surface wanting in, you questioned whether or not he needed to be there in any respect. It all appeared somewhat dour.
Neil, although, is just not that straightforward or one-dimensional. What he understood instantly is that the most important drawback for Sunderland was they’d spent the final 4 years believing they have been too large to be in the third tier. That their keep in League One was a humiliation and a shame.
All the speak had been of recent lows and unacceptable outcomes. Every defeat was greeted with dismay, each failure to win was reacted to with anger.
Neil’s message was easy however efficient. Sunderland have been a League One membership as a result of they deserved to be. They had League One gamers as a result of that’s the place they deserved to be and he was a League One supervisor as a result of that’s the job he had taken. It was about accepting their state of affairs, not always complaining about it.
It led to some clashes with the native media; there was some early friction, but it surely was the precise message to ship.
Behind the scenes, although, Neil set to work on the coaching floor and launched some much-needed pragmatism to a workforce that was good to look at beneath his predecessor Johnson, however too simple to attain towards. The gamers responded positively to his arrival, the 40-year-old’s charisma and training means way more apparent away from the media glare.
Sunderland’s run beneath Neil is spectacular. They have lost simply as soon as: 2-1 to MK Dons in his second recreation in cost. Saturday’s victory over Wycombe – as comfy a win as you might be more likely to see in a play-off remaining – was his tenth of his 18-game spell in the dugout.
Sunderland legend Niall Quinn described Neil’s affect on the membership he performed for and ran as “phenomenal” in the build-up to the Wycombe recreation, as he in contrast his affect to that of Peter Reid, in addition to Keane earlier than him. It is tough to disagree.
Neil is the primary Sunderland supervisor to win promotion since Keane did so again in 2007. The membership has appointed, sacked or lost 13 managers in the years in between. They have had some good and a few unhealthy ones, however solely a handful have lived as much as expectations and none has exceeded them in the identical means Neil has performed.
Nobody needs Keane had stated sure. Not anymore. He might effectively have performed simply in addition to Neil, however he definitely couldn’t have performed any higher.