A look at the career of new Norwich City manager Alex NeilTHE emerging managerial career of new Norwich City boss Alex Neil is defined by winning.
Aged just 31 when he was trusted with the task of guiding Hamilton Academical in April 2013, his impact and results have certainly since caught the eye.
That’s especially been the case this season, with Neil – while still maintaining his own career as a central midfielder - leading his team to third position in the Scottish Premiership, beating holders Celtic on their own patch in October.
Only this week he was forced into playing down the prospect of the South Lanarkshire club qualifying for European competition at the end of season, such has been their rise under his stewardship.
The foundations of his success has been a trust in young players at a club that brought through current Premier League stars James McCarthy, now with Everton, and James McArthur, plying his trade at Crystal Palace, with the former citing Neil as an important influence on his progress.
Last year, he oversaw Hamilton’s return to the top flight in his first full term in charge, with his side beating Hibernian on penalties in a dramatic play-off final.
In an interview with the Daily Mail in September, he revealed that many of the responsibilities of football management have ‘come naturally’ to him.
“I have very few insecurities in terms of confidence, speaking to a group and putting my message across,” said Neil.
“I don’t mind demanding the most out of them or booting someone up the backside if I feel they aren’t pulling their weight.
“All these sides to the job don’t really bother me. It’s something that comes naturally to me.”
From Bellshill close to Glasgow, Neil was thrown in at the deep end as a promising young player with Airdrieonians before crossing the border aged 19 to sign for Barnsley in 2000.
Across four seasons at Oakwell, he made 128 appearances, scoring four goals, and after a year with Mansfield Town, he returned to his native Scotland to sign for Hamilton, a club for whom he would go onto become a bona-fide legend.
Named captain after just three months at New Douglas Park, Neil played 44 times in his first season and went on to be the fulcrum of the team that earned promotion from the-then Scottish Division One in 2008 under Billy Reid, one his own key influences.
Reid ended his eight-year spell at the helm in 2013, and after initially assuming the player-manager role on an interim basis, Neil took the job on a permanent basis in May that year.
This summer would have seen him reach a decade at the club where he is hero-worshipped, but his final game in charge was a 1-0 victory at St Johnstone last Saturday.
Neil becomes Norwich City’s 39th different permanent manager, and the tenth Scotsman to take the reins.
At the age of 33, he also becomes the second youngest manager in the four professional leagues in English football, second only to Mansfield’s player-manager Adam Murray.
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