Alex Neil gives most open explanation of Sunderland exit yet - and discusses club's recruitment strategy

Alex Neil has been discussing his exit from Sunderland
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Alex Neil has offered his most candid assessment of his controversial exit from Sunderland yet, saying his departure was rooted in the club's decision not to offer him a new contract in the wake of promotion to the Championship.

Neil left to join Stoke City shortly after the Championship campaign had begun, and has said that he felt 'really wanted' by The Potters. Neil did eventually agree a new deal at Sunderland later that summer on Wearside, but it was never announced by either party as frustrations continued to simmer.

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Speaking to the #EFLdebate with Gab Sutton, Neil said he did not want to leave Sunderland but felt that contract process over the course of the summer suggested the club did not have faith in him to be their boss in the long run.

"I think there's been a lot said about and the last thing I ever wanted to do was throw fuel on the fire," he said.

"A lot of people said things about me which are completely untrue. The biggest thing at that point was that we'd just been promoted.. let me give you an example, you sign a striker, he signs a contract, he scores 20 goals and you get promoted, and then he knocks on your day and asks for a contract. You do your best to satisfy his needs, don't you? We'd just been promoted after a few years of trying, and anyone questioning my dedicating to Sunderland at that point is crazy because I wanted to be at Sunderland. As soon as we got promoted, I wanted to open discussions to extend my stay and get a better deal and to be part of what the club was club going to be moving forward - that's where I saw my future. The fact is that as far as they were concerned, I'd signed my deal and that's the deal that I was on. To me, that didn't show any faith in me or in security in terms of, 'we want you to the guy to take us forward in the next few years'. That was the key component that drove everything that came after that."

Neil also said suggested that there were some differences over recruitment during his time at the club, and said that he feels the current group is probably suffering for a lack of experience in some areas. He added that he was fully aware of the club's strategy when arriving, and so there were no broken promises on that front.

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"The one thing I'll say about Sunderland is, there's no promises about them signing this 30-year-old or this 32-year-old," Neil said.

"So there was never any misconception when I went in that they look to invest in youth players, there were some discussion points around for younger players to flourish, you do need good experienced players around then. That was a healthy discussion point quite regularly, in my view they are light on experience just now, they're very, very young but extremely talented. I do believe you need some dots of experience around it, I think the balance of the team I picked up when I went to Sunderland was perfect. You had so many young players but equally, Luke O'Nien, Alex Pritchard, Corry Evans.. they were equally important."

Neil is reportedly open to the prospect of returning to the club as they continue their search for Michael Beale's replacement, having been sacked by Stoke City earlier this year.

You can watch the full interview, including his full discussion of his time on Wearside, here.