Sunderland appoint Alex Neil as new head coach

Alex Neil has signed a rolling 12-month contract to become the new head coach of Sunderland AFC.

Neil oversaw the team’s pre-match preparations on Friday and will oversee his first game against AFC Wimbledon at Plough Lane on Saturday afternoon.

He will be assisted by former Hamilton Academical team-mate Martin Canning.

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Neil says his focus is ‘on this season and this season alone’ and says his first training session gave him ‘belief’ for the immediate task of trying to win promotion back the Championship.

Alex Neil has been named as Sunderland's new head coach

“It is a privilege to be Head Coach of Sunderland AFC,” Neil said.

“Everything that I saw from the players this morning made me really confident and gave me belief, so what we now need to do is replicate that on a matchday – when it matters – under scrutiny and under pressure.

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"Our task is to try and win as many games as we possibly can and at this moment in time we are focused on this season and this season alone.”

Sporting Director Kristjaan Speakman said the club were confident that Neil could make an impact on results in the short-term, with the club’s automatic promotion prospects hanging by a thread.

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Speakman also thanked supporters for their patience through ‘what has undoubtedly been a challenging period’, with the club facing significant criticism for the long delay in securing Lee Johnson’s successor.

He echoed Neil’s sentiment that the club’s primary focus was on trying to achieve promotion this season.

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“Throughout his career, Alex has demonstrated that he can make an immediate and lasting impact,” Speakman said.

"He expressed a clear vision on how he wants to take the team forward, which strongly aligns with our core principals, and we firmly believe that he can influence performances and results in the short term.

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"We are grateful to our supporters for their patience throughout what has undoubtedly been a challenging period and thank Mike Dodds and Michael Proctor for overseeing our first-team programme in the interim.

"Now, our immediate priority is to support Alex and the team to ensure we deliver promotion this season and reward the faith continuously placed in us by our supporters.”